Clinical Legal Education
Clinical legal education (also referred to as “legal clinics”) is an educational program that has been widely implemented into the study curriculum by the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University in Bratislava since 2012. Legal clinics are based on interactive and reflective methods of education and its priority objective is to equip students with:
- Theoretical and practical knowledge,
- Practical skills and competencies,
- Moral values in accordance with professional ethics.
Legal clinics help students even during their studies to gain practical legal experience, skills and competencies thereby promoting a greater preparedness of graduates for entering legal practice. The mission of legal clinics is to provide law students with the opportunity for practical application of theoretical knowledge through a wide variety of forms of practical legal education. By clinical legal education students master the interaction of legal doctrine, working habits, communication with clients as well as the ethical, social, economic and political importance of legal representation. Furthermore, the purpose of legal clinics is to increase the quality of teaching, thus fostering the improvement of education system at the Law Faculty as well as the stimulation of student's personality towards purposefulness, independence and creativity. Clinical legal education systematically contributes to the fact that graduates of the Faculty of Law are, able to develop not just theoretical knowledge but also practical skills such as critical and analytical legal thinking, to adopt constructive approach to resolving legal issues, to prepare legal submissions, or to analyse and reflect legal issues with regard to legal interdisciplinarity.
Achievements in clinical legal education at the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University in Bratislava comprise the following:
- Establishment of the Institute of Clinical Legal Education and Physical Culture as an integral part of the Faculty,
- Organisation of a large number of courses and workshops aimed at the development of clinical legal education which were mentored by experts from the Law Faculty of the Palacky University in Olomouc,
- Creation of more than 20 clinical courses, which exist as simulated but also live clinics in which students solve real cases from practice and the outcomes are provided directly to involved subjects,
- ü Development of cooperation with legal practice
- Development of cooperation with the third sector through the course called “Legal clinics for NGOs”, where students, under the supervision of internal and external supervisors, provide legal advice to non-profit organizations,
- Development of the internship program, where the Faculty of Law currently cooperates with more than 26 institutions; more than 120 students were selected for the internship in the academic year 2015/2016,
- Organization of the first year of the Summer School of Legal Skills,
- Faculty of Law of the Comenius University in the academic year 2014/2015 created student teams, which were led by experienced coaches (a faculty member or an expert from legal practice) and participated at the prestigious international moot competitions, such as: Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court Competition (Vis Moot) – business law (Hannover and Vienna), European Law Moot Court Competition (ELMC) – EU law (Bremen and Luxemburg), Central and East European Moot competition (CEEMC) – EU law (Tbilisi), Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (Jessup Cup) – international law (Washington), International Criminal Court Trial Competition (ICC Trial Competition) – international criminal law (Haag), and the European Human Rights Moot Court Competition – human rights (Strasbourg),
- Elaboration of the concept for the establishment of the University Students' Counselling Centre (In-House Legal Clinic), in which students will, under the oversight of supervisors either from members of the faculty or from experienced legal practitioners, provide legal assistance to clients from the public. The concept of Students’ Legal Counselling Centre is based upon the verified models operating at foreign law schools (inspired primarily by foreign stays at legal clinics in the Czech Republic and USA, Chicago), through which it is possible to effectively link the legal education with the performance of socially beneficial legal aid to marginalized groups of the population. The Legal Counselling Centre leads to the growth of student’s accountability, consistency and understanding of the functioning of the legal system as well as to the adaption of work habits. The Student’s Legal Counselling Centre will be soon established as an integral part of the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University.