For two days, foreign and national experts in the field of higher legal education discussed the challenges and innovations in the education of lawyers with a focus on the role of legal clinics in these processes.
On September 17-18, 2020, the autumn Forum of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine took place in Kyiv, filled with a lively exchange of ideas and innovative developments of legal clinics. The forum aimed to discuss methods of improving the practical skills of law students, optimization and automation of legal and educational processes, the development of trend thematic areas of educational programs for lawyers.
The theme of the Forum echoes the concept of legal education reform and the bachelor’s and master’s standards of higher education in the specialty “Law”, approved by the Ministry of Education and Science. That is why we dedicated the Autumn Forum of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine to the issues of modernization of legal education. After discussions, debates, expressions of positions, it is possible to come to the indisputable conclusion that the legal clinical movement in Ukraine is developing dynamically, has received recognition both at the national and international level. We meet all modern trends and are already creating our own. Therefore, we can safely call ourselves innovators of higher legal education, – emphasized the Head of the Board of the Association Julia Lomzhets.
Challenges for legal education
From educational philosophy to standards of higher legal education
“I congratulate the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine with a strong institutional growth because the network demonstrates a movement that, among other things, affects the process of modernization of legal education,” said the moderator of the Forum’s expert panel Larysa Denysenko.
The legal profession needs changes. This is confirmed by the dissatisfaction of employers with the quality of the formed skills and abilities of university graduates, the graduates themselves due to the uncertain position in the labor market and, finally, public distrust to the legal profession.
These problems can be solved only by a qualitative reform of higher legal education. The renewed process of licensing and further accreditation of educational programs will ensure progress towards the highest quality of education and trust in Ukrainian diplomas abroad. This was emphasized by the speakers of the first expert panel of the Forum – representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine Oleksandr Pyzhov and Andriy Boyko, as well as the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education Andriy Butenko.
Legal education & Legal clinics: balance of theory & practice
The head of the Association Yulia Lomzhets presented the results of the work of legal clinics in 2019 and noted that legal clinics are preparing a new generation of lawyers ready for the challenges of modern society.
“Our main goal today is to find the optimal balance of theory and practice in the training of lawyers. Practice-oriented approach is a central part of legal education standards and the success of such an approach will depend on the quality and diversity of practice. Monitoring of legal clinics has proved that a really working legal clinic is able to provide full-fledged practical training of a young lawyer. Having formed not only solid practical skills, but also skills of effective communication, critical thinking and self-presentation,” Yulia Lomzhets emphasized.
Representatives of the Association partner organizations were invited to this panel:
- Oleksandr Sydelnikov, National Rule of Law and Human Rights Project Manager, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine;
- Nina Reshetar, Rule of Law and Human Rights Project Assistant, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine;
- Artem Shaipov, Legal Advisor, USAID New Justice Program;
- Olga Halchenko, Coordinator of the Human Rights and Justice Program of the International Renaissance Foundation;
- Mykola Sioma, Director of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation.
Their speeches confirmed that education in legal clinics has been demonstrating its effectiveness for more than a decade, and the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine is a reliable partner for the implementation of innovative educational projects.
Johnny Hall, Professor of Law (University of Northumbria, UK) and Filip Czernicki, President of the Polish Network of Legal Clinics, President of GAJE (Global Alliance for Justice Education), shared and underlined the important role of legal education reform in foreign processes.
Student vs Employer. Modern portrait of graduate lawyer
What is he like, a law faculty graduate? How do employers and graduates look at them? What does a future lawyer lack to become valuable in the labor market? Aren’t employers demanding too much from young lawyers who are just starting their careers?
These and other questions were answered by law students:
- Oleg Musiy, consultant of the Legal clinic “Pro bono” of the National University of Ostroh Academy, ex-Coordinator of the North-Ukrainian region of the League of Students of the Ukrainian Bar Association, expert of the educational programs accreditation of the National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance (Ukraine) (NAHEQA);
- Maryna Lobko, Head of the League of Students of the All-Ukrainian NGO Ukrainian Bar Association, expert in educational programs accreditation of the NAHEQA, director of marketing & communication of the Project “Legal Education Reform” from the League of Students of the Ukrainian Bar Association;
and representatives of employers:
- Olena Myronenko-Shulgan, member of the Council of the Committee of Young Lawyers of the National Bar Association of Ukraine UNBA NextGen;
- Kateryna Kovalevska, attorney, managing partner at the “Kateryna Kovalevska Attorney Bureau”, Deputy Chairman of the Youth Committee of the Ukrainian National Bar Association – UNBA NextGen.
The discussion was conducted by members of the Board of the Association Tetyana Sholkova and Olga Nastina in the format of “World Cafe”. As a result of the discussion, a group of mandatory skills of a law graduate was formed.
Specialization in the activities of legal clinics: new areas of work and partnerships
The discussion on studying the experience and prospects of introducing specialization in the activities of legal clinics was initiated by a member of the Board of the Association Andrii Halaii.
Volodymyr Stadnik, Head of the Office for Social-Educational & Psychological Work with Convicts of the Division of Resocialization and Social Rehabilitation of the Department of Criminal Penalties Execution and Serhii Hrechaniuk, the Head of the Department of Criminal Penalties Execution of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine shared the successful experience of development & organization of the legal clinic for work in legal protection of the convict’s rights, as well as shared the modern perspectives of legal clinics work in the frame of quarantine restrictions and regulative peculiarities of penitentiary institutions.
The manager of the legal clinic of the School of Law of the Ukrainian Catholic University, member of the Board of the Association Khrystyna Kovtsun told about the secrets of the systematic work of the legal clinic and the successful experience of developing its own specialization in providing legal assistance to veterans & servicemen in terms of ongoing armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
While determining the potential of legal clinics in the implementation of anti-corruption specializations, Andrii Halaii, Head of the Strategic Analysis Department for NAPC Prevention of Corruption, noted:
“The specialized anti-corruption community is always open and ready to cooperate.”
Kateryna Datsko, Member of the Board of the Association, presented the results of the new, mastered by the Association specialization “Protection of the rights of consumers of financial services” in the USAID Financial Sector Transformation Project (FST).
“The potential of legal clinics in the modernization of legal education: foreign experience”
The international platform has established a quite clear upcoming steps of international cooperation of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine.
Platform moderator Maria Tsypiashchuk, member of the Board of the Association:
“This is not the first event when the Association involves colleagues from abroad. However, it is probably the first time that we have involved them in such a large number and in such a high-quality combination of topics and experience. For me personally, it was a great pleasure to work again with our old friends: Filip Chernicki, Delaine Swenson and Johnny Hall. And, of course, get to know closer Lee Abertman and his colleague Amy Wallace, invite Lia Worsome and James E. Moliterno to speak up.
Each and every one of these people are, in fact, key figures in the modern global legal clinic movement in the relevant field: the integration of the legal clinic into the educational process or the most functional use of Street Law. The highlight of the international platform was also the fact that we invited Ihor Konopka, who was able to compare Ukrainian and foreign experience in his concise and meaningful presentation.”
Innovations in legal education
The topic of the second day of the Forum was innovations in legal education in the context of digitalization, quarantine restrictions and modern requirements for the legal profession and law students themselves.
How to teach law students to write interesting things about law? 71% of lawyers do not know how to deliver information to the client in simple language. The secrets of Legal Writing were told by the editor of Loyer, the founder of the online course and Telegram-channel Legal Writing Yana Sobko, whose slogan is: “Write complex texts in simple language.”
Illia Filipov, CEO and co-founder of EdEra, enthusiastically spoke about creating effective online courses. Illia revealed the secrets of the mechanism for creating exclusive online courses:
- combine different formats of tasks and topics;
- adhere to the balance of complexity;
- use the effect of quick victories;
- clearly understand the target audience;
- format should be relevant to the topic and resources.
Distance learning and remote work, online living and counseling, social networking culture and remote work tools. The secrets of modern means of communication were revealed by Andrii Udovychenko from the Bot & Partners, Notion Pro.LLM, Cornell Law School (USA) and Mykyta Pidhainyi, CEO at Bot & Partners, legal engineer at Opendatabot.
At the end of the Forum, participants took part in a workshop “Key issues of legal ethics for teachers of legal clinics” by James E. Molinterno, Vincent Bradford Professor of Law, Washington & Lee University School of Law.
The Forum was conducted thank to the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development in the frame of grant provided by the USAID Financial Sector Transformation Project (FST).
Photo credit: Roman Shalamov