On April 16, 2020, the implementation results of the monitoring 2.0 recommendations by the Legal Clinic of the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University were presented online. Valentina Maltseva, a laboratory assistant at the legal clinic, told how it really was, what she had to face, how everyone’s life changed after such cooperation, shared her experience, and showed by her example that persistence prevails over the fear of new and unknown.
Where did it all begin?
On 26-28 of February, the Legal Clinic of Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University opened its doors to the monitoring group. It was this step that became the driving force behind the changes that affected us. As a result of the monitoring, we saw our strengths – competent and effective legal advice for clients, and, unfortunately, our weakness – law education. It has become clear that in our time we can not do without good advertising, as many people as possible should learn about our free legal aid. We are not used to “bring up the rear” and immediately rushed to correct the situation, followed a specific plan of recommendations, and here is what happened…
Realization of the planned:
Step 1 (organizational aspect)
- We have developed an announcement about the activities of the legal clinic, taking into account the specialization in the field of consulting financial services consumers. Also, during the implementation, the legal clinic introduced a separate phone number to facilitate remote communication with her. Announcements were distributed among regional Free Legal Aid Centers, local authorities, partner public organizations; notes were posted on their online resources as well. Internet announcements about the activities of the legal clinic were placed on free local information resources, including social media pages on Facebook.
- Since the conditions for providing legal advice in the clinic allow us to accept 2 or more clients at the same time, we decided to increase the number of student counselors from 12 to 15. Currently, 3 new consultants are involved in the work of the legal clinic.
Step 2 (training and law education components)
- A system of regular studying was introduced for students-clinicians regarding the main activities of the legal clinic, in particular, was developed and implemented a plan for classes for consultants on the following topics:
- interactive methods and “Practical Law”;
- basics of customer interviewing;
- communication inside and outside the legal clinic;
- writing clear legal texts.
- Training on interactive methods and Practical Law was held with the development and testing of the lesson on the topic: “Medical reform in Ukraine”. Students had the opportunity to cover a topic relevant to all, not in the usual format for them, but in a completely new one, using various interactive methods, a variety of game techniques, in the form of presentations and videos.
- Nine clinical students participated in a re-training on mediation. Since our clinic has joined the project “Legal clinics – agents to promote mediation as a way to resolve disputes”, we decided to continue to improve in this direction. Realizing that this is close to our hearts, some of our student counselors have a good level of skills and character traits essential for a mediator to quickly and correctly resolve a dispute that will be mutually beneficial to each party.
- Ten consultants took part in the specialized training “Legal clinics’ consultations for consumers of financial services”. The acquired knowledge will be undeniably of much use for them to provide qualified legal assistance to our clients.
- Additional training in Practical Law was held, during which 2 classes were tested, on topics: “Will, contract of gift and contract of life maintenance – the content and difference” and “Marriage and family”.
In fact, we have carried out various types of law education work:
- Prepared an article – temporary employment of the unemployed (remote legal education event);
- Published a success story – the cancellation of a court order on debt collection of 26 thousand UAH;
- Conducted an online legal education event on the topic: “Marriage and Family” for students of Ivano-Frankivsk Academic Lyceum-Boarding School of Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Council (direct interaction with the audience through remote work means);
- Together with representatives of the public organization “Moloda Prosvita Prykarpattia” held an online screening and discussion of a documentary film about human rights “Roma Dream” for students of 8-A class of Chernivtsi Lyceum in Ivano-Frankivsk. Not all schools teach law subject in an interesting format. Therefore, we wanted to convey to pupils the problems of small national minorities on the basis of real people and real facts, to reach each of their hearts and encourage them to reach out.
Step 3 (consulting component)
- Updated the form of the consultation accounting journal.
- Introduced the practice of using a questionnaire of the citizens’ reception with the mandatory withdrawal of consent to the processing of personal data.
Challenges and surprises
The introduction of any innovations, atypical daily forms of work is always a risk. You cannot be 100% sure:
- Will you be able to cope with the tasks?
- How will clinical students react and will they be able to deal with a completely new nature of work?
- Will other organizations and schools agree to cooperate?
- Will it be really useful and informative for everyone, or possibly it is just a waste of time and energy for the whole team?
However, our fears were not in vain. In addition, due to the coronavirus, everyone was forced to take action and isolate themselves. Accordingly, there were no chances of any live communication. We thought that all our plans failed, but as we know, if a person wishes something, they will find a way out of any situation and began to act…
Achievements and fulfillment of expectations.
“Practice makes perfect”!
Finally, we started working not only in an unusual for us mode and direction but also in a completely new online format.
Modern technologies, the energetic spirit of clinicians have allowed us to unite all our strengths, ideas, experience, knowledge, and confidently implement planned actions step by step, no matter what. We realized that work is work and these extreme conditions not only did not prevent but also allowed us to reach as large an audience as possible. No one had to go anywhere spending precious time to participate in a fun, useful and rewarding activity.
Of course, live communication is most important, so we will not stop on current achievements and will continue to work effectively in the direction we have already begun. And as of now, we have a 100% result. We can definitely say that the formula for success lies in coordinated work, a good atmosphere in the team and dedication of each of us!
Valentina Maltseva, laboratory assistant at the Legal Clinic of Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University
The Project “Development of Regional Leaders and the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine Coordination Model Enforcement ” is being implemented by the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine with the financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.