New Perimeter

Our Global Pro Bono Initiative

From the field

A virtual journal from DLA Piper lawyers who work on legal pro bono projects of vital importance around the globe.

Coming Home to UNZA

Posted on 7 July 2017 by Yasho Lahiri

With apologies to Thomas Wolfe, sometimes you can go home again. Not long after I joined DLA Piper, I learned of its non-profit affiliate New Perimeter's program teaching at the University of Zambia School of Law. I knew I wanted to be a part of the program, if they would have me. They did, and I was a part of the team teaching at UNZA earlier this year. Now that I am back, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

My mother taught at the University of Zambia for much of the 1970s, and some of my happiest childhood memories were of riding a bicycle around its then-brand new campus and of exploring its libraries and other wonders. Perhaps the best part of my education had been in Lusaka, perhaps equally due to the International School of Lusaka, where I went, and the free run I had had of the public library downtown. I had many memories of Zambia, and a group of close friends from those days who are still very dear to me. In sum, I owed Zambia much, a debt only compounded since we left in 1979.

It would take 5,000 words, not 500, to do an adequate job of describing the week that was. Instead, I give you a number of impressionistic glimpses that, together, perhaps give a sense of how vibrant the week, UNZA and Zambia were:

The New Perimeter program at UNZA brought together a varied group of lawyers who, by week's end, would be quite a team. From Boehringer-Ingelheim were Stefanie Bock-Kreilinger (Vienna), Wendy Hufford (Connecticut), and Alexander Maringer (Germany). The DLA participants were our team leader, Crystal Doyle (Chicago), Rachel Williams (Birmingham), Neal Kronley (New York), Jayne Risk (Philadelphia), and Stuart Morrow (Vancouver).

The law program at UNZA begins in the second year a student is at the University. Competition to get into the program is intense, with fewer than one in seven applicants being granted a place. The students come from a variety of educational backgrounds, from private schools in Lusaka to rural schools.

The students are marvels. They are hard-working, determined, and friendly. They dug in to complicated legal issues with delight, and the quality of the analysis and of the writing they produced by the end of our week with them was something to be justifiably proud of. They likely taught the teachers more than the teachers taught them.

The week went by in a blur. The intense classes going through a mass of complex material were leavened by the camaraderie developed amongst the students and teachers – including impromptu singing during our last lunch at the law school –the photos and group selfies that will long bring a smile to my face, the chance to visit my mother's old department, the many excellent meals and conversations with a group of teachers who began as strangers but ended up as brothers and sisters, and the warmth of our hosts at UNZA and at the local DLA Piper affiliate, Chibesakunda and Company. All these experiences will live long in my memories, and will bring a smile to my face whenever they are recalled. I thank everyone involved for letting me be a small part of the project.

Yasho teaches legal writing skills to UNZA law school students

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