Полоцкий государственный университет

Polotsk
State
University

On November 27-29, 2019 PSU hosted an International Conference “Legal Clinics: Sight into the Future” organized by the Faculty of Law, Regional Academic Research and Practical Law Centre, Student Legal Support Service, Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Lund, Sweden).


During three days, representatives of all legal clinics in Belarus as well as heads and staff of legal clinics in Armenia, Georgia, Poland, the Netherlands, Latvia, Ukraine and Czech Republic discussed the issues related to legal clinics, exchanged their experiences and presented their work directions. Practitioners of legal consultation offices in Polotsk and Brest, law bureaus, prosecutor’s offices participated in the conference as well.

Following the welcoming speech of Vice Rector for Research Yury Golubev, Alexandra Ronkina, Program Coordinator of Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Lund, Sweden), and Dean of the Law Faculty Irina Vegera, the conference started in the campus in Mezhdurechye.

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On the 1st day, conference participants were presented clinical legal education programs and the manual developed by clinic representatives from Belarusian State University, Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus and Polotsk State University.

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After the presentation of legal clinics, speakers from Latvia, Georgia, Armenia and Poland shared their impressions on the conference.

Jautrīte Briede (University of Latvia): “Attending such international conferences is a good way to learn something new. I’m very interested in the manual developed by our Belarusian colleagues. I will definitely have a look at it. I think there’s something useful that can be adopted in educational process. Even when you know the subject well, you can always find something new for yourself.

I’ve already been to Belarus. I’ve visited a workshop on administrative law in Minsk. However, this is my first time at PSU. The building is new and beautiful. To see such an unusual lecture hall was a pleasant surprise for me”.

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Jasmijn de Zeeuw, Senior Researcher in Public International Law & Policy Group at Free University Amsterdam (Amsterdam, the Netherlands): “I work in the international law clinic at the University of Amsterdam. We’ve been experimenting with new forms of doing clinical legal education. So that’s what I'll talk about today. I hope to learn a lot from the other legal clinics, to learn how they do things, what kind of topics are current in Belarus, for example. I also wonder what kind of issues the clients have and how you deal with them. And I look for hearing more about the manual.

It's my first time in Belarus and PSU. I’m very excited. I haven’t seen much yet, but it’s a very beautiful university and a nice room”.

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Łukasz Presnarowicz, a PhD student at University of Bialystok (Bialystok, Poland): I'm going to talk about the consumer protection in Poland. I expect a good atmosphere, friendly people willing to exchange the experience, which is very important. I’d like to have a good time and come here again.

It’s not my first time in Belarus, I was in Grodno previously. I have never been in Novopolotsk before. I’m very impressed about the preparation of the entire event and the atmosphere here. It’s very important for me”.

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Seda Stepanyan, Director's Assistant at Legal Clinic of Yerevan State University (Yerevan, Armenia): “Our clinic, like many other legal clinics, focuses mainly on two areas: “Street Law” and consultancy work with clients. We have a lot of students with great potential, and we are trying to implement it in all programs. Of course, sometimes we do not have enough resources, but we try to involve students in the clinic work as much as possible.
The conference is very interesting. I’m grateful to the organizers that this topic was chosen for the conference. I’d like that we could cooperate with other clinics: whether it is a student exchange programs or teaching methods exchange. It will be very interesting for us. I really liked the presentation of your clinic. This is my first time in Belarus. You have a fabulous winter and lots of trees. Everything is gorgeous: both the atmosphere and the participants.

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Demetre Egnatashvili, Tbilisi State University (Tbilisi, Georgia): “This is my first time visiting PSU, Polotsk and Belarus in general. This is quite nice experience. The conference itself is really interesting because TSU is one of the massive and big universities in the country. We have around 4 000 students and quite big legal clinics. That’s why networking on international scale is kind of our priority. In my opinion, this conference will give us a possibility to establish new contacts, and maybe draft some kind of teacher partnership priorities. It’s going to be quite fruitful not only for the guests, but also for the host. Besides, we will give a short presentation about our legal clinics”.

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Pavel Solovyov and Irina Shakhnovskaya, the representatives of legal clinics at PSU, shared their experience at the conference as well. Since 2002 Student Legal Support Service operates at the Law Faculty at PSU and provides free legal aid to citizens. “Street Law: Every Day Law” actively develops under the supervision of Kristina Savitskaya.

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On the 2nd day, the workshopEXPERIENTIAL LEARNING” was held by an outside advisor from Great Britain Richard Grimes, representing Charles University (Czech Republic). The participants had a chance to become student-consultants and to demonstrate a creative problem solving.

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On the final day, the conference participants discussed prospects for international cooperation in the field of legal clinics, as well as programmes on attracting foreign grants. Before summing up and closing the conference, the participants were able to gain relevant experience in the framework of the workshop “Developing Project Ideas for International Co-operation on CLE”.

Three days of productive international “non-stop” training, experience and knowledge exchange, know-how with the participation of specialists and practitioners, teachers and students from all universities of Belarus and representatives of foreign universities is a unique opportunity to establish and develop international cooperation in such an important area of ​​legal education, as legal clinics. Such events both contribute to joint programs development and student/staff exchange and develop professional skills of future lawyers.

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Faculty of Law
Photos by Polina Kosarevskaya