Official Opening of Tomorrow’s Lawyer Program

KYIV – 17 February 2017. At the premises of the Governmental House of Receptions an official opening of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program took place, being the first nationwide professional development program for lawyers. Namely, the aim of the program, its implementation methods and the key elements were revealed to the public.

The participants of the program had the opportunity to meet each other and the developers, trainers and experts of the training course and learn about the experience of cooperation between legal communities of Ukraine and Canada in the sphere of professional development.

The moderator of the event was Andriy Vyshnevsky, Head of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program. Greeted the participants the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada in Ukraine Roman Vashchuk, Minister of Justice of Ukraine Pavlo Petrenko, President of the Ukrainian Bar  Association Denys Bugay, Director, Head of the International Development, the Canadian Embassy in Ukraine Karim Morkos, Vice President of the Canadian Bureau for International Education director of the Project “Quality and Accessible Legal Aid in Ukraine” Larissa Bezo, Professional Development Expert of the Canadian Bar Association Sheila Redel, Head of the NGO “Bar Association of Legal Aid Providers” Victoria Mitko.

During the opening ceremony, Andriy Vyshnevsky noted that the availability and engagement of professional, competent and honest representatives of legal profession plays a key role in strengthening the legal aid system in Ukraine. In consequence of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program Ukrainian lawyers will have the opportunity to learn from the best Canadian experience and enhance their professional skills. “We are convinced that this Program will contribute to the strengthening the Rule of Law in Ukraine and justice sector reforms”, noted Andriy Vyshnevsky.

“Canada shares its experience to help you protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups in Ukraine. A viable system of legal aid requires professional and honest lawyers. I hope this training program will facilitate your self-improvement, contribute to the development of the legal community, and thus create a real “tomorrow’s lawyers” society, – said Roman Vashchuk.

In his turn, Pavlo Patrenko noted: “As one philosopher put it, the equality of rights means not only the ability to use them, but that these rights are granted to people from birth. Lawyers are called to protect the rights of each and every person. Legal profession is not only an occupation but a lifestyle as uninteresting characters and sentences of the law are being transformed into vivid communication and the meaning of their lives. Therefore, this event is a unique opportunity to share the experiences”.

“This is the first of a kind large-scale project for the legal community in Ukraine. This is not just a unique platform for professional development, a social and intellectual investment. More than a year of preparatory work, trips to Canada, a week-long session and a number of strategic meetings with colleagues from Canada, the selection board, processing more than 700 applications, interviews with dozens of potential experts and trainers already behind”,- said Denys Bugay.

According to him, the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program is intended to create a horizontal communication between professionals from all regions of the country to unite the progressive minds of the Bar into a strong network, promote reforms at the regional and at state levels. The main criterion of the “tomorrow’s lawyer” is the readiness to become an agent of change and to become a leader of modern times, meet high standards of professional ethics and strong resolution to break the corrupt and illegal practices.

Karim Morkos stressed that trust is extremely important in the justice system in Ukraine. The legal community should help build this trust. The “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” training program will help lawyers to provide legal assistance in accordance with the highest professional and ethical standards. This program will help develop the capacity of lawyers to play a major role in establishing the rule of law and building a fair and accessible justice system in Ukraine.

“At the heart of any professional development program for lawyers above all lies the protection of human rights. This means that lawyers need to understand clients’ needs, and especially – needs of vulnerable groups, because this affects people’s access to justice and the quality of legal aid.  The Project Quality and Accessible Legal Aid in Ukraine” supports the development and implementation of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program”. We need to invest in the development of professional legal community that plays an important role in supporting the sustainable development of the free legal aid system in Ukraine”, – said Larissa Bezo.

According to Sheila Redel, it is extremely important for lawyers to develop the legal assistance skills, including effective communication with various stakeholders, especially clients. Particular attention during the training of lawyers in Canada is paid to ethics because ethical principles directly affect the quality of legal assistance and lawyer’s reputation. This is the cross-cutting topic in the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program. “I am very glad to have the opportunity to share my years of teaching the Canadian lawyers with Ukrainian colleagues. I am happy to work with a wonderful team of the Tomorrow’s Lawyer program”, – said the expert.

“Given the publicity of the profession, which implies the communication within different sectors of society, a lawyer first of all should be a touchstone of dignity and respect for people. We tend to draw into various battles, political games, corporate fights, although being a representative of a peaceful profession, we must be able to build bridges, not walls and barricades. This request from public is thick in the air. To move forward, we need to look in one direction, unite, stay active and friendly, able to negotiate, to be honest and professional. It is necessary to carry on learning, understand that big changes start with each of us”- believes Victoria Mitko.

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The “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program aims to establish a professional community of lawyers who would become the agents of change with high ethical standards, implement reforms at both local and national levels, and will be ready to improve the unified standards of legal aid providing and effectively exercise the powers of the Bar self-government.

The program is being implemented by the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) and the Bar Association of Legal Aid Providers (BALAP) supported by the “Quality and Accessible Legal Aid in Ukraine” (QALA) Project funded by the Government of Canada, implemented by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) in cooperation with the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision.

In January 2017 first 111 participants of “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program were selected from among 707 applicants to carry on four module training in four cities of Ukraine (Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa and Kharkiv). Training starts in Kyiv on 18 February 2017.