Uganda Fellow: The Job
A one-year position is open to our recent Pepperdine Law graduates where they have the opportunity to live and work in Uganda as a mediator and a coordinator for the work of the Global Justice Program throughout the year. Although currently the main job of the fellow is to implement mediation in the Family Division of the High Court, there are also other tasks expected to be performed. As Pepperdine leaders travel in and out of Uganda, the fellow is the permanent fixture on the ground, and with that comes a variety of responsibilities.
The day job of a Uganda fellow is a mediator in the Family Division of the High Court. The fellow schedules four to five mediations a day with families in need of assistance in reconciling their legal disputes to effectuate a more amicable outcome, rather than proceeding to litigation. These mediations begin with sitting down with the family, identifying the issue, and guiding them toward a resolution. This process can take anywhere from hours to months, depending on the family dynamics and complexity of the case.
Mediation in the family court is a relatively new development in the Ugandan High Court, and the Uganda fellow is responsible for ensuring its successful progression. Every day, the fellow checks in with administration staff in the registrar's office to help make the process of organizing, filing, and processing mediation files as efficient as possible. This can include coordinating staff trainings on proper administrative procedures and working with the staff on these procedures on a regular basis.
The Uganda fellow works as the only full time mediator in the Ugandan judiciary. As the goal is to implement a self-sustaining Ugandan run mediation program, recruiting pro bono mediators is an important task undertaken by the fellow. This can include attending and speaking at family law symposia to spur interest in the legal community, as well as meeting with pioneers in the commercial court mediation program for insight into possible setbacks and ideas.
In addition to working full time as a mediator, the Uganda fellow is responsible for acting as a year-round representative of Pepperdine and liaison between Uganda and the Global Justice Program. This includes keeping in regular contact with the Ugandan Justices and other friends of Pepperdine residing in Uganda. Pepperdine has a number of different projects in operation in Uganda and the fellow is responsible for maintaining those undertakings.
Every year, Pepperdine sends 10-12 interns to Uganda to work in different placements throughout the Ugandan Judiciary. The Uganda fellow is responsible for helping organize the interns' arrival and assisting in their acclimation into the Ugandan community. Approximately one month after the interns arrive in Uganda, a group of American lawyers arrive for a week-long trip to assist the Ugandan government in implementing plea bargaining into their criminal system. The fellow is responsible for assisting in the organization of that project and to participate in the prison work.
In addition to maintaining the existing programs Pepperdine has begun, it is also important for the fellow to continue developing relationships in Ugandan society and pursuing new projects. The duties and responsibilities of the Uganda fellow are fluid and require dedication to the mission of Pepperdine in assisting Ugandan leaders in fashioning a system that enhances justice and compassion. The fellow must be prepared to deviate from his or her day-to-day tasks to adjust to the needs of the Ugandan people he or she serves. This can range from formulating trainings and working closely with prestigious judges to navigating the streets of Uganda with 10-12 students.