The Students’ Association for Legal Aid and Research (SALAR) is a non-profit making students’ organization established at the University of Nairobi, School of Law in 1999.
The idea of establishing SALAR was conceptualized by two founders, namely, Professor Louise McKinney of the Milton Kramer Law Clinic of Case University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio, USA and Ms. Joy K. Asiema, the current Patron of SALAR, a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Public Law, University of Nairobi, School of Law.
Prof. McKinney and Ms. Asiema first met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1996 at a Clinical Legal Education Training Workshop. The workshop was organized by the American Bar Association Africa Sister Law School Initiative Programme (ASLSIP) and the United States Information Service. Under the ASLSIP, East African University law faculties were partnered with selected US law schools to undergo capacity building training in Clinical Legal Education methodology for academic staff. The training took place in Nairobi, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Addis Ababa and USA. Prof. McKinney was seconded to the University of Addis Ababa in 1996 for this purpose. In 1998, she came to the University of Nairobi, School of Law as a Fulbright Visiting Professor. The idea of establishing SALAR was conceived and with the participation of students, SALAR was established in 1999 as an organization within the School of Law, University of Nairobi. Prof. McKinney has since visited the School several times to follow up on SALAR projects and she has become a great friend of the School.
The principal objectives of SALAR are:
SALAR collaborates with legal aid NGOs at local, regional and international levels. Students of the School of Law who are registered members of SALAR interview live clients to obtain their case history. They then carry out research and write briefs on those cases. The briefs are then forwarded to the NGOs. Using these briefs, the NGOs refer the cases to their pro bono lawyers for action. The students carry out these functions under the supervision of the Patron and other professionals that SALAR partners with.
SALAR is a means by which students give back to the community for the privilege of being in the noble profession of Law. They do this by providing legal aid and outreach services through the organisations it collaborates with. SALAR also provides an avenue for students to engage in a wide range of research activities with the aim of advancing student intellectual capacity and research prowess. Currently, SALAR in collaboration with Literature Africa Foundation, mentors pupils of two primary schools in Korogocho slums. In addition, SALAR offers legal aid, mentors and organizes football matches with Kamiti Youth Corrective Training Centre (KYCTC).
Before becoming members of SALAR, students undergo special training on client interviewing and counselling skills, fact investigation, legal writing and research methodology, case file management and professional ethics.
The membership of SALAR has grown tremendously since 1999 and now commands a large following both in the current membership of the School of Law, numbering 200 students annually, as well as alumni of past students. SALAR launched the Mombasa Campus Chapter in 2012 and is in the process of launching the Kisumu Campus Chapter.
SALAR enjoys an extremely good reputation within the School and the entire University of Nairobi fraternity and is well respected by the organizations that it collaborates with nationally, regionally and internationally.