On 26-28 May, a delegation of representatives from the Canadian Bureau for International Education and the Canadian Bar Association held a series of evaluation meetings with lawyers within the framework of the preparation of The Tomorrow’s Lawyer Initiative.
Under this initiative, a professional training program for lawyers will be implemented, which will include skills development, so-called “soft skills“, that will be useful in the work of every lawyer and will increase the level of professional training of lawyers in general.
On May 26, the representatives of the Canadian Bar Association continued to study the needs of training and development of the legal community during a meeting with lawyers providing free legal aid? in Kyiv and Kyiv region, as well as Zhytomyr and Zhytomyr region.
The meeting was held by Kimberly Inksater, Head of the International Programs at the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), and Sarah MacKenzie, lawyer-coordinator of Legislation & Law Reforms Department at the CBA, and representatives of the QALA Project: Director Larissa Bezo, Manager Oksana Kikot and Team Leader Ivanna Ibragimova.
The participants were discussing the challenges faced by lawyers in providing legal aid, the kind of support needed to make their work more efficient, and the competences that lawyers should develop to provide better quality aid to their clients.
Particularly, they were discussing skills needed in working with different vulnerable groups, interviewing clients, communicating with both clients and mass media and other stakeholders (judges, public prosecutors, etc.), the principles of ethical conduct, designing strategies in court cases and comprehensive approaches to solving the problems of their clients, etc.
Additionally, the Canadian colleagues had an opportunity to meet students and graduates of legal educational institutions and hear their thoughts on the quality of legal education and the training of legal professionals as well as the needs of young professionals further development.
On May 27, a regular evaluation session took place in Lviv during the 6th Western Ukrainian Legal Forum organized by the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA). The meeting brought together lawyers and representatives of lawyers’ self-governance agencies from all over Ukraine.
“Based on the results of today’s meetings and discussions, we can say that the challenges faced by the professional legal communities of Canada and Ukraine in many cases are very similar. We will happily promote engaging Canadian experience in the development of lawyer’s skills that would help them overcome these challenges successfully“, said Larysa Bizo, Director of the QALA Project.
“We have more resources for lobbying than we use. There are our representatives among parliamentarians, the authorities have become more open, but at the same time, the legal community does not have sufficient skills of rule-making. Sometimes, it is not only the lack of time or motivation that prevents active colleagues from work, but also unfamiliarity with the legal technique, inability to bring the idea to the implementation stage, organize discussions, conduct professional lobbying of a project. Therefore, in the context of the proposed initiative, the skills of rule-making and lobbying skills are a principal matter for me“, commented the UBA President Denys Buhai.
NGO “All-Ukrainian Association of Lawyers Providing Free Legal Aid” was represented at the meetings in Lviv by the Chairman of its Board Viktoriia Mitko. Among other things, she emphasized the need to teach experienced lawyers how to organize mentoring (supervision) in the bar, its role in ensuring the adoption of experience by young lawyers who have just joined the bar, and providing for the continuity of the best traditions of the bar.
Summarizing the results of the meeting and the information received from the Ukrainian colleagues, Sarah McKenzie gave an essential list of skills that are of particular importance according to the lawyers. They include: communication skills, leadership and strategic thinking development, as well as the understanding of the increased responsibility of lawyers, taking into account the high social relevance of their work and the increased ethical requirements to the profession.
Lawyers also suggested to include IT issues, psychological training sessions, the theory of case building, time management and awareness in the field of finances, in the program of professional training.
On Saturday, 28 May, the Canadian experts met with the lawyers providing free legal aid in Lviv region, representatives of the Regional FSLA Center in Lviv region and heads of standalone subdivisions of the NGO “All-Ukrainian Association of Lawyers Providing Free Legal Aid” in the cities of Lviv, Kharkiv and Cherkasy. During the meeting, the lawyers, in particular, talked about the need of holding joint training sessions with representatives of the prosecutor’s office in such a format, when lawyers and prosecutors could change their roles. According to lawyers, this would contribute to a change in the relations between participants of the justice process, cultivation of tolerant relations with other participants of this process, understanding that they are all colleagues, and what they do not lack now. The lawyers also noted the value and efficiency the of training sessions for lawyers-trainers and cascade trainings organized in the LA system.
Visit of Canadian experts organized with the support of the Quality and Accessible Legal Aid in Ukraine Project.
The Tomorrow’s Lawyer Initiative will be implemented with the support of the QALA Project, implemented by the Canadian Bureau for International Education and funded by the Government of Canada. “The Tomorrow’s Lawyer Initiative initiative envisages cooperation between the Canadian Bureau for International Education, the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA), NGO “All-Ukrainian Association of Lawyers Providing Free Legal Aid ” with the expert support from the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), for the purpose of development and implementation of a professional training program for lawyers, aimed at developing legal aid and advocacy skills, in order to support long-term development of a professional legal community, legal aid and reforms in the sphere of justice in Ukraine.