Hamline Law Professor Angela McCaffrey, who directs the clinical law program at Hamline University School of Law, is lending support to an initiative aimed at establishing a law clinic in Nigeria. The initiative is the result of efforts by Lilian Ejebe, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services staff attorney and Hamline Clinical adjunct professor, who attended law school and worked as a magistrate in Nigeria before coming to Minnesota. In addition to support from Professor McCaffrey, the initiative also is backed by the Director of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Nwaka Laetitia Akinlami.
The effort gained momentum recently when Ejebe presented a talk, "Promotion of Clinical Legal Education by the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria," at the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) Conference in December 2008. Conference participants, including Professor McCaffrey, provided feedback and recommendations to help move the initiative forward.
"We suggested looking at programs already in place, provided an understanding of the current level of legal services in Nigeria as well as the gaps, and made suggestions on how to structure programs that are professionally sound for law students while providing good representation to clients," said Professor McCaffrey.
Professor McCaffrey also co-presented, along with Ann Juergens of William Mitchell College of Law, at the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) Conference at the Ateneo Law School and Human Rights Center in Manila, Philippines. The topic was "Effective Interviewing as a Tool for Justice," which addressed the need for finely developed listening skills by lawyers who are working with clients who have suffered injustice and included a discussion of best practices for interviewing that all law students need.
"We discussed the particular listening skills needed when lawyers interview people who have been traumatized, including suggestions from psychotherapy experts. Of particular interest was a role-playing exercise that allowed the group to role play interviewing a hypothetical client who had been the victim of human trafficking," noted Professor McCaffrey.
The event was the fifth worldwide GAJE-sponsored conference for the purpose of helping create and sustain legal education programs that promote justice -- a particularly challenging goal in many countries due to poverty and corruption.