December 22, 2015

Legal Clinic - An Instrument for Defending Human Rights

December 11, 2015, Law Faculty, Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca. ACTEDO organized a debate on the role of legal clinics in the professional development of law students across the country. Renowned speakers discussed how students can support public interest and why it is crucial for them to assume an active role in social justice. 



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Associate Professor Sergiu Bogdan, the Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law, opened the debate with a word on the importance of students applying theoretical knowledge in society. The legal clinic - for the time being, an optional course at the Faculty of Law in Cluj - "is the link between the theory studied at university and existential or moral issues present in contemporary society", declared Sergiu Bogdan.

The honorary guest, Prof. dr. Andres Gascon-Cuenca of the University of Valencia presented the four legal clinics which are currently functioning at the institution he represents. Although different in the areas of law they approach, the legal clinics are united by the underlying commitment to social justice, as well as the autonomy of students when dealing with concrete cases. The minimal involvement of academia in student-beneficiary relationship translkates to an increased responsibility of students and fosters a larger social debate on the role of (future) lawyers in society.

The proposition to develop the legal clinic at the Faculty of Law in Cluj was met with great enthusiasm by Șerban Hălmăgean, the President of ELSA (European Law Students Association) Cluj-Napoca, who underlined the need for practical experience for future lawyers, especially in the field of human rights, often neglected in Romania.

Iulia Pascu, ACTEDO, put forward a collaboration model between the legal clinic of the Faculty of Law in Cluj and The Pro Bono Network for Human Rights, a clearinghouse specializing in human rights, while underlying the need to defend the fundamental rights of vulnerable groups and to facilitate their access to justice.

The issue of pro bono legal aid was addressed by Delia Niță, the Manager of the Anti-Discrimination Program of the Center for Legal Resources (CLR), who presented ACTEDO and CLR's proposition for a better regulation of pro bono in Romania. More details about the proposition can be found here (only in Romanian).

"Clinical legal education is a legal teaching method based on experiential learning, which fosters the growth of knowledge, personal skills and values as well as promoting social justice at the same time. As a broad term, it encompasses varieties of formal, non-formal and informal educational programs and projects, which use practical-oriented, student-centered, problem-based, interactive learning methods, including, but not limited to, the practical work of students on real cases and social issues supervised by academics and professionals. These educational activities aim to develop professional attitudes and foster the growth of the practical skills of students with regard to the modern understanding of the role of the socially oriented professional in promoting the rule of law, providing access to justice and peaceful conflict resolutions, and solving social problems" - definition taken from ENCLE, The European Network for Clinical Legal Education, of which ACTEDO is a member. 

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