From Idea to Ambitious Initiatives: Results of a Regional Project

The legal clinics of the Capital region have joined efforts to introduce innovative and effective legal education topics for various target audiences on current legal topics. All of them jointly implemented the regional project “Strengthening Regional and Cross-Sectoral Cooperation of Legal Clinics of Kyiv Region”, and the autonomous initiative “Innovative Teaching Methods in Law Education Activities of Legal Clinics for Secondary School Students”.

Olga Nastina, project manager and curator of the “Law and Practice” Legal Clinic, told the Association of Legal Clinics about the idea of ​​such an initiative, stages of implementation, and the benefits of the regional project for legal clinics, student youth and the legal clinical movement.

The idea of ​​the project “Strengthening Regional and Cross-Sectoral Cooperation of Legal Clinics of Kyiv Region” did not appear out of nowhere. In 2018, the Legal Clinic “Law and Practice” of Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University was successfully monitored by experts of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine, and we were able to “assess” our own potential, see our strengths and weaknesses: the first was that we lacked experience in the internal work organization with new and modern approaches, the strengths for us were in the established communication with partners in communities. So, we decided to take advantage of this!

Working for over 17 years with students in the legal clinic at Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University, I am familiar with all stages of formation, the history of the legal clinical development, achievements, successes and challenges that still remain relevant for most legal clinics. Therefore, the announcement of the competition of initiatives from ALCU was perceived by the clinicians of our legal clinic “Law and Practice” as a call to action, because the International Renaissance Foundation always supports the search for innovative, new and modern solutions to combine theory and practice in developing the legal capacity of Ukrainians and legal young people in particular.

We decide to take a chance of bringing our old dream to life:

  • introduce networking of legal clinics in the way of visits for exchange of experience,
  • to study the best practices of legal clinics work,
  • share our own successful cases.

Students have long noticed that working in a law clinic, we communicate little with colleagues from other universities, each clinic stuck in its environment and may make mistakes that others have already learned, or on the contrary when there is something to share, but communication between clinicians of different clinics is almost absent.

The experience of Bila Tserkva Legal Clinic in building cooperation with partners in the city is unique, and therefore we had something to tell others. In fact, that’s how it turned out – we became the winners of the competition, and the ambitious idea to develop a “Legal clinics` stakeholders map” for a wide range of clinicians, partners and colleagues is now embodied in the project results.

It was gratifying that we were joined by such leading legal clinics of the central region as Educational and Practical Laboratory “Legal Clinic” of the University of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine – they became the main co-executors of the project. Also joined the project activities:

  • “Educational legal consultation” of the Academy of Advocacy of Ukraine,
  • Law Clinic “Astrya” of the Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University,
  • Legal Clinic “Protection and Justice” of the National University of Bioresources and Natural resources of Ukraine,
  • Legal Clinic “Adiutorium” of the Chernihiv National University of Technology.

Therefore, all products of the project are joint collective work. It is very honourable and significant for us that our ideas have united so many like-minded people.

The first network event, “Workshop of Legal Clinics of Kyiv Region: Establishing Intersectoral Cooperation” at the PRAVOKATOR Law Club in Kyiv, turned out to be extremely powerful. The workshop allowed clinicians to make new friends, discuss the development of the legal clinical movement, present their own clinic, as well as talk with practicing lawyers, human rights activists of well-known public organizations of Kyiv region, experts and specialists of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Legal Aid Coordination Centre, Legal Development Network, Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation and the Association of Public Advisers of Ukraine. It was there that the development of the Legal clinics` stakeholders map began – a practical tool for building sustainable cooperation between legal clinics and partners on the ground. The developed material is the basis of the booklet “Maps”, which is the result of the collective work of students, partners and stakeholders. And we are proud of that.

Other project activities were no less useful and unifying, namely:

  • Experience exchange visits to partner legal clinics,
  • education for schoolchildren and students on the principle of equality,
  • practical trainings with a psychologist,
  • developing your own Stakeholder Map,
  • creation of a “Clinician’s Guide to Working with complicated clients”.

I would like to separately recall the visits of student consultants and teachers to the legal clinics of the University of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine and the Academy of Advocacy of Ukraine. These meetings provided an opportunity to share experiences and unite clinicians. Colleagues “inspired” us to review the internal procedures in the clinic, gave a vision of new approaches to building interaction between clinicians and clients, the introduction of online consultation, registration of clients in electronic journals, remote formation and archiving of clients’ cases.

In my opinion, it is network projects that provide an opportunity to reveal the high potential and creativity of student youth, to develop their creative and professional abilities. Joint activities for students with mentors and partners, when they sit side by side at the same table with legal professionals and strategize together, discuss the content of the future booklet or methodological development – strengthen the creative potential of clinicians, give faith in themselves and their abilities, motivate self-improvement and self-development, and that, most importantly, educate true law-conscious young people.

I am sure that we have managed to start a network of legal clinics, unite partners and stakeholders, and get new ideas that are sure to be translated into the next interesting and no less ambitious initiatives.

 

So dream, because dreams come true!

Author:

Olga Nastina, Project Manager “Strengthening Regional and Cross-Sectoral Cooperation of Legal Clinics of Kyiv Region”

 

The project “Development of regional leadership and establishing a model of coordination of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine” conducted by the Association of the Legal Clinics of Ukraine with the financial support of the International Renaissance Foundation.

From Idea to Ambitious Initiatives: Results of a Regional Project
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