International Street Law Best Practices explored at UKZN Law Conference

30th anniversary of the first international Street Law programme and UKZN’s Street Law co-founder, the late Ed O’Brien celebrated at the Law conference.

UKZN’s School of Law commemorated the 30th anniversary of the first international Street Law programme established at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 1986 by hosting the Ed O’Brien International Street Law Best Practices Conference. The Conference was in honour of the late legal academic and Street law Co-founder in the United States,  Ed O’Brien, who assisted Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Dean of Law at the then University of Natal (now UKZN), to establish the South African Street Law programme.

The Conference recently took place at Howard College and saw Law teachers, Law clinicians and Law educators running Street Law, community outreach and legal literacy programmes from different parts of the world share their best practices, lessons and projects on Street Law. Twenty papers were presented by 24 speakers from 16 countries.

During his address, UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said the conference plays an important role in building the University’s legacy.

‘We have started a conversation on moral regeneration and our moral campus because every one wonders what happened to the wonderful aspirations we had for this country 22 years ago. As people of the law we want you to be part of that conversation and use the research presented at this conference to impact society,’ he said.

Apart from delivering presentations on various aspects of Street Law such as curriculum development; Street Law and human rights education; using Street Law to teach about commercial and labour law and others, delegates at the Conference also had an opportunity to pay tribute to the late Ed O’Brien by saying a few words on the legal academic’s legacy.

School of Law Dean and Head, Professor Managay Reddi describe O’Brien as a man with foresight to start something that 30 years on has expanded and grown in ways no one had envisaged. She applauded O’Brien for his role in working with UKZN’s Acting Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Street Law Founder of Street Law in South Africa, Professor McQuoid-Mason, which has seen McQuoid-Mason travel to over 129 countries, in many of which he has promoted Street Law.

Other speakers included South Africa’s Human Rights Commission Commissioner Mr Mahomed Ameermia, an early Street Law student, who attributed the global success of Street Law to O’Brien.  Mr Bheki Gumede, another former Street Law student and CEO of the Africore Group, on behalf of Mr Mandla Mchunu, Executive Chairman of the Africare Group and UKZN’s first Street Law Co-ordinator, thanked O’Brien and McQuoid-Mason for their vision of Street Law which had a great influence on Mchunu’s career growth and set him apart from his peers.

Ms Margaret Fisher from the Seattle University School of Law said O’Brien had achieved his mission of taking the Street Law to as many people as he could. O’Brien’s widow, Mrs May O’Brien, shared memories of her life with O’Brien and how he was a man who lived to serve the people, and how he would be counting on the Conference participants to carry on with his legacy.

For more information on the conference visit:

Thandiwe Jumo

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