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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Queen Mary supports free legal advisory service in Kenya

The Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS) at Queen Mary University of London is supporting a free legal advisory service in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with Strathmore University.

Legal textbooks on a desk

The initiative is a result of a year-long collaboration between Queen Mary’s pro bono commercial law clinic, qLegal, and Strathmore University’s Entrepreneurship Law Clinic.

Queen Mary’s qLegal, based at CCLS, is advising Strathmore University’s Entrepreneurship Law Clinic on how to deliver tailored legal advice to social enterprises, charities and entrepreneurs in Kenya.

Queen Mary’s Centre for Commercial Law Studies was established in 1980 by Professor Roy Goode to create an environment where practising commercial lawyers and those from academic could meet and exchange ideas. Over the past 40 years CCLS has become a world leader in commercial law research and teaching.

Supporting local communities

The legal advisory service aims to support the already strong entrepreneurial work being undertaken in Kenya. The country is continuing to develop its expertise and reputation as one of the leading investors in mobile technology in East Africa.

The one-to-one free advisory service is based on qLegal’s model but has been adapted to suit the requirements of clients in Kenya. Volunteers from leading law firms in Nairobi will be supervising Strathmore’s law students as they interview and provide tailored written advice to clients.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the training of the students and volunteer lawyers is being delivered online. Specific measures have also been put in place to ensure that client confidentiality is maintained throughout, despite the introduction of remote working practices.

Clemence Tanzi, qLegal Development Facilitator and Project Lead said: “After several years of developing programmes and resources to support student experience and growth, it has been a privilege to collaborate on this new project with Strathmore University Law Clinic.

“The enthusiasm and dedication to provide tailored legal advice to meet the needs of Kenyan entrepreneurs has come from across the board. Valuable contributions have been made by the leadership of the law school and existing law clinic, students and partnering law firms, as well as the existing centre for excellence at Strathmore Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT).”

Professor Ian Walden, Head of Queen Mary’s Centre for Commercial Law Studies said: “We’re delighted this collaboration further strengthens the relationship between CCLS and Strathmore. As CCLS celebrates its 40th anniversary and looks forward to the next 40 years, this initiative is another example of our commitment to commercial law as a means of supporting international development. It’s also another way in which our international alumni can stay actively involved, as they support the running of Strathmore’s clinic.”

Dr Kwenjera, Dean of Strathmore Law School, emphasised: “The collaboration with Queen Mary University is a very exciting new venture. Strathmore Law Clinic (SLC) is now expanding into the commercial field, which is very ripe with our students. Strathmore University did indeed start – and does still remain – as an entrepreneurship institution, thus this venture is one that is close to home. Under the Constitution of Kenya, social justice is of great importance and as lawyers, we have a duty to pursue social justice. The aim of the Clinic is indeed to uphold social justice and engage in initiatives that will promote that goal.”

A proud tradition of pro-bono work

The work being undertaken in Kenya builds on qLegal’s strong portfolio of work and its commitment to social and economic justice. The team at qLegal work across a range of complex issues including intellectual property matters relating to patents, copyright and trademarks as well as business structures, data protection compliance and non-disclosure agreements.

qLegal also undertakes outreach work where postgraduate law students visit local schools to teach the legal elements of developing a business idea. In addition to this, Queen Mary’s Department of Law of Law also has a thriving student pro bono society and a deep-rooted culture of pro bono and public engagement.

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