School Of Law Orients Fresh Men & Women
The School of Law organized a freshers’ orientation meeting on Wednesday 2nd February, 2022 to create a sense of belonging among the new students at the School.
Established in 1968, initially as a Department of the Faculty of Social Sciences, the School was later in 1971 given independence as a Faculty and when Makerere University adopted the collegiate system, it became a semi-autonomous college. According to the Principal Prof. Christopher Mbazira, until recently, the School occupied special status as the only School of Law at a public university, “we now have Gulu as the second and the other schools are private” he said.
The School of Law was the only lawyer-training facility in Uganda since its founding in 1968 until 2000 when other universities established faculties of law. The school has five teaching departments, in addition to the units that engage in research like the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC), doing research and advocacy, in the area of human rights; and the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC). The Refugee Law Project addresses issues of refugees and immigration; Law, Gender and Sexuality research project addresses sexuality issues; the Disability Law and Rights Centre (DLRC) promotes and protects disability rights; as well as many other smaller research projects.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Ronald Naluwairo, the Deputy Principal, School of Law, welcomed the fresh men and women to the school. “We are here to inspire you and give you guidance on the basics and key things to excel in your academic career”, he said.
Dr. Naluwairo introduced to students the rigorous nature of the the Bachelors of Law Programme, and encouraged them to have competence as a minimum requirement for the programme. The Deputy Principal also promised students a session where the School Registrar will introduce the rules and regulations governing the programme in detail. He called upon the fresh men and women to always consult the registrars in instances where the rules seemed unclear.
In his remarks, Prof. Mbazira congratulated the students upon passing the pre-entry exams and joining the group of special people with special alumni. “So many people are interested in doing this course, and so when one passes the pre-entry exam, it gives us the confidence that you will pass through the course” he said.
Prof. Mbazira introduced to students a magazine produced during the School of Law at 50 Years of existence celebrations in 2018, with information on the history of the school, some of the people that have gone through the school and the various things done.
“I want to state that you have started a process of transformation from students to lawyers and this is will enable you join the noble legal profession. Traditionally, we have three professions, that’s law, medicine and religion. By joining the noble legal profession, you are bound by professional ethics and the code of conduct that governs members of that profession” said Prof. Mbazira.
He also urged students to be honest, smart, hardworking as well as give back to the community as an obligation that comes with being a member of the noble profession. “The nature of the programme is rigorous, it requires commitment, focus and it is the application of approaches used to pass S.6 exams.”
Prof. Mbazira emphasised the need for students to read extensively as a requirement by the profession, “You can’t do a case unless you read, you can’t provide legal advise unless you read. Lawyers do a lot of constant reading, but one important thing is that once lawyers graduate, you can’t get another solid four years of reading so the four years is a golden chance for you to read.
“You may not realize that during the four years of reading the knowledge you acquire is going to help you at a certain stage. It may not help you to pass exams but helps to shape you as a lawyer, it helps to give you knowledge that you will later grow on; to represent clients, provide legal advice, to be a legislator and so forth” he added.
The Principal urged the new students to take advantage of the fact that, Makerere has the best faculty, prominent legal academics with experience both within and outside Uganda and the best law library in the country.
“The law profession is diverse, I know what most of you have is that a lawyer is some one who goes to court or seats as a judge, but you are going to discover that the legal profession is so rich that graduates of this school have done so many things including: legal practitioners, judges and magistrates, judicature, state attorneys in various capacities, lawyers of the state, prosecuting cases, giving legal advise and guiding approaches in the legislative processes, providing legal service to corporate entities, private companies, public companies, some working as company secretaries, public interest litigation among others. The legal profession is a profession that enables you to work anywhere, lawyers can work in a hospital because hospitals give legal advise, they have corporate matters that require lawyers to advice on” elaborated the Principal.
Prof. Mbazira concluded by warning students against becoming victims of self destructive behaviour. “Not everybody who attends this orientation attends the graduation ceremony due to both natural and man-made causes. Students tend to block their opportunities. I, the Deputy Principal and Heads of Department have an open door policy, and so does the Students leadership, don’t hesitate to contact us”.
A team of staff from the Counseling and Guidance Centre led by the Manager Mr. Henry Nsubuga oriented the students on the need for both psychological and mental health while in school. “We are here today but we don’t know what might befall us, tragedy can befall us at any time that’s why the university provides counseling and guidance services. Students should avoid postponing seeking help for whatever issues they may have.”
he Makerere Law Society (MLS) President, Mr. Mpindi Percy welcomed the new students. He noted that the society was formed in 1971 to represent students interests, and unveiled the first ever students’ orientation handbook by the Law Society. The Handbook documents various experiences of current students and alumni of the school. He concluded by encouraging students to always reach out to MLS for assistance.
In her remarks on Sexual harassment, Prof Sylvia Tamale defined the vice as unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or unwanted physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct. “Sexual harassment isn’t rape like most people think, no!”
She added that Makerere University has zero-tolerance for sexual harassment. “Sexual harassment is prohibited for both on and off-campus settings for Students, desk staff, administrative staff, support staff, contractors, visitors and researchers” she explained.
According to Prof. Tamale, beyond rules and policies, African people are guided by one important concept, ‘obuntu – buntubulamu’. She added that African people share a value which speaks to the maxim ‘I am because we are’ which means that you should treat the other the way you would like to be treated (with passion). “African people knew the value before the whites brought the bible.”
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Uganda Law Society (ULS) Mr. Moses Okwalinga shared that the legal profession is a lifetime commitment. “You remain an advocate/lawyer for life. What you have started is not just a career but a lifetime experience which you will pursue even after retirement.”
He urged students to be mindful of the friends they choose since they have an impact on their lives.He asked them to define their values and avoid bad company. “When you hang out with a group, their perception is your perception. This course gives you so much confidence but what you do with what you learn is very important. Remember that u came here alone. How you use what you learn is very key; the bad name will follow you all through” he said.
Prof. Ronald Mayambala, from the Department of Environmental Law urged students to honor the timetable, attend class, and avoid things that will put them in trouble either by bad company or wrong association. “Excessive politics may not be compatible with your studies, becoming religious fanatics is not good. Always balance.”
Article Written By Kasemiire Mariam, Web Administrator School of Law