CBJC and Strathmore Law School Students Meet on Access to Justice
by Stephanie Guzman May 16, 2017
As part of the City Bar’s ongoing efforts to engage and inspire the next generation of attorneys, on May 9, 2017, the City Bar Justice Center met with students from Strathmore Law School in Kenya as part of a visit organized by the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. Dr. Luis G. Franceschi, Dean of Strathmore Law School, and the Honorable Dr. Willy Mutunga, Former Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, participated in a spirited roundtable discussion regarding increasing access to justice through legal services and pro bono representation for vulnerable communities. Brenda Kombo represented the Vance Center.
Executive Director Lynn Kelly provided our Kenyan guests with an overview of the various pro bono projects housed within the City Bar Justice Center, and its mobilization of pro bono resources to assist low income people with legal matters.
Immigrant Justice Project (IJP) Co-Director Jennifer Kim described the increasingly hostile legal landscape facing our clients and immigrant communities under the new Administration. Jennifer also gave a compelling account of the harmful stereotypes affecting undocumented people in the U.S., particularly asylum seekers fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries, and highlighted the inspiring response from lawyers in New York City to advocate, protect, and assist vulnerable immigrant communities.
IJP Coordinator Stephanie Guzmán, herself the child of immigrants, emphasized the importance of humanizing immigrant stories to combat the virulent rhetoric that keeps many immigrants and their families in the shadows, afraid to seek help and easier to exploit. She showed a brief video clip showcasing two young immigrants who obtained legal status through the work of IJP.
Wendy Dolce, Staff Attorney for the Foreclosure Prevention Project, shared stories and lessons learned from using her lawyering skills during her services as a Human Rights Officer with the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan and her work in Haiti. Wendy stressed the significance of empowering local individuals and communities to tackle problems.
Strathmore Law School students posed challenging questions which prompted engaging discussions on the impact of climate change on the future flow of immigrants, leveraging resources to meet needs, and how law students can contribute their skills and education to strengthening access to justice. The enriching meeting concluded with a beautiful and inspiring poem delivered by Natasha, a Rwandan student at Strathmore. Natasha encouraged all to be brave, to be bold, to be compassionate and to just be the conduit of justice for all.
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