My experience with the Global Justice Program in Uganda was almost entirely positive.
I was lucky enough to be placed in the Commercial Court, working under Justice Kiryabwire, who is essentially the ambassador of the Global Justice Program inside the Ugandan judiciary. He knew exactly what to expect from me as an extern, and was always available to provide advice, guidance, or additional work whenever anything was needed. The law that I was working with in my placement was unexpectedly similar to the law that I had learned during my 1L year at Pepperdine: a whole lot of Contracts principles with some Property and Civil Procedure mixed in for good measure. Our assignments were quite varied. Sometimes I was required to summarize and provide recommendations on Uganda law using only local precedent. In other instances I was tasked with finding one or two U.S. decisions that would bolster Justice K’s East African research on a specific point of law. And often I was required to produce a mixture of those two types of research into one concise document. Overall, I feel as though I received hands-on, practical, and – most of all – interesting legal experience.
The most rewarding experience was the time that we spent as a group in Masindi, working with the children’s remand home. Personally, it was amazing to go from sitting in a 1L classroom, stressing over my Criminal Law final, to sitting across from a tearful witness involved in a murder case that I was tasked with preparing the documents for. Together with Dean Carol Chase and the rest of my sub-group, I worked for three straight days to prepare children’s documents for their hearings. It was an incredible experience, and gave all of us a real sense of purpose that sustained us for the rest of our trip and will hopefully continue to inspire us when we return to Malibu.
On my downtime, I was able to see most of Uganda. I safaried on the rivers and over the dirt roads of the Murcheson Falls area. I rafted (and occasionally swam) intense rapids in the Nile. I bungee jumped into parasite infested waters, and escaped without illness (sorry, Megan). I hiked through the Bwindi forest on the border of the Congo to visit with mountain gorillas. Even with all these incredible experiences stuffed in my back pocket, I am most proud of the friendships that I was able to make while living in Kampala. From Kenny, Joshua, and the rest of the gang at the KICK Foundation, to my daily chats with Paul at 1,000 Cups Coffee House, the friendly and open nature of the Ugandan people is what I will miss most when I return to Pepperdine for year number two.