Amy Clowrey talks about her recent visit to Uganda as part of the HLSUTG delegation.

On 4 November I travelled to Uganda with three of my peers from the Huddersfield Law Society Uganda Twinning Group (HLSUTG). Whilst this was my first trip, the HLSUTG have been travelling to Uganda since 2003 to provide training for Ugandan lawyers. 

This year was no different, we had been preparing a conference for several months over lunch-time meetings. The title of this year’s conference was ‘Developing Excellence in a Law Firm’ which took place on 7 and 8 of November. It is fair to say that the annual conference has become a feature of the Uganda Law Society’s educational programme. 

We spoke to around 300 delegates and on the first day we covered ethics, management and advocacy. We also heard from the current President, Francis Gimara, and the immediate past-President, Ruth Sebatindira, of the Uganda Law Society. The second day was specifically aimed at business development and saw seminars on profitability, strategy, marketing, social media and pro bono and volunteer work. We also conducted a workshop on partnership, with John Royale (senior partner, Ridley and Hall) being the senior partner in the role play and myself as the junior partner. 

Having not undertaken much public speaking previously, it was quite daunting presenting in front of so many delegates (and my boss, Ranjit Uppal, who was in the crowd) but I managed it! The whole conference was an  educational experience for me, as well as the delegates; the other speakers were partners / directors of law firms, so I picked up  lots of ‘top tips’. I spoke about case management, pro bono and volunteer work. 

The annual conference isn’t the only work undertaken by the committee. Over the years the HLSUTG has: 

  • Provided over 6,000 text books and training DVDs to create a resource centre in Kampala.
  • Assisted in setting up a project which provides legal representation and advice to protect the children of Patongo, Northern Uganda. This is in partnership with Chance for Childhood and the Uganda Law Society, with funding from the Law Society (of England and Wales) charity. 

Whilst in Uganda we also visited the village of Kyema, Missindi in North Uganda. Meltham Mustard Seed is a charity in Huddersfield that helps raise funds and educate orphans in Kyema. The children are placed with kinship carers or foster carers and the charity helps fund their welfare, medical and educational needs. 

We also visited Kyema school. We took our overalls and paint brushes and got ‘hands on’ in helping to make the school a clean and comfortable learning environment for the children. A very different experience from talking at the conference just a few days earlier!  

Overall, it was a fabulous opportunity and I would urge junior lawyers to get involved with volunteer initiatives such as the HLSUTG. Being involved with a project such as this is an invaluable experience. Not only are you able to make a difference to the lives of others but you are also developing yourself both professionally and personally. I could not recommend it more. 

Amy Clowrey is a member of the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) executive committee