Clinical Legal Education and Free Legal Aid Services

Since the launching of its LL.B program in 1963, the objective of legal education at the School of Law has been aiming at producing graduates who (a) have an in-depth understanding of theoretical and substantive aspects of the law, (b) appreciate the real impact of the laws on societal life with written, oral, and interpersonal skills to practice law and (c) promote access to justice.

Over the years, several curricular reforms have been undertaken in the pursuit of these objectives. The current Revised LL.B Curriculum put in place since 2021 has emphasized clinical courses.  The clinical courses are meant to give students of the School an opportunity to see the law in action and its implications on real lives. The School believes its clinical coursest create opportunity for students to understand the effects of the law in practice and to espouse causes of justice. The clinical courses also equip students with various skills required to practice law. The Clinical courses are further believed to give the School a particular opportunity to engage in community service endeavors by providing free legal aid services especially to the poor and promote social justice agenda. The School has employed a fulltime academic staff with the rank of lecturer responsible to teach clinical courses and administer clinical programs.

In December 2014, the School entered into a two year project agreement under “Clinical Legal Education Public Interest Project” with the Royal Danish Embassy in Addis Ababa which provided financial assistance. With the assistance of this project, four Legal Aid Centers were opened the first Center that provided free legal aid services to the local community became operational in April 30, 2015 in the main campus of the University at Sidist Killo. The Lideta First Instance Court and Oromia Supreme Court centers started operation on June 29, 2015.  The fourth center, located at the Federal First Instance Court building around Kera was opened in 2016. The project expired in March 2017.

Since July 2017, a new project entitled “Widening Access to Justice through Clinical Legal Education in Addis Ababa and its Environs” was launched with the assistance of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor with the overall all objectives of supporting the School in pursuing its educational and social justice agenda. This project also aims at maintaining the clinical legal education program and legal aid services that were established under the Clinical Legal Education Public Interest Project and to scale-up and widen activities aimed at improving access to justice to the needy, the indigents and other vulnerable sections of the society in Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas.

Currently, the School is running six legal aid centers with the assistance of the University funding providing general free legal aid services to the local community and one of the centers is dedicated to provide legal aid to refugees and asylum seekers in partnership with the UNHCR.