Dear Emma: This is what studying law in Uganda is like

Letter 1:

Dear Emma,

Greetings to you

I must admit that my choice to study law was initially motivated by the status that society accords to lawyers. Here in Uganda, the legal profession is a noble profession and lawyers are highly regarded people. It was until I enrolled in law school that I discovered that there is more to the legal profession than societal status. I discovered that by being a lawyer I can do a lot for both myself and society. With the knowledge of the law, specifically constitutional and administrative law, I was motivated to join the politics of the country so that I can take part in shaping my country’s future. Having appreciated how judges can shape a legal system and ameliorate structural injustices through the doctrine of precedent, I became inspired to be a judge.

Three and a half years down the road, the experience of law school has been great. I find subjects such as jurisprudence, constitutional law, international law, intellectual property, international criminal law and administrative law very interesting.

After the end of my program, I want to become an advocate/barrister. I hope to specialize in international economic law/international trade law at master and doctorate level. I have interests in working with the WTO, either as counsel or a panelist at the DSB. I discovered this field when I participated in the African round of the EALSA moot court competition at Rhodes University, South Africa. The crux of the moot problem was the conflict between WTO agreements and Environmental legal regime. As countries seek to protect the environment through ratifying international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Agreement among others, states, in implementing these commitments, often conflict with their commitments under WTO agreements. I have decided to do my undergraduate research in this area.

Denis

Letter 2:

Dear Emma,

I hope this email finds you well.

Law school, I must admit, has been an amazing experience, despite its challenges. We run a very tight schedule at Uganda Christian University, full of lectures that run from Monday to Saturday and full of assignments and so many other programs. So most often it gets very tiresome and stressing. Personally, in addition to the routine academic schedule, I have actively participated in student leadership and moot court competitions which have been quite exciting. They have given me a platform to interact with people within and without the country, inspiring me to take up new challenges, responsibilities and opportunities.

Initially, I thought being at university was all about reading books and getting good grades and so I concentrated on that in my first year at University. In second year, I realized there is more I can do alongside pursuing a degree. So I took up leadership and mooting and it has been a worthwhile experience. It is a challenge, however, to balance my academics and extra-curricular activities.

Of course I face some challenges. Sometimes it is hard to find certain reading materials. On some websites, cases are up for sale but only very few students have the ability to purchase them online. Law school is very expensive and challenging, and sometimes it gets financially challenging with so many costs involved, but despite all that, it is an opportune moment for me to be in law school. We do have mentorship programs where some university staff are assigned to mentor students. So lecturers are indeed inspiring because of their ethics and discipline towards their profession but also because of their achievements. Some of them often challenge us to take up leadership and change the direction of our country to a path that is more just.

I wish you a prosperous 2017.

Regards,

Denis

Letter 3:

Dear Emma,

Greetings to you

Uganda is a land locked developing country located in East Africa. Since the independence, the country has had a troublesome political history until after 1986 when the NRM government took leadership. Even after, insurgency continued, especially in the Northern part of the country. Despite restoring some stability, the NRM government lost track of its initial core principles. As a result, high levels of poverty, illiteracy, poor service delivery and slow economic progress remain.

The country’s problem is corruption and a lack of political will to curb it that has eaten every facet of public institutions. Corruption has been tolerated by the government and often used as a tool for building political support. Corruption has hindered investment and service delivery. Jobs and other opportunities are given on know-who basis rather than on merit. Our currency remains the weakest in the region due to low production for export. Leaders often care about their own interests rather than public challenges as the rest of the public is languish in poverty. There’s a lack of leadership that can change the trend of corruption, build a national unity and set the country on the path of development. This requires fresh leadership that puts the public at the core of its policy.

With the existing situation, inequality will continue. It is difficult to do business or innovate in a country marred by corruption. Because jobs are not given on merit, this poses uncertainty to many, including myself. Some aspects of a constitutional order have been already undermined and this poses a threat of political instability in the near future.

Of course there are opportunities, which if properly used would pull the country out of poverty. With fertile soils, Uganda has capacity to feed Africa and beyond, but this potential has not been fully exploited. Our tourism industry, too is an opportunity for economic progress. With East African integration and free movement of people and goods, the country could double its productivity.

Regards,

Denis

2 thoughts on “Dear Emma: This is what studying law in Uganda is like

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