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Attorney Keneilwe Modise from Botswana Visits UC Law to Conduct Research on Domestic Violence


Once again this fall, a new class of students began at the College of Law – each coming from diverse backgrounds and experiences. But another new face inside the College of Law this semester is that of Keneilwe “Kenny” Modise, a practicing attorney from Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana.

Modise arrived in August and is involved with the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic, as well as the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. “Besides that, I am also doing research, but it is also on domestic violence,” Modise said in a recent interview. “I am going to do research that, hopefully by October or November, I am going to share with the Human Rights class.”

Modise – who flew in via a connection from New York, by way of her Botswana’s neighboring country, South Africa – is getting her first taste of the United States in Cincinnati.

She had been in town for just two weeks at the time of the interview, but now that she has been in Cincinnati for about a month, she is starting to get more acclimated to her new surroundings and all the city has to offer.

Modise came to UC Law as part of an exchange program involving the Honorable Unity Dow, a retired judge, human rights activist and novelist from Botswana. Justice Dow, who opened Dow & Associates in her homeland in early 2010, has been affiliated with the College of Law for the past 23 years. She is on the Urban Morgan Institute’s advisory board, while Professor Bert Lockwood, director of the Institute, has been sending Urban Morgan fellows to intern with Dow each summer.

In addition to working with Professor Lockwood, Modise spends much of her time downtown at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, which houses the domestic violence clinic. She has been assisting clients and working closely with Kenyatta Mickles, a visiting professor of clinical law and the supervising attorney of the clinic. “With Kenyatta, it’s been a really extensive training for the domestic violence clinic,” Modise said. “She’s really been helpful with getting to know the differences in the law in the two countries, Botswana and America, specifically the Ohio law in domestic violence.”

Modise became interested in domestic violence because it is a “pretty new concept in our country,” she said.

Modise will be at the college until December 10, before returning to Botswana where she will “try to share what I have (learned) with people back home,” she said, later noting that her nation has struggled to implement the concepts of domestic violence and legal aid through its judicial system. Working with Professors Mickles and Lockwood has been helping Modise to further her goals.

For Modise, a 2009 graduate of the University of Botswana’s five-year law program, law has not always been her sole focus. Until she opted to come to the United States, she played rugby. “I was actually the national team captain,” Modise said.

But while it has been “law and rugby” in the past, Modise says she will continue to focus on her law career when she returns to Botswana at the end of the year.

She is considering a return to the United States, hopefuly at the Georgetown University Law Center Domestic Violence Clinic for a master's degree in human rights. Of course, for the time being, Modise will continue to make the most of her opportunity to be in Cincinnati and at the College of Law.

“So far it’s been great,” she said.

By: Jordan Cohen, ‘13