Justice Advocacy Africa is a non-profit organisation that first held an Access to Justice Trial Advocacy Program in Kenya in 2009.In that year, Justice Advocacy Africa (at the time an affiliate of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy) collaborated with the Kenya School of Law and Kituo cha Sheria (Centre for Legal Empowerment).
The training is intended to build local capacity in trial advocacy training of young lawyers mainly those involved in pro bono work and also simultaneously train experienced legal practitioners and members of the bench to serve as future volunteer trainers and also to rise and make uniform the standards of practice in our courts.
The skills obtained in the training were intended to enhance efficiency in the justice process before the courts and related tribunals, make the advocates more effective and result in successful conduct of trials handled by the advocates. The previous trainings have been successful with the lawyers’ trained exuding renewed confidence to put into practice the skills acquired at the training.
NATURE OF THE COURSE
The Trial Advocacy Training is a productive five days of intensive work on the participants’ trial skills. One of the critical aspects of a system of justice is the ability of advocates to present the factual and legal aspects of their cases persuasively so as to permit the Court to reach an enlightened and just result. One can acquire the necessary skills to be an effective advocate through focused practice by which one demonstrates their achievement. Just as a professional athlete cannot acquire the necessary accomplishment of the sport by listening to another talk about the game, trial lawyers cannot learn how to stand up in court, conduct examination in chief and cross examination and argue to the court without actually doing these tasks. This program uses the instructional method pioneered by the national institute of Trial Advocacy called “learning by doing,” that is, performing and practicing trial skills.
The focus of the training is on the trainee. It involves each participant in each breakout session standing up and conducting portions of a courtroom presentation just as they would do so in court. Following each of the presentations faculty members provide feedback, including suggestions as to how the performance might be improved next time. The learning is by doing, by listening to the feedback for one’s own performance, and from to the performances of and feedback given to the participant’s colleagues.
The program places emphasis on:
Being prepared for each exercise.
Being willing to take personal risks.
In the end, effective and persuasive advocacy is an essential component of any legal system the end products of which are respect for legal institutions and achievement of justice. The reason we as faculty are most appreciative of this opportunity to work with you is that each of us sees that our mission as lawyers is to promote these goals both in our own work and in the work of our colleagues.
DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE PROGRAMS HELD IN KENYA
Capacity was built that has resulted in holding of similar programs as follows:
Kenya School of Law-2010, 2011, 2016(Teacher training in 2012)
Mombasa-2012, 2013, 2015, 2016
Machakos, under auspices of the Judiciary Training Institute-January 2016
From these programs, almost 350 lawyers have taken the course in Kenya alone.
A few facts arising from these intensive Trainings are:
Three lawyers from Kituo cha Sheria who took the program in 2009 applied the skills learnt in a historic petition to allow prisoners to vote in the 2010 referendum and the petition was allowed after they led an expert witness in testimony during hearing of the petition.
A case file based on a local (Kenyan) problem has been developed in collaboration with the Judiciary Training Institute, based on Wildlife crime.
Kenyan Alumni of the Program who have since taken the Teacher training course have served as Trainers in other programs held in Botswana and Uganda.
BENEFITS THAT HAVE COME FROM THE PROGRAM
Increasing uniformity and high standard of court practice by lawyers who have taken the program and former ATP students who apply the principles of Trial advocacy in their practice including lawyers providing pro bono.
Increased interaction between the Bar and the bench, through among others Judges and Magistrates who have served as guest speakers and even others who have taken the training.
Alumni of the JAA teacher training program serve at the only bar school in Kenya, the Kenya School of Law as lecturers of Trial Advocacy.
OPPORTUNITIES TO SUPPORT THE PROGRAM
Sponsorship of young Advocates to attend the course.
Meeting some items of the budget, details of which can be obtained from the Nairobi Law Society secretariat.
Endorsement of the program through infomercials.
Serving as a Judge at the full trial held on the last day of the course.