Over the years, Strathmore University's strength has been known to be in the business field and not law.
However, Strathmore Law School is following in the footsteps of the Strathmore Business School which is among the top ranked in Kenya.
During a National moot court competition held at Egerton University on September 23, Strathmore University Law School beat 10 public and private universities to clinch the National Moot trophy.
The participating institutions included The University of Nairobi, Mount Kenya University, Moi University, Kenyatta University, Nazarene University, Catholic University of Eastern African, Kabarak University, Embu University and host Egerton University.
The competition, which was held for the first time at the Njoro-based campus, was organised by Egerton University Faculty of Law Legal Aid Project (FOLLAP) and supported by European Union and UNDP through the Amkeni Wakenya project.
Strathmore duo of Elvira Aketch and Jeff Melita emerged the best in the contest that emphasised the development of oral advocacy skills and understanding of international and local laws.
A total of 33 students participated in a hypothetical case before the African Court on Human and People's Rights between the Nyaredo Centre for Human Rights and the Republic of Gita.
The national moot court competition on access to justice theme was Matrimonial Property Rights in Kenya and involved respondents or applicants arguing the case in front of the mock court that was attended by Justice Christine Ochieng of the Environment and Land Court (ELC) in Machakos.
Other panellists included Mr Collins Odundo Odhiambo (Moi University School of Law), Ms Rahab Wakuraya Mureithi (Kabarak University Law School), Dr Maxwell Miyawa (Strathmore School of Law), Dr Victoria Miyandazi (Embu University School of Law) and Dr Nicholas Orago (University of Nairobi).
On the road to victory, Strathmore Law School scored 38.25 points against Kenyatta University School of Law which scored 34.5 points in a lively first semi-final. The second semi-final saw host Egerton University beat Catholic University of Eastern Africa 37-35.83 points.
The Catholic University of Eastern Africa was second runners up while the best memorials trophy went to Strathmore Law School followed by the Catholic University of Eastern Africa who clinched the runners-up trophy in the same category.
The pride of place went to Kenson Mutethia of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and Elvira Aketch of Strathmore School of Law who were declared the best orators for their exceptional oral advocacy skills and arguments.
"It was a great experience. The preparations were intense. We gave our best. I'm happy we were able to showcase our practical legal skills and finished runners-up with three trophies. We're human rights defenders and the Matrimonial Properties rights theme was timely," said Mutethia, a third-year student who hopes to specialise in Constitutional Law to engineer social transformation in the society.
His colleague Mercy Gatwiria Mbabu, a fourth-year student said her passion has always been in human rights.
"It took a lot of sacrifices to finish second and we thank God for this deserved victory," said Ms Gatwiria.
"These practical skills competitions have been an experience of growth and have offered me an opportunity to hone skills that I will use as a practitioner when I complete my studies," said Ms Aketch, 20, who is a third-year student.
"I have learned never to give up and the shortfalls the judges pointed out during my argument were uplifting as they will make me a better lawyer in future," she added.
Her colleague Jeff Melita said some of the lessons he picked in the competition is humility, persistence, and the value of hard work.
"I thank God for the victory and our lecturers Mr Eugene Kanyugo and Mr Patrick Nzomo who gave us moral support and prepared us well for this competition," said Mr Melita, a third-year student.
Fourth-year student Aluda Amoshe from Egerton University School of Law said the experience was educative: “I gained more knowledge on matrimonial property rights in Kenya."
"I have learned that theory lessons are different from practicals. Standing in front of a High Court Judge gave me a lot of confidence. The experience has taught me to prepare well and have good content to convince the judge," said Fatma Razik who is a fourth-year student at Egerton University School of Law.
Egerton University Dean Faculty of Law Dr Ruth Aura said the moot court process allows law students to develop oral and written advocacy skills, to compete with students from law schools across the country, and to meet practitioners and sharpen their skills as they prepare to become advocates.
"The competition looked at international law that Kenya has ratified and how it can be domesticated through moot court competition to gauge how students understand international law and how they can apply it within the domestic arena to give effects to national law that is non-compliance with obligations Kenya has ratified," said Dr Aura.
“The moot court deepens the understanding of students of local and international law. We use the moot court to prepare students for their future careers as advocates because during moot court students are given hypothetical cases that require them to summarise the facts and apply them to the law that is relevant to solve a specific issue," added Dr Aura.
Justice Ochieng' said the students demonstrated good talents in the moot court arguing human rights cases.
"If the human right is your strength, please nurture it as that is where your strength is, and if you feel you have found your niche, grow it and you will be going places," said Justice Ochieng'.
She urged the students to be people of integrity and maintain professional ethics.
"Maintain integrity because as the saying goes, you will eat with your name. Don't dip your hands in the honey pot accounts of your clients. If you maintain integrity you will avoid Ethics and Ant-Corruption Commission (EACC). Put up a spirited fight in court and learn to summarise your issues, be very articulate and have conviction even if the facts you're working on are not easy," she said.
Empowering the youth
The project manager UNDP, Dr Wambua Kituku said UNDP in Kenya prioritises the empowering of the youth in the country and has identified the promotion of gender equality as one of the key areas to ensure there is equitable and sustainable development across the globe.
"The theme of the competition matrimonial properties rights in Kenya gels very well with work of the UNDP. I urge you to inculcate the art of giving back to the society as you bring social change through legal aid clinics which helps the poor and marginalised access justice," said Dr Kituku
Egerton University Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Ongubo Kibwage said the support from the European Union and UNDP has been a catalyst. "It has equipped law students with practical skills for the market needs."
"Egerton University is proud to be part of the efforts to remove obstacles in the path of justice for the weak in the society. A moot court competition is a catalyst for policy and legislative changes in the interest of equality and justice for all and a platform to exchange ideas," said Prof Kibwage.