Mekelle University School of Law Legal Aid Center (formerly known as the Mekelle University Law Faculty Legal Aid Center: MULF-LAC) is a non-for profit and non-partisan institution established under the auspice of Mekelle University to provide free legal service to the indigent and vulnerable members of the community. The Center was established in 2004 through the financial assistance of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI-Hungary). The center started to operate in the same year with the financial support of the Action Aid Ethiopia-Northern Region Office (AAE-NRO). The Center expanded its function by establishing a separate center called Prisoners Right Clinic (PRC), in 2007. The establishment and operational costs of the PRC was again covered by AAE-NRO. The AAE-NRO continued to cover the operational costs of the legal aid center and the PRC until December 2009. Currently, there are four branch centers and one Head office.
Mekelle University Legal Aid Center is a pioneer Center of its kind which was established in 2004 to provide free legal aid service to indigent and vulnerable members of the community in the National Regional State of Tigray. During its establishment, the region, which had more than 3 million populations, was a home to not more than 10 licensed lawyers. More so, courts were overloaded by cases which used to take them more than a year to settle on. What is more acute is that the community can’t afford payments that were requested by the lawyers. Taking in to account the above mentioned problems, Mekelle University took a stand to provide free legal service to the community and established its Legal Aid Center.
In the beginning, the service was limited to Mekelle city only. But later on, the University together with Action Aid Ethiopia-North Branch launched a new Center in Mekelle Prison Center which is located some 5 kilo meters from the city of Mekelle. The expansion of the centers to the Prison center and its surrounding couldn’t solve the problem of access to justice in Tigray region. Finally, the Legal Aid Center managed to open four new centers in Mekelle, Axum, Maichew and Adigrat and enhance its old centers which are located in Mekelle through the financial support of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Through the expansion programme, many members of the indigent and vulnerable community have got free legal service.