Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

“Legal Clinic” is the best alternative to have a healthy, legally aware society and skilled specialists of law

August 7, 2020

Activities | Legal Clinic | Project։ Stability of HCA Vanadzor in the light of democracy and human rights challenges in the Republic of Armenia 2020 | Capacity Building | Publications | News

Lawyer Ani Hasratyan is from Vayots Dzor region. She started her professional activity in different courts of the capital. Currently she is a lawyer in Gladzor enlarged community. She learnt about Legal Clinic-2020 from HCA Vanadzor Facebook page. In her words, it is a pity she did not know about this opportunity earlier, otherwise she would have participated every year.


She says, this training, with its practical and theoretical stages, is too educational in terms of professional growth.


“Such trainings are very important, especially for community residents and students. Soon I have a civil proceeding and I’m going to prepare a claim. This training will help me prepare it more properly. From the training topics, women’s and children’s rights, protection of vulnerable families, the right to freedom of information are the circle of my main interests, so whatever we learn will be very useful for me in our community”.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, HCA Vanadzor annual “Legal Clinic” training is conducted remotely this year. It was launched on June 1 and will last until December 31.


30 persons applied and 16 participants were chosen. They are from Kotayk, Ararat, Vayots Dzor, Tavush, Gegharkunik and Aragatsotn regions and capital city Yerevan and are mainly individuals with legal education and students of high courses in faculties of law. Despite the remote version, the two-stage project will have the same duration: theoretical (2 months) and practical (3 months). 


The project is aimed at improving professional skills of young lawyers in spheres of provision of legal consultations, human rights protection and collection of information related to human rights.


“Besides the main topic of domestic and international mechanisms of human rights protection, during the past two years, we particularly stressed the topics of legal protection of women and children and legal aid to persons subjected to domestic violence, which is an up-to-date topic. Unfortunately, the topics of the training, i.e. human rights protection with conventions is not taught in any higher education institution and is not envisaged in any educational program. Therefore, there is a need to educate young lawyers”, says HCA Vanadzor advocate Ani Chatinyan, who is the coordinator of “Legal Clinic”.  


Vanatur Sherents, from the capital city, is a YSU graduate and works in Protection of Rights without Borders NGO as a specialist of administrative court monitoring. He gives importance to the training both in terms of the trainers and the choice of participants. The former are  experts of their spheres, very competent, and the latter are persons with knowledge of a narrow professional sphere, which gives an opportunity to make the training more effective. Besides the theoretical part, they also do practical tasks without being in touch with the trainers, “In the conditions of isolation due to coronavirus pandemic, the training still takes place. Even those restrictions have not hindered to add practice to professional theoretical knowledge, especially, given the condition that the training aims at filling in the gap that is not filled during the students’ university education, often in terms of practical knowledge”.


Advocate, international law expert Ara Ghazaryan, human rights defender Zaruhi Hovhannisyan and Araks Melkonyan, Chairperson of Protection of Rights without Borders, have joined HCA Vanadzor legal team of trainers. 


In the theoretical stage of the project, training participants get knowledge on human rights protection mechanisms, violations of persons subjected to domestic violence and persons with disabilities, labor rights and the right to life. 


In the second stage, they will already use the theoretical knowledge in practice in the form of legal consultations and making legal documents.


Anahit Mikayelyan is a legal specialist from Masis town. She says that participating in “Legal Clinic” is important for her in terms of professional growth, “In the frame of the Clinic, international practice is stressed, which is lacking in our educational institutions, where domestic legislation is stressed and very little is spoken about the international practice, including precedent decisions of the ECtHR. The first thing I get from the Clinic is the development of an international mindset”. 


““Legal Clinic” is the best alternative to have a healthy, legally aware society and skilled specialists of law”, says participant Karen Gharyan, who studies in the third course in YSU Faculty of Law. Taking his acquaintance’s advice, he decided to participate in the training. His great desire is that legal knowledge on human rights and human rights protection be involved also in school programs, which would contribute to the formation of more aware citizens from school age, “The knowledge given in the higher education institution program is  so incomplete that legal clinic is a very good alternative to fill the gap. This training is important not only for lawyers, but also for common citizens. If we have a society which is legally aware, many problems will automatically be solved. Frankly speaking, I find that it will be right if such programs are integrated in school education”.  


Ani Chatinyan speaks about the effectiveness of the training, “Those who pass the Legal Clinic are different, and this difference from those who have not participated in the project is visible, at least to us. It gives legal practitioners a great opportunity to design their idea about human rights and human rights protection mechanisms.Work experience, which is an important issue in the labor market of young specialists, is also filled this way”.


 During 7 years, around 100 lawyers have completed “Legal Clinic” and many of them have excellent activity in the human rights protection sphere, they have been employed also in HCA Vanadzor and in partner organizations. A part of them successfully use the knowledge obtained in their professional sphere and cooperate with HCA Vanadzor. 

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