On 27 April 2016, during a briefing at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center, the management of the Ministry of Justice, the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision and international partners discussed details of holding a competition for the selection of candidates to fill the vacancies of the heads of legal aid bureaus, who, starting from 1 September, will begin their work throughout Ukraine within the framework of the expansion of the legal aid system.
“Our goal is that these bureaus involve people who are completely different from the typical image of a civil servant. Our goal is to recruit young motivated people with a bachelor’s degree or higher legal qualifications for managerial positions at the bureaus. But most importantly, they should have the desire to work in a new justice system, to help Ukrainians and protect the law and justice“, said the Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko.
“On the website you can find the relevant application form, where it is necessary to indicate your personal data and information about education and choose 5 settlements where you would like to work“, said the Minister of Justice. He informed that it was decided to prolong the competition (it should be recalled that the competitive selection of applicants for the positions of the heads of bureaus was announced on 4 April 4 this year) and, in particular, the stage of collecting the applications, by the end of May, so that as many as possible candidates could take part in it. “And so that we could choose the best ones“, said Pavlo Petrenko.
He also informed that within the framework of the competition stages, particularly based on the results of processing the received applications with regard to compliance with formal requirements, applicants will be invited to complete a distance learning course, so even those who do not pass the competition will be able to gain new knowledge.
According to him, the work in the bureau will be not only interesting, but also a well-paid one. The salary will be higher compared to the civil service and will vary from 3.5 to 4.5 thousand UAH. “We have an ambitious plan to increase this level up to 5 thousand UAH“, he added.
“Our task is to do everything possible to ensure that the legal aid bureau becomes the face of justice in Ukraine. I would like to appeal to all young lawyers to join the competition. You have an opportunity to choose any place of work throughout the territory of Ukraine. You can realize your potential and have a great chance to take advantage of a social lift. We invite you to our big friendly family of the Ministry of Justice“, said Pavlo Petrenko.
The Deputy Minister of Justice Gia Getsadze in his turn informed: the second wave of reforms of the Ministry of Justice stipulates that in place of the old district administrations, which actually did not perform any useful functions for citizens, “service centers” will be created, thus helping our citizens to get legal aid.
“We are changing approaches and turning our faces to the citizens. We hope that following our example, other ministries and agencies will join us in these processes“, said Gia Getsadze.
As explained by the First Deputy Director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision Myroslav Lavrinok, the mission of the bureaus is to strengthen the legal capacity of territorial communities. The staff of the bureaus will be engaged in the provision of free primary legal aid (legal advice), access to free secondary legal aid (reception of appeals from citizens), and its actual provision (representation of clients’ interests in court, drafting procedural documents), the counseling of citizens and assistance in obtaining digital services of the Ministry of Justice.
“The competition will be conducted in 3 stages. The first stage is the processing of applications for compliance with formal criteria. The second stage is a distance learning course, processing its results and invitation for an interview. The third stage is interview with the candidates, which will help to reveal their motivation“, – he added.
According to him, the Coordination Center has already received over 2,000 applications for participation in the competition.
Oksana Kikot, Manager of the QALA project, noted that the project had been successfully cooperating with the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine since 2014. “Our main aim is to improve the access of the citizens of Ukraine, especially vulnerable groups, to justice and to free legal aid in particular. We support the institutional development as well as human resources development of the LA system“, she said.
She noted that last year the project supported the expansion of the legal aid system and the establishment of 100 local FSLA centers. Thus, the project provided methodological and organizational assistance in conducting the first in history of the system open competition for the positions of directors of these local centers.
“This year we support the Coordination Center in conducting an open competition for the heads of the legal aid bureaus. The approach to selection involves evaluating the competencies of the candidates. We are looking for people who share the values of the LA system, namely, integrity, openness to the new and customer orientation“, she explained. She also added: “The selection methodology involves equal treatment and the same approach to assessing each candidate“.
Oksana Kikot also noted that upon completion of the competition, the project would support the advanced training of the bureaus staff, their further professional development.
“In Canada, there are 13 different provincial legal aid systems operating. And we have an opportunity to provide Ukrainian experts with the access to a wide experience both in Canada and the best international practices; that’s what we are planning to do“, she concluded.
“This project (ed. – free legal aid) has really been institutionalized, and now the ministry is transforming the territorial departments of justice into legal aid bureaus“, said Yevhen Bystrytskyi, Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation, which systematically and persistently supports initiatives related to human rights protection in Ukraine. The creation of legal aid bureaus will enable the citizens to receive legal advice, which, according to Yevhen Bystrytskyi, “equals the acquisition of legal awareness, legal self-consciousness, and, therefore, a feeling of much more confidence in different situations and having self-defense in the legal field. If this self-awareness comes from the bottom, from the communities, it will give a serious impetus to the reform of the legal system, in its turn, namely, the judicial reform and the reform of the prosecutor’s office.” He expressed the view that people who would work at the bureaus, apart from providing legal advice to citizens, would form an information network, fixing the problematic issues of the communities, with their systematization, which would give the Ministry of Justice an understanding of the legal needs of citizens in the regions and an understanding of ways to respond to these needs. “We will support the relevant trainings, the dissemination of networking practices, since it provides a qualitative content of the legal aid provision process“, added Yevhen Bystrytskyi.
Watch full video of the briefing in Ukrainian.
Watch full video of the briefing in English.