13.12.2002 | Dmitriy Shlykov, Lugansk

„Juridical clinics“ for legal training of students


Reforming the existing system of preparing specialists in the branch of jurisprudence is impossible without the usage of the special programs for the practical training of the future lawyers. The main goal of such programs is to overcome the gap between the legal education and practical skills. A young specialist graduating from a lawyers school must possess all the knowledge, skills and experience necessary for finding quick and high-quality solutions of various juridical situations. The analysis of the methodical literature shows that the attention is almost rarely paid to the methods of legal education, directed at developing the concrete practices of the communication with clients, registering juridical cases, negotiating with state officials, lobbying the citizens’ interests in state organs, etc. Almost all Ukrainian curricula for the practical training of students of law are the adapted versions of foreign, mainly American, ones. One of the most efficient and universal programs is „Juridical clinic“. The basic form of realizing the program „Juridical clinic“ consists in creating in a higher school the structural unit (or a separate juridical person, most frequent a public organization, closely cooperating with the school) with the personnel, who are taught the practical methods of carrying concrete legal cases during rendering legal aid (usually free) to the socially unprotected layers of population. Teachers take part in organizing and conducting the training on the basis of this unit. The personnel of this unit are students, who are controlled by teachers-consultants. The originality of „Juridical clinic“ is that, along with the training and the opportunity for students to apply practically their theoretical knowledge in concrete life situations, the conditions are created for instilling and developing socially important features of students. Such features, for example, are: juridical and moral responsibility; realizing one’s own emotional and ideological inner life, rights, laws, guilt, empathy, condemnation; understanding one’s own responsibility and striving for establishing truth and justice. Besides, owing to the work in „Juridical clinic“ the problems of professional orientation are solved, since it is not a secret that after graduation from juridical institutes young specialists frequently do not know, in which branch they would want to work. As for the poor layers of population, who cannot afford to pay for the aid of advocates, for them „Juridical clinic“ becomes one of the elements of legal protection. In spite of the novelty, urgency and world acknowledgment of „Juridical clinic“, there is no legal base for introducing this program into teaching process. For example, curriculum of the juridical education No. 344 for the period up to 2005, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on 10 April 2001, envisages only the development of the already existing legal subjects and the reformation of the old system of practical training of the students of lawyers schools, but it says nothing about the implementation of new educational programs.

From the viewpoint of the legal regulation of the activities of „Juridical clinic“, it would be interesting to consider the experience of the Russian Federation. In spite of the fact that Russia also has no normative legal acts stipulating the activities of „Juridical clinic“, owing to the orders of the Ministry of education of the Russian Federation, in particular, order No. 433 „On legal consultations („legal clinics“) for population on the base of the high schools preparing lawyers“ of 5 October 1999, the creation of „Juridical clinics“ is organizationally endorsed. The orders of the Ministry solved three main problems of the existence of „Juridical clinics“:

The concept was introduced of „Juridical clinic“ as a structural unit of higher schools preparing lawyers;

The procedure of the legalization of „Juridical clinics“ was stipulated, and the system of coordinating their activities was created;

Methodical and scientific support of „Juridical clinics“ by such state agencies, as the Center of educational legislation of the Ministry of education, were legally provided.

Along with the absence of legal acts on creating and developing „Juridical clinics“, there exist many internal problems concerning the implementation of this program. For example, according to the recent data, more than ten operating juridical clinics work at law higher schools. These clinics to some extent use the classical methods of the clinical education. However, the term „clinical education“ is not understood by many participants of this project. In some cases the participants are not explained the theoretical basis of juridical clinics. For example, goals and tasks of the program are not distinctly defined; the fundamentals of organizing the clinic as a unit of higher law school is not explained; the mechanisms of interrelations between the clinic and the school are not considered. The students-consultants are taught the practical skills in rendering legal aid to population, and the persons, who fulfill the administrative functions are taught nothing at all. Neglecting the theoretical base of the program or the weak control over the training on the side of school administration leads to the transformation of a juridical clinic into other structure. Instead of the clinic a public juridical consultation appears – an autonomous organization, whose personnel begins to pay most attention to the interests of this organization. Such degeneration may be also realized consciously, that is the personnel knows about the essence of juridical clinics, but purposely wants to create their own self-governed organization, in which the program of the clinical education will be only a curtain covering the ambitions of the administration. Thus, having some surface attributes of a juridical clinic (rendering legal aid to population, typical record keeping, etc.), the new structure lacks two main elements: the practical experience accumulated in the clinic is not considered and analyzed in the educational process of law schools and, as a result, the juridical clinic as a part of school curricula actually stops to exist. Certainly, the new organization may be viable, since the circle of rights widens, opportunity for attracting new partners and sponsors appears and new directions of the activities are created. However, the link with the educational process is lost. The relations between the clinic and the school begin to be based on the parity principle, which, naturally, is not liked by the school administration. All this makes the school stop to support the clinic both materially and with staff. The final result of such transformation is, seemingly, the appearance of a youth human rights protecting public organization having the status of a juridical person, or something like this. Theoretically, the creation of a youth public organization is a positive phenomenon, but the process of such creation through the degeneration of a juridical clinic is far from ideal, since it implies some opposition to the school. In our opinion, the measures to prevent such processes are the following:

to define the status of „Juridical clinic“ legislatively;

to regard „Juridical clinics“ as structural units of law higher schools and faculties, thus participating in the educational process;

to provide the clinics with the teachers able to deliver the idea of „Juridical clinics“ to the students;

to include the work of students in „Juridical clinics“ to the curricula of educating professional lawyers;

to permit to reckon the work of the students-consultants as juridical practices.

P. S.The similar juridical clinic successfully works since 1999 at the juridical faculty of the East-Ukrainian national university (Lugansk). This clinic is endorsed by the Lugansk public organization „Lawyers’ club“ of students and post-graduates of the faculty.

Manager, coordinator and three consultants (students of the last years) work in the clinic. The clients are received two hours a day twice a week.

„Lawyers’ club“ in cooperation with the juridical faculty published the book „A methodical manual for organizing juridical clinics“ (Методические указания по организации „Юридической клиники“/ Сост. Проф. Л.И. Лазор, В.В. Гнилорыбов, Д.В. Шлыков. – Луганск: Изд-во ВНУ, 2000.- 36 с.).

More detailed information, as well as the educational and methodical materials concerning the creation of juridical clinics one may obtain in „Lawyers’ club“ by the address: 1-a Vatutiva, 1-a, Lugansk, 91034, Ukraine (the juridical faculty of the East-Ukrainian national university); tel.: (0642) 46-11-01, 46-65-64;  e-mail: [email protected]  

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