Mark Reinhardt - Kampala, Uganda
My wife and I have only one week left in Uganda, and work in the judiciary is winding down, so I figured I would give a quick recap of what a wonderful opportunity this had been:
For my 2011 summer I came to Uganda to clerk for the nation's Deputy Chief Justice. While working here, I've learned about how Ugandan law compares to U.S. law, and so much more. I have also been asked to draft legal memos, briefs, and opinions with an eye towards encouraging efficient economic development, while enforcing personal responsibility, equity, and justice. Some of the opinions I have written might even become part of the Ugandan common law, and could therefore steer the policy direction of an entire country, not to mention resulting in my work being published in a national law reporter! This experience has given me an opportunity to put my first-year legal education into practice in ways that would not have been available as a first-year summer extern in the States.
Coming to Uganda has also given me the chance to personally serve the least of these. All of the Pepperdine law students here in Uganda are taking part in Pepperdine's remand home work, where we draft case briefs for juvenile prisoners, who are trapped in remand homes long past the statutory limit, in an effort to expedite the pre-hearing phase of their cases. Many of the kids are innocent, but are stuck in remand homes until someone does the legwork to get their case before a judge. The work is challenging, and involves interviewing the kids through translators and sifting through large and convoluted police files, but it is so rewarding to know that we are making it possible for these kids to have their day in court.
As a side project, I also was able to develop a search engine, called Uliisearch.org, for all of the Ugandan law currently published online. The Ugandan Judiciary and many other members of the Ugandan Legal Community are now using this site, and every time they do they see that a student from Pepperdine made it at the bottom, further strengthening Pepperdine's international image.
Finally, I have been working on a prototype legal research website for Uganda, similar to Westlaw or LexisNexis, to pitch to Google and other programmers, in an effort to make all of Uganda's law freely and easily accessible to the public. Who knows where the site will go, but the Judiciary is excited about it, and it is a wonderful thing to be on the front end of what could make history for an entire country.
I chose to come to Uganda because I have always been passionate about international development and global justice. I came here to serve the least of these, the down-and-outs, the orphans, and the widows; however, it was not until I came here that I realized how much I would gain in return.