Representatives of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine, with the support of the USAID New Justice Program, took part in the annual international conference “Improving the Future: Using Clinical Legal Education to educate Lawyers for a Just Society” organized by the European Network for Clinical Legal Education in Bratislava (Slovakia).
The participants of the event – academics, law school lecturers and lawyers from Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australia – discussed the role of clinical legal education in the context of global challenges for ensuring the rule of law in a context of political and social instability. They also exchanged experiences and best practices in the field of clinical legal education designed to improve the justice system.
Members of the Board of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine Andrii Halai, Maria Tsypiashchuk, and Yuliia Lomzhets, presented the experience of Ukraine to the international clinical legal community regarding the development and implementation of mechanisms for ensuring the quality of clinical legal education. In order to create a national network of legal clinics, which currently has 60 clinics, the Association in 2014 developed unified standards for the operation of legal clinics in Ukraine. The goal of compliance with these standards is to improve the quality of the work of legal clinics, as well as to encourage students’ practical skills in the educational process.
The Association’s monitoring of compliance with the standards which has been conducted at the national level since 2017, is unique in international practice. With the support of the USAID New Justice Program, the Association of Legal Clinics has developed a monitoring tool for four levels of the quality of legal clinics’ work: a newly organized clinic, basic level legal clinic, a legal clinic that meets standards, and a high-quality legal clinic. The benefits include a comprehensive assessment of the organizational, technical, educational and communication capabilities of legal clinics, as well as providing timely methodological assistance to remove the barriers to quality legal clinical education locally. Specifically, after the monitoring, three legal clinics gained better premises and techniques; thirteen clinics have improved compliance with the document flow standards. Additionally, legal clinics have developed strong ties with local authorities and law schools, some of which until that time did not include clinical legal education in their curricula.
Representatives from the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the USAID New Justice Program and NGOs were part of the monitoring process.
This Ukrainian experience was mentioned during the conference as an example of an effective process of standardizing the activity of legal clinics, which could be followed by other countries. The development of international cooperation between the Ukrainian legal clinical community and legal clinics from other countries, as well as the European Network for Clinical Legal Education, will further improve legal education both in Ukraine and in the world.