The Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine held a final press conference to present the results of the Project ‘Legal Clinic Consultations for Financial Services Consumers’, which had been implementing with the support of the USAID Financial Sector Transformation Project (FST).
From February to November, the Association implemented the Project ‘Legal Clinic Consultations for Financial Services Consumers’ with the support of the USAID Financial Sector Transformation Project (FST). The project contributed to the active involvement of the Association in deepening knowledge and legal protection of consumers of financial services. In particular, the project provided for the institutional development of the Association of Legal Clinics in Ukraine, legal education and counselling, as well as the expansion of regional representation of legal clinics.
During her speech, Financial Consumer Protection Advisor at the USAID Financial Sector Transformation Project (FST) Tetiana Burak commented:
“The goals and objectives we set for ALCU were to strengthen its institutional capacity and professionalism, which would further contribute to the support of legal clinics in all regions. During the project implementation, many different events, communication campaigns, modernization of the Association’s website and development of quality educational materials were carried out. ALCU has also successfully carried out a mission to establish a clinic in Sloviansk and strengthened the capacity of clinics in Kharkiv, Chernivtsi and Kyiv. I am very glad that even more students joined the activities of the clinics”.
Strengthening institutional capacity
Yuliia Lomzhets, the Head of the ALCU, spoke about the challenges faced by the Association during the project implementation, as well as about the strengthening of institutional capacity:
“One of the main tasks of the Association’s team is the institutionalization of the organization and its further institutional development. That is why a significant part of the project activities was aimed at further development of the network of legal clinics, development of its competence and communication potential. Their relevance is due to the need to strengthen the role of legal clinics as regional agents of human rights and education of consumers of financial services, and the Association – as their effective coordinator, a permanent partner of state and public institutions working in the field of financial services.”
In the direction of strengthening the institutional capacity of the project team performed a number of tasks:
- Professional development and development of network initiatives.
Due to the project implementation, the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine organized a number of events to improve the skills of managers and teachers of legal clinics.
- Organization of the International professional educational and scientific internship for students of law clinics on the topic “Responsible business and human rights”.
For the first time, the Association took up the topic of business and human rights, and chose an innovative format of the International Student Internship Competition. The internship consisted of two levels: national and international. At each level, students performed research (writing a legal essay) and practical (solving real legal cases, participating in workshops) tasks.
The National Stage of the competition was attended by 8 legal clinics of Ukraine, which prepared 9 essays on “Responsible Business and Human Rights”. In particular, 5 essays concerned business in the field of financial services and human rights:
- Development of business in the field of financial services to ensure the provision of free medical services to vulnerable groups;
- Protection of consumer rights of credit services;
- Guiding principles of credit and financial institutions in the aspect of human rights;
- Institute of Specialized Financial Ombudsman in Ukraine: the need and potential for implementation;
- Investment activity as a factor of realization and provision of human rights in Ukraine.
In addition to the three Ukrainian winning teams, three Polish teams and one Latvian team were selected for the final stage. During the final stage of the “UP” contest, the teams of legal clinics presented their legal positions.
- Development of specialization in the activities of legal clinics.
The implementation of the project helped to start the process of specialization in the activities of legal clinics. Holding forums, specialized trainings, School and Festival, organization of counseling and legal education has formed a group of clinics that can professionally protect the rights of consumers of financial services at a high level.
- Promotion of legal clinics among law students.
Interactive, cognitive and competitive events for students of law clinics are organized: Student internship “UP”, Competition in practical law, Trainings and competitions during the Street Law Festival, Financial Advisory Tournament. Students of law clinics gained experience of practical professional activity in the field of legal assistance to consumers of financial services and organization of public events to improve financial literacy of the population, which can be used in the future during consultations after the project.
- Strengthening the authority of the Association among partners and stakeholders.
The association has significantly increased its influence among legal education modernization organizations and free legal aid providers. Currently, representatives of the Association team:
- Joined the working group on the development of the rating of law schools of Ukraine, organized by the Ukrainian Bar Association with the support of the USAID New Justice Program;
- Participated in the working group to develop recommendations for monitoring the status of constitutional human rights and freedoms, in particular, the right to legal aid;
- Launched their own program “Interactive Education Street Law” within the Ukrainian School of Practical Knowledge on Access to Justice;
- Together with Polish colleagues continue to develop issues of process automation in legal clinics within the Kyiv Legal Empowerment Practical Program;
- Established systematic cooperation with the youth committee of the National Bar Association of Ukraine UNBA NextGen in the field of organizing joint events, expert support, student internships and internships.
Legal clinics achievements in the vector of counselling of financial services consumers
During the press conference, Maria Tsypiashchuk, a member of the Board of the Association and the head of the counselling component, presented its main results.
Legal assistance in the field of financial services was provided by legal clinics selected to participate in the counselling vector of the project:
- Legal laboratory of clinical education methods ‘Pro Bono’
- Legal clinic ‘Truth’ of the Dnipro State University of Internal Affairs
- Legal clinic ‘Femida’ of the Donetsk State University of Management
- Legal clinic of the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University
- Legal clinic of the Bohdan Khmelnytskyi National University of Cherkasy
- Legal clinic ‘Ad Astra’ of the Lesia Ukrainka East European National University
- Legal clinic of the State University of Economics and Technology
“The implementation of the counselling vector began with the development and conducting of training on the organization of counselling of consumers of financial services for two groups of representatives of legal clinics (students and managers). After the trainings, the clinics started the process of specialized counseling on the protection of the rights of consumers of financial services.”
During February-November 2020, legal clinics processed 83 applications, which were dominated by two categories of issues: loans and financial fraud, addressing the topics of payment transactions and insurance were noticeable too.
Regarding the nature of legal aid provided:
- legal consultation – in 60 cases;
- legal information – 22 cases;
- preparation of documents (procedural and non-judicial) – in 10 cases.
According to students and curators of legal clinics, participation in the project helped them to significantly improve not only knowledge in the field of consumer protection of financial services, but also to acquire practical skills in counselling, including remotely.
Maria also presented the Handbook “Counselling of Financial Services Consumers” that summarizes the results of the work of seven legal clinics involved in the implementation of the project counselling component.
The manual will help legal clinic consultants to communicate with clients professionally, both in person and remotely. The first section of it will also help the head of legal clinic to better understand why counselling in a legal clinic and how best to organize it. The publication contains summaries on the most common questions that arise in consumers of financial services and algorithms for working with them. Finally, to demonstrate that timely and necessary steps yield the desired results, the third section publishes the success stories of legal clinics in matters involving the financial sector.
Applying Street Law for improving financial literacy
Indicators of the direction of legal education were presented by its Head, member of the Board of ALCU Kateryna Datsko. So, the 10 legal clinics that professionally worked on increase of financial literacy of financial services consumers were referred to the direction of legal education:
- Legal clinic of the State University of Economics and Technology
- Legal clinic of the Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University
- Legal clinic ‘Protection and Justice’ of the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine
- Legal clinic of the Lviv State University of Internal Affairs
- Legal clinic “Law and Practice” of the Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University
- Legal clinic of the Uzhorod National University
- Legal clinic of the State Fiscal Service of UkraineLegal cli
- nic of the University of Customs and Finance
- Legal clinic of the Admiral Makarov National University of Shipbuilding
- Legal clinic ‘Femida’ of the Donetsk State University of Management
In total, legal clinics conducted 122 direct legal education activities. Topics of events that prevailed: own budget planning and financial literacy – 38 events; financial fraud – 26 measures; safe loans – 15 measures. Other classes were held on the topics of insurance, features of the banking system of Ukraine, current legislative changes in the financial sector, the rules of using bank cards.
“During the implementation of the legal education vector, legal clinics developed scenarios of legal education classes, graphic legal education materials (posters, infographics), educational videos that were used for direct legal education of the population (interactive lessons, webinars, trainings, presentations, seminars). Due to quarantine restrictions, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of activities have been transferred online using the Zoom platform.”
In turn, Kateryna also presented a Handbook for practical law classes “Street law: Consumer protection in the field of financial services”, which was the result of legal clinics work. The publication will help improve the quality and efficiency of legal education through the development of skills in the use of interactive methods of teaching law, in particular the methods of Street Law
The materials included in the publication were tested during the first in Ukraine innovative Festival of Practical Law “Fin $kills”, dedicated to the protection of consumers of financial services and financial literacy, held by the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine in July 2020.
Major indicators of the Association media activity
Media activity indicators achieved as a result of the project implementation were presented by the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine Olena Sabo.
One of the main tasks within the project was the modernization of the Association web-site – legalclinics.in.ua:
During the implementation of project, information on its development and results were published on the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine web-site (https://legalclinics.in.ua/), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AssociationLegalClinicsUkraine) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/as.lc.ukraine/), as well as on the information resources of the Ukrainian legal clinics, universities, and resources of Association infopartners. Presently, the 1395 media mentions indicated.
Implementation of activity and organization of work of the legal clinic at the deoccupied territory of Ukraine for strengthening financial literacy among inhabitants
A separate task of the project was to expand the regional office of legal clinics – Project “Implementation and organization of the legal clinic in the occupied territory of Ukraine in order to strengthen the financial literacy of the population.” The new legal clinic was created on the basis of the Slavic Educational and Scientific Institute of the University of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine
During the implementation of the project on the basis of the legal clinic an interactive mobile office was created, which carries out regular trips to the gray and red zones of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in order to conduct legal work and provide legal advice.
Its major achievements were presented by head of the legal clinic Dmytro Lazarenko.
The event took place thank to support of the U.S. Agency for International Development in the frame of grant provided by the USAID Financial Sector Transformation Project (FST).