The Association of Legal Clinics (ALC) presented the Legal Clinical Education in Ukraine textbook at its annual forum on March 19th. The textbook was developed by 17 co-authors with support from the USAID New Justice Program jointly with the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.
The Association of Legal Clinics is a non-governmental organization that aims to develop legal clinical education and build the network of legal clinics in Ukraine. ALC’s goal is to improve the quality of legal education by providing free legal aid and raising the level of legal culture of Ukrainian society. Currently, ALC unites 60 legal clinics.
In recent years, legal clinical education developed on a phased basis from total skepticism and disbelief in its feasibility to the introduction of related subjects in numerous law schools.
The textbook consists of three sections. The first is devoted to the legal clinical education basics, including its history, development, notions, objectives, tasks, social role, types and forms of such education, and institutional fundamentals of legal clinic operations. The second covers the basic ethical and psychological fundamentals of legal clinical education. The third highlights major methodologies whereby a legal clinic provides legal aid and advice.
The Legal Clinical Education in Ukraine textbook will help law school students and young legal professionals gain knowledge and develop practical skills to practice law, specifically, to execute procedural documents, advise clients, represent clients’ interests before courts, government authorities, local governments, etc.
“From my own experience, I am well aware of the importance of clinical education. As a student, I also underwent a clinical course at a law school. Unfortunately, not all Ukrainian law school students develop adequate practical skills needed for further work. This is quite a problem because these are legal professionals – judges, prosecutors, attorneys – who play a critical role in asserting the rule of law, as one of the key principles of the Ukrainian Constitution”, pointed out David Vaughn, the USAID New Justice Program Chief of Party, at the beginning of the presentation.
A panel discussion, which was held as part of the presentation, focused on strengthening a practical legal education component. Volodymyr Sushchenko, the textbook editor, Mykola Udod, one of the founders of the Ukrainian legal clinical movement, and Julia Lomzhets, Head of the ALC, took part in the panel discussion.
“Over 190 teachers and around 1,200 students were engaged in the legal clinical education in 2020. These figures are not bad but below those of 2019. Provision of legal information by legal clinics remained roughly at the 2019 level: such information was provided 6,340 times. On the other hand, through the media (articles, interviews, comments for the media), the public education campaign was intensified. Therefore, we may state that despite the pandemic legal clinics managed to adapt themselves to the situation and continued their operations, with certain losses though”, described the last year’s situation Ms. Lomzhets.
The presentation ended with a discussion of the importance of sustainable development of legal clinical education in Ukraine, ensuring proper preparation of law school students for the legal profession. The Association of Legal Clinics, jointly with its partners, will distribute the textbook to law schools, legal clinics, teachers, and students. Besides, with support from the USAID New Justice Program, the Association will work on a model syllabus for the subject titled “Legal Clinic Case Law” to facilitate the development and unification of the legal clinic case law. Teachers will use it together with the textbook to ensure high quality of teaching legal clinic-related subjects.
At the end of the presentation, all participants expressed a hope that publication of the textbook would promote practical training of future legal professionals, strengthen the legal clinic’s role in the implementation of practically oriented subjects, and have an overall positive impact on the quality of legal education in Ukraine.