On November the 28th, 2018, an expert discussion of the legal clinics monitoring surveys results took place. The meeting was held on the basis of the National University “Kyiv Mohyla Academy” educational laboratory “Legal Clinic of the Faculty of Law”. The series of these monitoring surveys were conducted by the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine (ALCU) in 12 legal clinics from different regions of Ukraine, supported by the International Renaissance Foundation, the Ukrainian Foundation for Legal Aid and the USAID New Justice Program.
The idea of such monitoring services was initiated by ALCU itself, and it is a lucid continuation of the long process aimed at legal clinics services quality improvement.
During the meeting, Andrii Halai, the ALCU Board member, submitted that in 2014, at the Association Congress, which also took place in NUKMA, the educational legal community approved the Standards of Activity of the Legal Clinics of Ukraine – the minimum requirements – criteria of LC qualitative functioning.
Gradually an understanding that the implementation of the Standards requires an objective assessment had been formed and that is why, in 2017, Instrument for Assessing the Standard Practice of Legal Clinics in Ukraine was adopted. The Instrument proved its practical effectiveness immediately during its piloting in June 2017 on the basis of the “Ad Astra” Legal Clinic of Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University. And, during 2018, 11 legal clinics in different regions of Ukraine experienced the benefits of such monitoring surveys.
The representatives of the monitored legal clinics also communicated their opinions: they told about some significant changes that took place during the preparation for the monitoring (being provided with equipment, accommodation, arranging documentation and general organization of work), and following the monitoring (establishing financial motivation or the LC tutor (head), improvement of the consultations and law-educational events accounting, introduction of new forms for such events, etc.).
An analytical review of the monitoring results can be found here.
Ivan Shemelynets head of the Legal Education Expert Group of the of Ministry of Justice of Ukraine Human Rights, Access to Justice and Law Awareness Directorate, who also took part in one of the monitoring – joined the meeting. Mr. Ivan stated: Recently, the issues of legal educational development in Ukraine were actualized as a separate direction of activity of the Ministry of Justice and, particularly, the Directorate of Human Rights, Access to Justice and Law Awareness. One of the main problems that occurred during the monitoring process was the motivation of legal clinics employees. A person cannot do the good-quality job for a long time, if he or she does not have an organizational and financial support. Thus the reviewing of the financing system of legal clinics and the payment for people who work there – is necessary. Legal clinic as an element of internal quality assurance system in universities – this is the main thesis, which should become a part of the development of higher legal educational concept.
The representatives of the Association’s constant partners also attended the event: Mykola Sioma – Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation, Ashot Ahaian – USAID New Justice Program, Nataliia Stupnytska and Mariia Bilak – OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.
Besides discussing the monitoring results, Mariia Tsypiashchuk, a communication development manager of the Association, described major achievements of the ALCU Communication Strategy implementation. This strategy is built around three key branches:
1) strengthening of the ALCU external representation, including communication with its partners. The content of the site has been fundamentally updated in this area, and its visualization has been optimized, news of the Association is constantly published on the Facebook page. Also, a portfolio of contact managers of the Association’s communication partners was formed, banners of the constant partners were displayed on the main page of the site, information about them updated and the opportunity to post their news was provided.
2) the establishment of an effective information exchange between the Association Board and legal clinics. To maintain this internal communication channel a Google-group (mailing list) and a private group in Facebook for the representatives of the administrative staff of the LC were created.
3) the implementation of tools for the effective exchange of experience and the illustration of their activities of legal clinics by themselves. In addition to these resources, personal accounts for each legal clinic were created on the Association’s website which makes it possible to publish their own news and consultations. To facilitate the work with these tools, a detailed step-by-step Manual is developed.
Several participants of the meeting, representatives of the monitored legal clinics, also shared their opinions on the event and the monitoring surveys:
Yulia Matveieva, a member of the Association Board of Legal Clinics of Ukraine, Head of the Laboratory “Legal Clinic” of the National University “Kyiv Mohyla Academy”, states that: The existence of legal clinics is very important for the education of future lawyers, because students acquire some practical professional skills here by providing free legal aid to socially vulnerable groups of the population, as well as law-educational activities. And because of the high level of responsibility that lies on the LC`s work in terms of quality of legal services, the provision of ethical principles of professional legal ethics, etc., such activities must be controlled and coordinated. Especially the elements of certain requirements that relate to general administrating, material and technical provision, the quality of legal services, legal education, the provision of educational process, the possibility of organizing and conducting practices based on the UC, etc. and provide the ALCU Standards. It is important that the representatives of the legal clinical movement of Ukraine have reached such a level of development, when they independently initiated the adoption of these requirements to adhere to them and thus take care of their quality.
Olena Zabrodina, Director of the Legal Clinic of the Olesya Goncharovka Dniprovsky National University: Monitoring survey of the UC allowed identifying systemic problems in the organization of the UC, for example – the location of clinics in the structure of universities, as well as issues in the activities of the LC itself. Unfortunately, systemic problems are not being solved by the leaders of most LC clinics, and the help in the form of appeals is need from the Association to the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Justice. Regarding the internal issues of the ДC, monitoring helped to identify shortcomings and work on their elimination. During the expert discussion on November the 27th, 2018, most of the leaders of the LC informed about the progress of work on the mistakes in the clinics subordinated to them.
To Irina Kalinina`s opinion (the head of the Law Faculty of the “Themis” of the Donetsk State University of Management), meetings in such a format help to establish and expand cooperation both between individual legal clinics and the Association of Ukrainian Legal Clinics, which allows to resolve more urgent problems in the issue of the legal clinical movement development.
Kateryna Datsko, dean of the Faculty of Law, the Head of the Legal Clinic of the Kryvyi Rih Economic Institute of the Kyiv National Economic University named after Vadym Hetman, believes that the event has become a good platform for discussing the results of the monitoring carried out in order to increase the effectiveness of LC and the development of communication between them. Such measures promote the development of the Association as a network, help to identify common problems, interests and get motivation for further work.”
Iryna Romaniuk, the head of Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University legal clinic, is convinced that: Monitoring survey is a practical guideline for strategic planning of the legal clinic and ALCU in general. An expert discussion of the results is an excellent opportunity to gain new knowledge about the best practices of legal clinics, to develop systemic solutions to strengthen the “weak” sides of the LCs, to stimulate communication between them.
We are glad that the event was interesting and useful and soon the Association will gather togather more law clinics at the Association’s Congress 2018.
Written by: Julia Matvieieva, Mariia Tsypiashchuk
Photo: National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Ukrainian Foundation for Legal Aid
Translated by from Ukrainian: Mariana Dyshko, Mariia Tsypiashchuk