Between 26 and 30 of October 2022, a group of representatives of the Polish legal clinics and the Polish Lega Clinics Foundation visited partner universities in Kosovo.First part of the visit was held in Pristina, at the Faculty of Law, University of Pristina where the Polish group was welcomed by the Dean of the law school, professor Muhamet Vokrri and representatives of academic as well as by the students.
The meeting was dedicated to the update on the project development followed by lively discussion on the current status of the university legal clinic.
After a warm opening and greetings from the authorities of the University of Pristina, representatives of the Polish delegation introduced themselves and provided key information on the legal clinic they represent. The idea was to bring up the specifics of the clinics operating in Poland (such as: experience of the oldest clinics, interesting and novel sections dedicated to fields of law including NGOs law or animal rights), current problems (such as: declining number of cases due to the legal aid reform or clinical work during remote teaching times) and challenges (clinical assistance during the war in Ukraine).
The President of the Polish Legal Clinics Foundation presented the idea behind the “umbrella organization” and talked about the ways the Foundation supports legal clinics throughout the country.
Next, representatives of the University of Pristina presented the current state of affairs in terms of the organization of the legal clinic at the Faculty of Law. This part was followed by the questions & answers’ session where Polish experience was discussed and where Polish examples were given to solve the current problems in Kosovo. The idea of standardization of the clinical work was greatly analyzed and Polish good practices were offered as reference point (including the standards themselves available at: http://www.fupp.org.pl/en/legal-clinics/standards). The problem of popularization of the clinical assistance in the community was also discussed brining on the specific situation of Pristina and its neighborhoods’ needs. Students of the University of Pristinna asked questions about most interesting cases the Polish legal clinics had had and it showed a wide spectrum of legal problems students may deal with and ways of handing difficult live client situations.
The Polish delegation then visited the premises of the clinic as well as the faculty building including an impressive court room. Another round of discussions including students’ questions and good practices sharing was organized and ended with strategic planning overview. As the newly established legal clinic at the University of Pristina has to suspend the activities due to the pandemic, it is only now entering the case acceptance era. The dedication of the clinical supervisors is helpful and seem to provide excellent grounds for future development. The clinical premises are spacious and student-friendly. The only modification could be done toward providing a more separated place for the face to face meeting with clients.
The second part of the visit was held in Gjilan where the Polish delegation met with students of Law Clinics at the University of Haxhi Zeka. The delegation was welcomed by the Vice Rector and the Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Kadri Zeka. After a warm welcome and presentation of the history of the University and its new legal clinics program, the Polish delegation’s members introduced themselves and presented best practices of the Polish legal clinics’ activities. This part of the meeting was followed by a series of questions and requests of broadening the description of the Polish clinics’ most challenging experiences.
The meeting included not only presentation of the Polish clinics, but focused also on the discussion on the situation of clinical legal education in Kosovo and description of the ways the clinical program will be working in at Kadri Zeka University, as well as on the debate on current challenges and future plans.
Members of the Polish delegation were invited to visit the University building. The delegation also had a chance to see the room designated to the clinic, fully equipped and prepared for the beginning of students’ clinical work.
There was time dedicated to some sightseeing followed by another rounds of talks on the project and on the planning of the next meetings.
The study visit showed how well both Universities are prepped to provide legal assistance, presenting perfect and full equipment, nicely designed rooms with all necessary furniture – even if they still need some proper adaptation, so that the clients may be interviewed with respect to privacy and confidentiality rules. All Polish delegation members were impressed by the devotion and great interest paid to the project realization and creation of successful legal clinics program at each of the Universities. Being partner in this project we feel that a lot has been achieved so far but of course there are still many important goals to be reached. The final result of the project may best be judged by the satisfaction of the legal clinics’ clients.
The Polish delegation included the following members: