The Quality and Accessible Legal Aid in Ukraine Project continues to systematically support the development of the capacity for strategic planning in the system of free legal aid. On 2-4 December 2018, with the financial support of the Project, a strategic session of heads of FSLA regional and local centers and a team of the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision was held. This year’s event is the fourth annual meeting in this format, held with the assistance of the Project and bringing together over 120 heads of FSLA centers for the discussion of results and plans of improving the availability and quality of free legal aid to people in Ukraine.
As the Project Manager, Oksana Kikot emphasized in her welcome word that such annual meetings were also intended to facilitate the exchange of experience, best practices, training and aimed to create a platform for joint discussion of issues important for the further development of the LA system and to enable the participants to make their own contribution to the planning of the work of the LA system in the short and medium term.
The beginning of the session was devoted to the analysis of the changes dynamics compared with previous plans in terms of preserving achievements and improving performance. The directors presented their vision of progress in different regions of the country. The main focus of the first day of work was devoted to the development of proposals for a regional plan for the provision of LA in 2019 based on the LA Development Passport, finalized with the support of the Project and approved by the Ministry of Justice, and the definition of relevant performance indicators. The participants of the meeting worked in groups discussing the hierarchy of goals and objectives and expected results of the work in the context of building legal awareness, ensuring access and quality of LA, developing the best opportunities for people to exercise their rights in the territorial communities, as well as ways to promote independence, client orientation, innovation and efficiency of the LA system. This work will be continued in the future for the development of result-oriented management.
During the second and third day of the joint work, the participants discussed ways to enhance the system’s efficiency proposed in the presentation of Oleksii Bonyuk, Director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision, who presented the vision of challenges and risks for the development of the LA system, taking into account the results of functional analysis, considering different load on the access points and the need to reduce the costs of administrative functions. The Directors analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of various options of action, the possibilities for improving the interaction by changing the model in the region, transferring some administrative functions from local to regional level, eliminating or reorganizing local centers, merging regional centers and improving the territorial network and reformatting access points, as well as improving business processes and changes in the organizational structure of the centers. The participants also announced the criteria for assessing the location of access points, taking into account the needs of clients, as well as “road maps”, i.e. options of possible follow-up actions. The participants worked in 12 small groups and developed joint presentations in six merged groups and presented their work in plenary sessions. The discussion in groups was facilitated by the employees of PRAVOKATOR five law clubs. It is worth reminding that the Project conducted a relevant training on facilitation and negotiation for these employees in September.
In addition, Ivanna Smachylo, Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine, who assured the participants of the meeting in the partner support of the Ministry of Justice of the further development of the LA system and stressed that the system should further develop and improve in order to become even better. Yuriy Sverba, member of the expert group on access to justice of the Directorate of Human Rights, Access to Justice and Legal Awareness at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, also participated in the event.
At the end of the event, the Director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision emphasized the importance of continuing the coordinated team work of the system specialists for the purpose of implementing the values, mission and vision of the system, which are intended to provide the best legal services to people in Ukraine.