Switalskis Solicitors undertake pro bono work in Uganda

By Amy Clowrey, Solicitor, Child Abuse Claims

On 04 November 2017, Ranjit Uppal (Director, Solicitor Advocate) and I travelled to Uganda with Sarah Young and John Royle of Ridley and Hall. We travelled to Uganda as committee members of the Huddersfield Law Society Uganda Twinning Group (HLSUTG) to speak at a conference, entitled ‘Developing Excellence in a Law Firm’. This coincides with national pro bono week.

The HLSTUG have provided training and development in Uganda since 2003. The programme has grown in popularity year on year, and it was no different this year, with an impressive 300 delegates attending the event. It is clear that the conference has become a firm fixture in the annual educational programme of the Uganda Law Society.

The annual conference isn’t the only work undertaken by the committee. Over the years the HLSUTG have:

  • Provided over 6,000 text books and training DVDs to create a resource centre in Kampala.
  • Assisted in setting up a project which provides legal representation and advice to protect the children of Patongo, Northern Uganda. This is in partnership with Chance for Childhood and the Uganda Law Society, with funding from the Law Society charity.

Unlike my travel companions, it was the first time I had travelled to Uganda and spoken in front of so many people, but despite my nerves, it was both an enjoyable and enlightening experience.

The conference took place over two days, 7/8 November, at the Uganda Law Society with over 300 lawyers from across Uganda attending.

The first day of the conference saw seminars on ethics, management and advocacy. We also heard from the current President, Francis Gimara, and the immediate past-President, Ruth Sebatindira, of the Uganda Law Society. The second day was specifically aimed at business development and saw seminars on profitability, strategy, marketing, social media and pro bono and volunteer work. We also conducted a workshop on partnership, John Royale being the senior partner in the role play and myself as the junior partner.

Whilst in Uganda, we also visited the village of Kyema, Missindi, in the Northern Region of the country, with Huddersfield-based children’s charity Meltham Mustard Seed. The charity helps raise funds for orphaned children in Kyema who have been placed with kinship carers or foster carers. Funds raised by Mustard Seed go towards the children’s welfare, medical and educational needs.

On Friday we attended Kyema school, where we took our overalls and paint brushes and got ‘hands on’ helping to make the school a clean and comfortable learning environment for the children. A very different experience from talking at the conference a few days earlier!

Overall, being involved with the HLSUTG and the annual conference has been invaluable experience. For those who are interested in volunteering, I would strongly recommend getting involved with the HLSUTG or other similar pro bono initiatives in your local area. Not only are you making a difference, but you are also developing yourself both personally and professionally.

Get involved!