This year, the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship focused geographically on East Africa. From 6 November to 1 December 2017, the Law Society of England and Wales hosted four professional fellows from the Rwanda Bar Association, the Law Society of Kenya, the Uganda Law Society and the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU).
The Law Society is very grateful to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission for sponsoring this initiative and thanks the delegates for their committed participation in this project.
The four East African fellows benefitted from a wide number of activities including:
(a) academic training at City Law School on alternative dispute resolution, technology and the law, and international human rights;
(b) practical placements at Clifford Chance and DLA Piper;
(c) interactive seminars delivered by Law Society staff on topics such as the rule of law, pro bono work, professional ethics, advocacy, SDGs and the legal profession, human rights, women and the law, among others; and
(d) networking opportunities and meetings organised by Law Society staff, which included meetings with members of the Honourable Society of Inner Temple, the Bar Council of England and Wales, the Federation des Barreaux d’Europe, and the International Senior Lawyers Project.
All these activities had the purpose of equipping the fellows with multiple tools that they could take back, share, and implement - if necessary - in their respective countries. Law Society members, UK-NGOs, and academics were also able to exchange with the fellows, who shared their experiences as well as the opportunities and challenges facing the legal profession and the judiciary in their respective jurisdictions.
Following this initiative, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Rwanda Bar Association, the Law Society of Kenya, the Uganda Law Society and the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) are committed to continue their partnership in the future by engaging in common rule of law projects.
An evaluation report will be released at the end of January 2018.
The Commonwealth Professional Fellowship project endeavours to transfer UK legal expertise and skills to support continuous professional development within the legal profession and the judiciary.
This annual fellowship is part of the Capacity Building programme (of the international rule of law programmes), which is aimed at facilitating academic training, practical placements, interactive seminars, and networking opportunities for lawyers, judges, law societies, and bar associations from foreign jurisdictions in the UK. Through this project, the Law Society hopes to contribute to strengthening the legal and judicial sector in upholding the rule of law and human rights abroad. It is also intended to foster relationship between the Law Society and law societies and bar associations worldwide. The Law Society also plans to create a global network of Commonwealth Professional Fellows to help strengthening the linkages between lawyers, judges, law societies and bar associations.
“The programme was very enriching and exciting.”
“I learnt a great deal from this experience, which I intend to share with all my colleagues back home. The information, contacts, and skills gained are priceless”.
“Thank you very much…. this initiative will significantly help to improve my work”.
Please see short clips with the fellows below: