THE IMPORTANCE OF GROUP WORK IN LAW SCHOOL IN KENYA
It has been a long while since I last drafted an article aimed at academics in law school. While In the UK I can hardly remember doing any graded work in groups while at university. This consequently led to the belief that, it was not a necessary or essential skill for me to have, even though I still endeavored to have it. I was therefore under an illusion of sorts that it would not be important. Every law school has developed a curriculum different from other law schools coming before it; in a bid to create unique traits in the graduates to whom it awards degrees during congregations. Riara University is one such institution. It has come under heavy criticism, perhaps from those that are jealous of the incredible reputation it has developed in such a short span of time.
I interviewed for places at all institutions in Kenya that have a reputation in the legal practice including The University of Nairobi, which does not conduct face to face interviews with the candidates it enrolls and to be honest, I can go on record as not having been impressed by the conversations or qualifications held by most of them. A university with faculty that lacks ambition is no different a ship that lacks a sail and expects the winds of the sea to propel It forward. All this institutions may have a faculty that is ambitious but none is as ambitious and as boisterous as the Riara University School Of Law. The Vision of the future that these mentors continually impart in us is just insurmountable (for lack of a better word). This Vision is the perfect balance of Idealism and Realism. But that is all beside the point.
One of the new Ideas that the Riara University Curriculum embeds in its candidates is a capacity for group work. We receive a gradable portion of work in each course unit we take, which is to be undertaken as group work. Just how practical is this though. It is tiring and hectic working in a group. Either, one group member leeches off of the others and contributes next to nothing. In the contrast an over ambitious team member may want to do all the work on his own and pass it on as group work. However, as time passes on, the members all realize that there is an inevitable need for all to equally contribute to the work. The sight of many surpasses the sight of a few. Why is group work important though?
If, as a law student in Kenya, you have done your reading, then you must have come across the typical Kenyan judicial practice that is (CONSOLIDATED JUDGEMENTS). A five judge bench attempts the great feat of producing a single judgment. I cannot fathom that a group of five could arrive at the same decision using the same reasoning. With the rare dissenting opinion of our next generation judges as was seen in the NICHOLAS KIPTOO ARAP KORIR SALAT V INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL AND BOUNDARIES COMMISSION & 7 OTHERS (2014). Yes, that was sarcasm. Don’t however underestimate the importance of group work. All lawyers have to learn to co-operate, work in teams or under someone at some point in their career. There is no lone wolf in law, other packs will eat you up.
So there you have it, if judges can sit down and do “group work” , how is it that we law students think that we can escape the knife that bled the justices of our great nation. Group work is an essential and important part of any law program, whether as a formative or a summative element. Treasure it.