Miami Law Around the World: Connections in Africa


 Miami Law)Blair Santaspirt in Arusha, Tanzania (Photo: Miami Law)

Second in a 4-part series

Join us as we continue taking a globe-hopping overview of the University of Miami School of Law's connections across the continents.


Africa is also feeling the influence of Miami Law.

Professor Vinodh Jaichand took over August 1 as Dean and Head of the Oliver Schreiner School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He is only the second black person to be appointed as the Head Dean in the 91-year history of the institution.

Jaichand, who received his LL.M. in International Human Rights Law in May 1984, said his course in life was decided at Miami Law.

"Professor Chris Hall's seminar on International Human Rights Law set me on the academic path."

Jaichand is not the only scholar with connections to both South Africa and Miami Law. Professor Charlton Copeland served as a law clerk to Justices Richard J. Goldstone and Catherine O'Regan of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. And distinguished foreign visiting faculty member William Twining, a leading figure in British legal education and Fellow of the British Academy, has been involved in work relating to human rights, the preservation of legal records in Africa, and as a consultant in Tanzania and Uganda. Currently, the head of the Law School's LL.M. program in Ocean and Coastal Law, Professor Bernard H. Oxman, is serving as an arbitrator in a dispute between Ghana and Argentina.

Students, too, find rewarding work on the African continent.

This past summer, Blair Santaspirt, a 2014 J.D. candidate, prepared a report on human trafficking within Africa while working for the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) in Arusha, Tanznia. She also participated with the Tanzania Women's Lawyers Associations (TAWLA), visiting villages to talk about the importance of having wills in a country where laws do not adequately protect women and their children.

"Many times when a woman dies, without a husband, strangers or male relatives will take over the woman's property," Santaspirt said in an email. "If there is not a will verifying the woman's ownership of property and her desires for what will be done with the property there is no strong legal argument for her family."

Grant Lyons took on an internship at the Ministry of Justice in Kigali, Rwanda. One of his tasks was to revise the English version of the Rwandan Penal Code.

Lyons said the trip "positively influenced most aspects of my life, literally on a daily basis, more than any other major travel experience of mine—and I've spent summers in Europe, the Middle East, and China."