The 7th ENCLE & IJCLE Conference was strongly devoted to a question of service quality provided by legal clinics and the need of its standardization and assessment. It was mutually recognized that the experience of Ukrainian legal clinical community inspired the process of drafting the standards within the Erasmus+ STARS project as the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine (ALCU) adopted its Standards of legal clinics operations back in 2014. And it went even further, for in 2017 the Instrument for assessing conformity with the Standards was drafted, piloted and finally approved.
Since then 13 legal clinics have been assessed and 6 of them showed basic level, while 7 meet the Standards. About this and much more Ukrainian delegation which was represented by three Association Board members – Andrii Halai, Yuliia Lomzhets, Mariia Tsypiashchuk and USAID “New Justice” Program legal counselor Ashot Agaiian, was reporting during July 3-5, 2019 at Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia. Legal clinicians and people related to the quality of professional legal education from over 20 countries got together to discuss this conference topic: “Improving the Future: using Clinical Legal Education to educate Lawyers for a Just Society”.
Workshops, lectures, separate and joint panel discussions, case study, and even meditation sessions for developing mindfulness – all this was a part of Conference agenda.
So, first day started with optional workshops on analyzing the draft version of the European Best Practices Standards, as well as parallel presentations related to different aspects of the future lawyers’ education. As mentioned above, Ukrainian experience was recalled many times as an example of effective standardization process. Actually, the Instrument for Assessing the Operations of Legal Clinics and its practical implementations were presented at the panel discussion “Innovative Tools for Legal Clinical Education’s Quality Assessment” during the second Conference day.
Presentations can be downloaded by the links:
Many more presentations were available and Ukrainian participants attended most of them. “It was exceptionally interesting to learn about the development of the activities of legal clinics in different countries: legal education in Ireland, training course in Hungary, introduction of standards of activity in Australia” – says Yuliia Lomzhets, the ALCU Executive Director.
Participants had plethora of time to interchange valuable ideas and think over the future joint projects. Head of the Association Board Andrii Halai is convinced: “We are now actively working on promoting international cooperation between Ukrainian legal clinical society and legal clinics from other countries, as well as the ENCLE itself. Due to efforts of the past few years we have a good potential to be quite interesting for the foreign partners”. It was especially pleasant to see colleagues from Poland who participated in a First Cross-Border School of Professional Skills for Legal Clinics Academics, which took place at the University of Warsaw during June 17 to 19.
As academic freedom and educational mobility are growing extensively – questions of uniformity and similar interpreting of basic terms, as well as the goals of legal clinic and its most effective format of operation are becoming even more topical. This process also predeterminates the tendencies of clinical legal education:
- acknowledgment of the fact that legal clinics must be an integral part of legal professional education;
- legal clinics tend to work with a real client. At the same time – there are still LCs of different types (litigation, mediation, Street Law clinics) and the LCs who only practice case study and simulation – so these various legal clinics demand various Standards and regulations, as well as ethical rules of operation;
- there has to be a clear balance of understanding and following the educational goal of legal clinic what leads to the dilemma of obligations for a client v. obligation for a student.
In overall, the whole Conference was a great thing as its organizing Committee put a lot of efforts to make the event satisfying and meaningful. A special charm of ancient but so welcoming Bratislava, amusing atmosphere during the Conference dinner and such a number of like-minded people left a long-term feeling of true involvement and inspiration.
We do hope this inspiration will move us forward and strengthen the role of legal clinics in Ukraine and worldwide.
Participation of Ukrainian delegation in the 7th ENCLE & IJCLE Conference became possible due to the support of the USAID “New Justice” Program, as well as the development of the Instrument for Assessing the Operations of Legal Clinics. Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine also expresses a special gratitude to American professor Ms. Leah Wortham who contributed a great expertise and help for drafting the Instrument.
*Main photo is taken from the official ENCLE website