Law Schools as Legal Aid Providers in Kenya: Challenges and Lessons Learnt from Practice
AbstractLegal aid is the provision of free or subsidized legal services to mainly poor and vulnerable people who cannot afford advocate fees. The right to legal aid is well rooted in the international, regional human rights treaty framework to which Kenya party. The provision of legal aid addresses the concerns of the poor and vulnerable by focusing on challenges that foil access to justice. In recognition of this, the Government of Kenya promulgated the Legal Aid Act, 2016 establishing the National Legal Aid Service to provide legal aid services to needy, marginalized, and vulnerable persons. This was a very important move, propelling the Government to prioritize legal aid provision as a right as well as a necessity for promotion of rule of law and access to justice. However, it is imperative to understand that the duty does not squarely fall on the State alone. There is need for non-state actors’ support from private entities like law firms, NGOs, Law schools and any other qualified legal personnel. Without a doubt, several non-state actors are actively offering free or subsidized legal aid and the purpose of this paper is to look at the lessons faced by a non-state actor from the experience of the authors organizing and running events to offer free legal aid. This includes expounding on challenges faced such as constrained funding, language barrier, illiteracy, and ignorance of legal rights. The punchline here is that there is room for all stakeholder to come together and forge a way forward for an improved legal aid framework in Kenya. Keywords: Law schools, Legal aid clinics, Legal aid, Free legal services, Kenya, access to justice, rule of law.
Copyright (c) 2021 Asha Mikinyango, Judith Nguru
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