The vision of the Strathmore Law Review (SLR) is to open the gates of legal scholarship to aspiring authors. It aims to achieve this by encouraging young legal scholars to research and write on legal and interdisciplinary matters affecting the continent.
Taking steps towards fulfilling its mandate, the SLR hosted a virtual information session for all interested authors on 11 June 2021. The Information Session is a recent addition to the activities accompanying the Call for Submissions. It was launched in 2020 alongside the first Yash & Jill Cottrell Ghai Writing Prize. At its inception, it was limited to the Strathmore Law School. However, this year, attendance was notably from various institutions and law firms from over 11 countries.
The purpose of the session is to bridge the gap between an authors’ thoughts and communication of these thoughts through writing. While authors can think of possible solutions for the far-reaching challenges that continue to bedevil African societies, it is important to aid them in the writing process. Hence, the Information Session seeks to help the authors to better understand and appreciate some of the vital internal processes of the SLR—the editorial process—and the key factors for the Yash & Jill Cottrell Ghai Writing Prize.
The session started with an introduction of the theme for the Seventh Volume, which is ‘Law Towards a Better African society’. This is geared towards encouraging authors to use law and legal scholarship to ventilate change. The panel, which was constituted by the editors at the SLR and some SLR alumni, put emphasis on the need for the novelty of ideas in the authors’ papers, and the utility and realness of the submissions. Furthermore, the speakers noted the importance of the rigour that academic writing demands since it needs to be very structured. Demonstrably, among other things, they stated that a good paper must have a good framework, be it theoretical or conceptual.
The session also touched on the important topic of methodology. The speakers clarified the varied methods that a paper could assume in proving its core arguments. Often, it is informed by the type and nature of the chosen topic. This could be any of the following: empirical evidence, surveys, legal historical work, policy work, technical ideas, and social arguments. They pointed out that oral interviews can also be a basis for an argument. However, the drawback to this approach is the requirement to present one’s interview objectives and questions before an Ethics Board and only subject to approval by the board can the interviews be conducted. This slows down the writing process for a writer who intends to collect data through interviews.
Conclusively, the Information Session was a great success. It was and will continue to be helpful especially to first-time authors. The SLR is finalising a handout that further elaborates on issues pertinent to legal research and writing for ease of reference and more practical guidelines. The call for submissions for the Seventh Volume closes on 27 August 2021 (Midnight, EAT, Nairobi).
This Article is written by Leticia Kiptum and Shamiah Muchesia, Second-Year LLB students at Strathmore University.