FLA Providers unite on the information platform “Legal Space”

FLA Providers unite on the  information platform “Legal Space”

On July 9, 2019, representatives of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine took part in the Second working meeting of FLA Stakeholders on Strategic Development of the Information and Analytical Portal ‘Legal Space’. The event is part of the process of reconciling the concept of restarting the already known information platform – the portal “Legal space”.

This resource was mainly aimed at individuals who directly needed legal information or advice. The idea now is to reorient its target audience on the legal aid providers and create a single information and analytical platform for all FLA providers and stakeholders in Ukraine.

It will not only give possibility for each provider to be high-quality and accessible in the information space, but it will also become a source of a stable expert exchange and, what is most importantly, will help to increase access to justice in Ukraine and abroad.

It will be much easier to understand for citizens who need legal aid where and how they will be able to get a legal assistance they need, since the portal contains clear and comprehensive information about the specialization of a legal aid provider, his contacts and so on.

The meeting was started by Natalia Bimbirayte, director of the IRC “Legal space”, who talked about the concept of reforming the portal, the main directions and expected format of its functioning, as well as the results of the first working meeting that took place several weeks earlier.

With the help of the facilitator Ruslan Baktiyev, the participants of the event, within three hours worked in groups and in joint discussions on what content of the portal could be useful and necessary for the target groups of this source, and also considered portal navigation issues and other related issues.

Moreover, except ALCU, representatives of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, the Legal Development Network, the Association of Women’s Lawyers of Ukraine “JurFem”, the NGO “Legal Hundred”, the Center for Human Rights “Change”, the Human Rights Directorate of access to justice and legal awareness and, of course, the Legal Information Resource Center “Legal Space” presented. Also at the meeting was Olga Galchenko, Coordinator of the Human Rights and Justice Program of the International Renaissance Foundation, supported by the project as a whole.

We hope that this necessary and meaningful initiative will be implemented in the near future and the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine is extremely pleased to be part of this process.

Photo credit: Natalia Bimbirayte, Maria Tsypiashchuk

Andrii Halai | Inspirations of the First Cross-border School in Warsaw

Andrii Halai | Inspirations of the First Cross-border School in Warsaw

From previous blogs of Kateryna Datsko and Yulia Khmaruk, you have already knew a little about the First Cross-border School of Professional Skills for Academics of Legal Clinics. However, this time, we decided to try a new blog format – an interview. And the Head of the Board of the Association Andriy Halai agreed to be the first hero of our experimental format.

Anna Myroniuk: One of the elements of the School program was educational excursions to Warsaw’s legal clinics. From the blogs of the School participants, I had the impression that the Polish LC has such model of functioning that resembles small law firms at the university (they have a position of secretary, who records for the consultation, some of them specializes in specific branches of law, students work as assistants of the head of the legal clinic etc). In your opinion, such model is an improved version of our clinics, and we can capture the experience of Polish colleagues? Or there any specificity in the Ukrainian clinical movement, and we should follow our own development vector?

Andrii Halai: Look: even the features you mentioned are not universal, they can both coincide and differ in both the Western and Ukrainian legal clinics. In my legal clinics, for example, I have always tried to build a “law firm”, despite the lack of staff.

In my opinion, there may be many ways of organizing of legal clinics. The model of the law firm, the model of the legal clinic of Professor N, the model of the training course are only a few admissible approaches on the basis of an organizational method. And there are classifications by type (directions of activity), forms of interaction between participants of the legal clinic and with external partners, etc.

Therefore, in conditions of self-government of higher education institutions and independent choice of organizational model, legal clinics in Ukraine are free in how to build their work. With the obligatory observance of the organizational principles defined in the Standards of the Association. It is hard to list in one sentence, I will risk to mention the main one – the presence of a learning component: the training of law students in the practice of professional activity, which is provided / coordinated by competent academics.

А.М.: Comparing the work of the clinics of our more experienced Polish colleagues, what are the main problems of Ukrainian LCs you would highlight, and what are the solutions to them?

А.H.: First of all about the experience. Ukrainian as well as Polish legal clinics started approximately at the same time – in the mid-late 1990’s. Both countries have more ancient twenty years periods, as well as more younger organizations. Therefore, we are peers at the current stage of development.

I will not mention here that both networks had legal clinics at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (this is evidenced by publications, unfortunately not specific enough).

I only mention that, starting at the same time, in my opinion, the Polish network has achieved better results. The thesis that the legal clinic is a university unit and it should be in a curriculum – most of Polish legal clinics (but not all of them) already have not to prove to head of university. In Ukraine, this is less recognized. Why – I’ll say paradoxical and seems not related to the issue thins – but because of the lack of transparency in the organization of education in average Ukrainian universities and their lack of focus on the right goals: competent graduates, ready to practice. But the reform of legal education in Ukraine comes from both top (in the relevant ministries) and at the grassroots level of higher education institutions – therefore, actively promoting the role of legal clinics, we will eventually reach the right legal clinics in Ukraine.

Returning to your question – there are a lot of problems. Among them, not only those that depend on the head of higher education institutions. The group of issues, which allows to be a high-quality legal clinic, is at the level of heads of the legal clinics, its university and on the national level.

А.М.: The legal clinic is more about studying (it is a kind of opportunity for the student to learn all the nuances and subtleties of practice, so to speak “on the draft”) or about the quality of providing services to the client (the main thing is to provide the client with the most effective consultation / service, and the student is not allowed to make a mistake). And how does it work in Poland?

А.H.: Here, in my opinion, Ukrainian and Polish vision of legal clinics may differ: since the Ukrainian system of free legal aid guaranteed by the state is more developed in comparison with Poland (I will not say that it is better from the standpoint of methodology, but this is a difficult issue of professional discussion). In the dry balance Ukrainian legal clinics can afford less to be focused on social objectives of providing legal services to clients and focus on the educational goal.

From myself I will add – only that the educational target for legal clinics is a bit boring. Therefore, it is possible and necessary to look for ways of new forms of participation in social processes. I hinted at several key phrases that could be embodied in the modern work of the legal clinics freed from the burden of the “grandmother’s client conveyor” – the center of innovation, the model of participation in local government and national legal reforms.

And in order to avoid mistakes (we must understand that nobody works without mistakes), it is necessary to carefully build control and mentoring mechanisms.

А.М.: The participants, according to the School program, prepared their own projects. What project or its idea seemed to you the most interesting and potentially effective? Or perhaps, if you were participant, would you be interested in some kind of completely different topic that seems to you more relevant?

А.H.: The idea of ​​preparing these projects is an important component of the quality of this cross-border school. Therefore, it is important for me to evaluate not what these ideas of the participants of the School are directed to, but how they are relevant to the society (involved participants) and innovative, based on previous experience and objective planning (this shows the ability to perform them qualitatively), as well as how well they can combine the activities of several legal clinics at a time.

The last position is extremely important. For some reason, in Ukraine (frankly speaking, not only there), legal clinics collaborate not enough with each other. That precludes their development and weakens in defending their own needs. Therefore, support for regional cooperation projects should strengthen Ukrainian legal clinics, remove them from the object to the active subject if cooperation. For me, this is one of the key tasks that the Association should do (and as you can see, actively). The development of regional co-operation and leadership will enable the Association to be an equal and inclusive working organization.

And several interesting projects were offered. Soon their finalized versions will be considered for financial and mentor support from the Association. We are working on this with donor organizations.

For the heads of legal clinics I will give two advice:

  • No pain, no gain
  • Follow announces and do not twiddle your thumbs.

А.М.: Has the communication with employees of Warsaw’s legal clinics inspired any changes in our clinical movement?

А.H.: The Polish network is one of the best in the world and we are lucky to have such neighbors. I have been trying to keep up to date with their news and ideas (all by the way “serdecznie zapraszam”) for 5 years. Some of them are more or less suitable for implementation in Ukraine, as well as some of the Ukrainian initiatives of the legal clinic movement are studied and implemented by Polish colleagues. So this is a mutual interest and mutual exchange.

What is the agenda for our cooperation? This is a transition from projects involving a foreign party to joint projects. The first was the Cross-border School.

To be continued, at least we have some ideas that will be discussed when they become plans.

Interview was prepared by Аnna Мyroniuk

Yulia Khmaruk: “… after participating in the school, legal clinics should change their status quo from participants of programs and events – to organizers and equal partners of law-education movement”

Yulia Khmaruk: “… after participating in the school, legal clinics should change their status quo from participants of programs and events – to organizers and equal partners of law-education movement”

On June 17-19 the First Cross-boarder School of Professional Skills for Academics of Legal Clinics took place in Warsaw, where I was very pleased to be a participant.

The main goal, the idea of ​​the school was the development of regional leadership of legal clinics. In brief: after attending school, legal clinics should change their status quo from participants of programs and events which are helded at the regional level to organizers and equal partners in law-education movement.

The Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine, which organized the event, came up to the task comprehensively, and therefore the knowledge gained during the school, allowed to form not a general idea about ​​the “subject, types, goals and tasks” of the clinic activities, but could instill the resolve and confidence that the goal will be achieved in each participant. After all, we have learned about specific practical tools that can be used in certain situations.

The work was held within 3 blocks.

I. Introduction to the work of legal clinics in Poland.

In general, it can be said that the situation is the same as in Ukraine – varies depending on the clinic.

In particular, we learned that:

☑ Clinics in larger universities have a division into sections by branch of law. At the University of Warsaw they are 12

☑ LC of University of Warsaw resolves the largest number of cases per year – about 1,000. It is said that the number of cases has declined significantly since the introduction of the system of free legal aid

☑ Staff: Warsaw University has a separate post of secretary, who carries out a preliminary record for consultation. At Lazarus University, an assistant is also employed along with the head – a student who is exempted from tuition fees because of work in the clinic

☑ At the University of Social and Human Sciences, university graduates volunteer in a clinic, they already work, but they help by checking counseling and assisting in interviewing and counseling clients

☑ Material support – always a separate issue. However, the room for client counseling is must-have

☑ After visiting the Lazarus University, It was wanted to renew the Practice of Custody Lawyer (counseling for people in detention). It is good needed practice. And the main thing – the consultants feel grateful (there are pictures drawn by the customers as a gratitude for the help on the photo below).

☑ A particular metal bookcase for storing cases is a mandatory requirement.

☑ All LC of Poland has contracted third party liability insurance contracts for poorly provided legal aid

II. Moreover we talked about motivation and establishing mutually beneficial cooperation with partners – it is very important to understand all available “levers of influence” (in the good sense of these words) and the benefits that you can offer your partner, as well as ways to resolve conflicts (it turns out, sometimes it is useful to even ignore the conflict )

ІІІ. ІІІ The participants developed projects for cooperation of legal clinics for participation in the school, they were presented during the school. Therefore, in the near future, it is to be expected that the Ukrainian community of legal clinics will shake up, the information space with interesting and socially useful initiatives!

The material was prepared by Yulia Khmaruk

Our Strength is in Cooperation!

Our Strength is in Cooperation!

Warsaw hosted the representatives of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine, who initiated and organized the First Cross-border School of Professional Skills for Academics of legal clinics during three days.

The internship was based on the exchange of Ukrainian and Polish experience in the operation and management of the legal clinics network of Poland and Ukraine. The experience of Polish colleagues is impressive, because they succeeded to create a brand of Legal Clinics, which harmoniously fit into the structure of high schools, which train future lawyers.

What are the leaders of the legal clinical movement discussing?

An interesting experience of the work of the best legal clinic of Poland (University of Warsaw), which was presented gracefully by its head Dr. Katarzyna Julia Kowalska, inspired for searching of new ideas and ways to implement them.

Thanks to the representatives of the Polish network of legal clinics, the participants determined that legal clinics occupy a significant place in the system of legal protection and higher legal education in Poland. Interestingly, all legal clinics in Poland have a rating that they publish in the mass media. During three days we have been able to see the practices of the three best law clinics in Warsaw.

A significant emphasis was put on management of the LC, because the manager should be able to find a partnership, develop a strategy and resolve conflicts in the process. Thanks to the experience shared by Delaine Swenson (Poland) and the practical case studies provided by the members of the Association of Ukrainian Legal Clinics, Andrii Halai, Mariia Tsypiashchuk and Julia Lomzhets, we succeed to systematize knowledge and practical experience and find more effective ways to solve problems, which arise during the work of the head of the LC.

The practical training block envisaged the development and presentation of a project of regional development of the network of legal clinics in Ukraine. In this part it was wanted to do everything at once, because it was want to do so much for the development of students and staff of the Legal Clinic at the regional level. Experienced mentors have helped optimize ideas into an effective project that will work for the development of a regional network.

The project which was presented was directed on the legal education of the youth, because the experience of working with high school students in Krivyi Rih during the year showed that young people know but do not understand human rights. It is suggested to unite the legal clinics of the region precisely around solving this problem.

Polish experience proves:

  1. Legal clinics are a basic and effective tool for developing law enforcement skills for future lawyers.
  2. Project activity is an important component of the development of high schools and Legal Clinics in particular, but this should be learned by changing the minds of participants in the educational process.
  3. Our strength is in unification – it is impossible to build a progressive network without cooperation and unification of the efforts of its active and progressive representatives.

“New knowledge, interesting acquaintances and changing of environment always inspire for progress. However, when you understand that the whole team is interested in building effective cooperation and is keen on developing your Legal Clinic, it is already a responsibility!”

The material was prepared by Kateryna Datsko, translated by Anna Myroniuk