Pacific McGeorge law students participated in the school's first summer program in Uganda. Eleven Pacific students and 12 students from Uganda participated in the three-week program that combines classroom and hands-on experience in the Ugandan legal sector.

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Pacific McGeorge Uganda Summer Program Expands Students' Legal Experience

New this year, the Pacific McGeorge Uganda Law and Development Practicum summer program gave law students a great chance to apply what they learned in the classroom.
Aug 7, 2013

Distinguished Professor Linda Carter conceived and directed the three-week program that combines an experiential component and a classroom component. In the experiential part, the students interned with judges in the High Court. The classroom portion was a seminar on local, national, and regional levels of the justice sector. Pacific McGeorge partnered with the International Law Institute-African Centre for Legal Excellence (ILI-ACLE), based in Kampala, where alumna Yen Phan, '12, currently works.

Eleven Pacific McGeorge students who had just finished their first or second years made the journey to Kampala. In addition, 12 Ugandan law students participated in the seminar portion of the program. The Ugandan students were either in the third or fourth year of university study or were graduates who were enrolled in the post-graduate Law Development Centre (LDC). In order to practice law in Uganda, one must have a law degree and also complete the highly competitive LDC program, which includes considerable practical training and a final exam that serves as the equivalent of a bar exam in the U.S.

"All students, American and Ugandan, were highly engaged in the discussions and also became good friends with each other," said Carter.

The experiential component of the program consisted of internships with judges of the Kampala High Court. The High Court is divided into many different divisions, and Pacific McGeorge students interned in the Land, Civil, Criminal, Anti-Corruption, and International Crimes Divisions. Students worked with a specific judge by researching issues in pending cases or conducted general research on issues that often arise in the Court.

Hands-on Experience

Tony Schiavo and Bobby Walker worked in the Land Division and both drafted a judgment in pending cases. The cases they worked on included an allegation of fraud in obtaining a title in abrogation of the rights of an occupant with an expired lease and a contest over who were the proper successors to the title to property. They also conducted research on comparative property tax laws of Uganda, Nevada, and California.

Kristin Capritto and Coleman Segal worked in the Civil Division. They wrote papers and memos on employment law. Cases involved special damages and the consequences of a failure to produce discovery material as ordered by the court under both Ugandan and U.S. law and the rights of LGBT groups to meet and discuss health and safety issues.

Doug Ropel and Bruce Pence worked in the Criminal Division. They researched corroboration laws for child witnesses in Uganda, the U.S. and selected Commonwealth countries, which included Uganda, the U.K., Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Katie Reed, Alex Khan, and Kastle Lund conducted two research projects in the Anti-Corruption Division. The first was to research responses to media misinformation about cases, comparing countries with little to no media regulation to countries with more regulations or where the courts have developed a media policy. The second project considered corporate criminal liability, which is very underdeveloped in Uganda.

Vince Wiraatmadja and Hannah Sleznikow worked in the International Crimes Division on a case involving Kenyan nationals who were turned over to Uganda on charges relating to a bombing in Kampala without following the proper extradition procedure.

In the classroom

The second part of the program was a seminar that met for four hours each Friday. The theme was "Law and Development," and the focus was on the justice sector, with a consideration of developments on the local, national, and regional levels. Also as part of the program, students made excursions to Parliament and USAID where they learned about the SAFE Project, which is funding local justice efforts.

"The Uganda Practicum program was nothing short of outstanding," said Kristin Capritto. "There is simply no way to adequately convey how powerful and enriching our time there was. I feel more prepared to enter the practice of law at a time when lawyers find themselves required to engage persons, laws, and governments on a global stage, and more importantly, my heart and spirit have been changed forever."

Four of the students from the Practicum, Kastle Lund, Bruce Pence, Coleman Segal, and Hannah Sleznikow, stayed to participate in a seven-week Field Placement program in Kampala with internships at either the High Court or with an NGO. 

McGeorge Students Deliver School Supplies to Ugandan Children While Studying in Kampala

Prior to their departure for Uganda, the McGeorge students and faculty members had gathered school supplies for children in an orphanage there. They took time out from their studies to deliver the supplies they collected, which filled two large suitcases - more than 100 pounds of school supplies. The children were thrilled; some had never had their own school supplies.