"Photo courtesy of Lviv legal group"

Key facts

  • Holding organisation: Lviv legal group, Ukraine: a non-profit organisation run by and for law students
  • Financing: Membership fees and donations cover minor expenses such as court fees. Free use of law faculty for office space & meeting clients
  • People involved in the project: the project is comprised of law students and recent graduates between 18 to 25 years old
  • Creation Date: 5th September 2012
  • Contact Persons: Roman Kryvosheia: president à lvivlegalgroup.org
  • Main project links: http://www.lvivlegalgroup.org/

The idea

As already mentioned, the project deals with issues like the social exclusion of vulnerable groups of citizens, due to their limited ability to exercise their rights, and the exclusion of recent law graduates from the labour market due to a lack of work experience.

We Lviv legal group consider equal opportunities, in the enjoyment of citizens’ rights, to be a prerequisite and core pillar of social unity and cohesion. That is why the project brings together law students and recent graduates with vulnerable groups in society in order to help them benefit from mutual cooperation and therefore foster social cohesion. The project is also focused on getting young people (especially law students) more involved in matters of public interest, making them feel like an integral part of our community and of course helping them gain valuable knowledge and experience that they will be able to use in their future lives and careers.

Goals and objectives

Despite the fact that all over the world human rights are declared to be inalienable and everyone is considered to be entitled to these rights, we still have such problems as poverty, inequality and social exclusion. Like a disease, these weaken the unity of our society and the concept of ‘living together’ yet we still have no cure.

Our main goal is to achieve a more equal and inclusive society through providing vulnerable groups of Ukrainians with the ability to fully exercise their rights, and not just have them declared in a variety of treaties our country has signed or in laws it has passed. Our second goal is to make recent law graduates more valued in the labour market, as well as to prevent these young specialists from being discriminated against because of lack of work experience and, consequently, joining the ranks of the unemployed.

How it works

Our group has defined two major issues to deal with - helping vulnerable citizens with legal aid, and helping law students to gain work experience. We offer a win-win solution to these problems.

Our Social Cohesion Clinic works throughout an academic year and is comprised of teams (3-4 law students each) who are involved in providing individuals with legal aid. To encourage the motivation of young people, we regularly estimate the quality of aid provided and indicate the score for each team along with its ranking in an open access table. Thus, according to their position, teams are entitled to a priority of choosing new cases and clients.

The project shows us that the society has a special mechanism – the mechanism of self-healing and that we have everything we need to trigger it. The only step we are expected to make is developing such initiatives that may bring together several different groups of our society and show them how they can benefit from their mutual commitments and cooperation.

Participation and governance

The organisation as well as the project is comprised of law students and recent graduates between 18 to 25 years old who are interested in gaining useful work experience, broadening their knowledge and making their own contribution towards a more democratic, equal and inclusive society.

Owing to the fact that we do not need to pay for office space and are permitted to meet our clients on the premises of the law faculty, we have kept our expenses to a minimum. Otherwise, membership fees and donations help us to cover minor expenses such as court fees.

Added value

This project has helped us to gain indispensable work experience, to understand what it means to be a lawyer, to feel ourselves as integral elements of our society; it has even prompted some of us to reconsider our life principles. We have also made a lot of new friends and acquaintances. The Social Cohesion Clinic has shown our members that the legal profession is not solely about the money and, by using their knowledge to help those in need of advise, they can change the society we are living in.

Future perspectives

As with any other project, it is the initial start-up period that is the most difficult. We have since passed this stage since the project was successfully launched last September. It is an ongoing project about which we continue to raise awareness by cooperating with different local media and law firms. We do not set any time limits to this project since we feel it can fulfil its functions as long as there is a need for law students to gain work experience and for vulnerable groups of society to receive legal aid.