University-based Legal Clinics Enhance Professional Opportunities for Young Belarusian Lawyers

University-based Legal Clinics Enhance Professional Opportunities for Young Belarusian Lawyers
USAID supports the development of university-based legal clinics that create a stimulating environment for the professional development of students and provide them with opportunities to learn from national and international law professionals.

Being a proactive member of the Belarusian legal community, Ms. Liubov Krasnitskaya has been sharing her experience and training peer-colleagues for more than a decade. She has helped organize study visits and establish a partnership with the University Legal Clinics Foundation in Poland, which gives Belarusians the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Western-style legal clinical practices.

Thanks to Liubov’s activities, Belarusian legal clinics have raised the quality of their services to an international level, encouraging them to apply for participation in the 2011 World Legal Clinics Forum in Valencia, Spain. A team of 12 Belarusians was selected and USAID funded their participation in the event. In 2011, American colleagues, with whom she met within the exchange program, invited Liubov to participate in an internship in Vietnam and to share her expertise in development of legal clinical education.

Participation in a USAID-administered exchange visit to the United States in 2006 has also enhanced Liubov’s professional and leadership skills as well as her understanding of the legal clinic concept. After her return from the United States, she contributed to setting up specialized legal clinic sections on environmental and social security law at the Belarus State University legal clinic. Seven more specialized sections will be established in 2012 in regional cities with USAID support.

Despite her current studies abroad, Liubov is still tied to legal clinics in Belarus. “It’s principally Liubov who helps in my everyday work,” said Aliona Mikhasiova, the current director of the Belarus State University legal clinic. “I wish I had been able to attend clinical classes when I was a law student. However, thanks to Liubov’s commitment and involvement, I now fully appreciate the value that these legal clinics add to the professional community and to the public at large.”

Since 2003, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported the creation and development of fifteen university-based legal clinics in Belarus to enhance civic participation and improve legal services to vulnerable groups through the program implemented by Eurasia Foundation and its partnering local organization New Eurasia Establishment.