“We shouldn’t sit and wait; we must bring changes to the profession” – Expert discussion “Advocacy of the Future: Values and Vision”

On May 30, 2017 Kyiv hosted a professional discussion devoted to the topic “Advocacy of the Future: Values ​​and Vision” within the framework of the first All-Ukrainian Professional Development Program “Tomorrow’s Lawyer”.

The “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” Program is a community of lawyers who have a goal not only to improve their knowledge and soft skills, but also to make changes in favour of the development of a professional community in Ukraine.

During the trainings, within the framework of the Program modules, the participants, together with experts, discussed many issues related to the advocacy as a whole, as well as ways to solve the problematic issues. And since the Program brings together participants from all over Ukraine, it became clear that many challenges and problems were common to all lawyers. It was during discussions on these topics, when sharing opinions on the values ​​of advocacy, the idea came in to combine the efforts of Tomorrow’s Lawyers to develop a common vision and values of the profession.

That is why the Program participants, with the support and participation of experts, developed a draft strategic document and initiated its discussion with a wide range of lawyers – both the Program participants and those who have a strong interest in this matter.

The draft Strategic Document “Tomorrow’s Advocacy”, which was proposed for the discussion, includes four sections:

  1. Understanding the problems of today advocacy;
  2. The vision of the advocacy of the future;
  3. Values ​​of the community effort;
  4. Key directions.

The participants of the discussion were divided into groups, working on the selected issues:

  • The problem of a low barrier for the admission to the profession and its lifting;
  • Positive shift from the corruption environment and the lawyer’s dependence to the integrity and independence;
  • Deformation / restoration of values ​​and deterioration / improvement of the quality of the community;
  • Loss and recovery of the ability to self-cleaning within the profession.

Each group presented its vision on the issue, which will be reflected in the draft strategic document. As a result of the discussion, the participants, along with the experts, will continue to work on its development, discussion and improvement in the wider community of lawyers.

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Participants of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” Program Mrs Valeriya Kolomiets and Mr Oleksiy Kuzminsky, as well as program experts Mr Sergei Goncharenko, Mr Dmytro Kuhnyuk, Mr Alexander Yanovsky, Mrs Olga Zhukovska and Mr Volodymyr Sushchenko spoke on their views on each section of the strategic document.

Mrs Oksana Kikot, Project Manager at the “Affordable and Qualitative Legal Aid in Ukraine”: “Indeed, in the project “Affordable and Qualitative Legal Aid in Ukraine”, from the very beginning of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program, together with partners, we had the vision that this program shall be aimed not only at training 100 lawyers that would improve the quality of their legal assistance.

The program was designed as a platform for the development of a professional network of lawyers from all over Ukraine that are interested in advocacy ethics, access to justice and the development of free legal aid, the introduction of change and the development of the advocacy community as a whole, as playing an important role in establishing the rule of law in Ukraine.

Therefore, it is natural that today’s discussion takes place within the framework of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” Program, and most importantly, it was initiated by the participants of the program and supported by experts. It shows that the Program achieves its goal – to create a professional all-Ukrainian network of leading lawyers, which, above all, are united by common values ​​and wish to build the future of legal profession together. And today’s discussion is just the beginning of the development of the Advocacy of the Future”.

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As the president of the Ukrainian Bar Association Mr Denys Bugay noted in his opening address, this event is unique.

“And this is so for two reasons. Firstly, unfortunately, we – lawyers – have not conducted such deep discussions on the values ​​and future of the law profession over the past years. And secondly, today’s event – this is the start of a very large cause of the future advocacy. We, lawyers, understand the real state of the profession. Why is it so? The first thing that comes to mind is the problem in personalities. But it seems to me that the key issue is that the advocacy of Ukraine, have not formed its vision of the future of the Bar and its development strategy. And I am grateful to the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” community that during the first training module they showed a high level of discussion and became members of the community not only for the sake of training and professional development, but also for building a joint roadmap for advocacy development. Because without this, any training will not be able to address the key issues that are relevant to the profession”, – he emphasized.

“Why are we gathered today? Among us there are many colleagues who have long since answered the question: “I live to eat? Or do I eat to live?” If you interpret this question in the profession of lawyer, then you can ask yourself: “Do I study to become the best in the profession? Am I learning that my profession and our lawyer community could become better?” So I am very glad that today those lawyers who gathered here aim to make and improve the profession, to make our community better. And I very much hope that our discussion today will give an impetus to the development of the entire Bar, provide a general vision and options for the strategic development of the future advocacy”, – said Ms Viktoriya Mitko, Chairman of the Bar Association of Legal Aid Providers.

“When we designed the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” program, it was planned from the outset more than just a training project, or a project for professional development for a number of lawyers. We very much hoped that this initiative would become an event for the legal community that would attract the attention of the widest circles of advocacy community to the values ​​and vision of the future of the Bar and the formation of discourse. I cannot argue, but in my opinion, there are all indications that the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” Program copes with this task, and the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” community is gradually turning into a movement. I would like today’s meeting with you to be perceived as a bridge from the advocate of the future to the advocacy of the future concept. Today’s discussion is just a moment, an opportunity and occasion to think and talk. The main work is actually ahead”, said Mr Andrii Vyshnevsky, Deputy Minister of Justice and Program Leader.

“The advocacy of the future is being born today, on the basis of uniting around the values ​​that true lawyers adhere to. Independence from external influence, high quality of legal assistance, honesty and integrity, openness and responsibility to society are exactly the values ​​of the future Ukrainian Bar, which can restore respect and trust in the profession of lawyer “, – said Deputy Chairman of the Bar Council of Odessa region, expert of the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” Program Mr Andriy Kostin.


“From the tomorrow’s lawyer to the tomorrow’s advocacy” – this slogan should become a guideline for those colleagues who seek not only self-improvement and professional development but also realize the important social role of advocacy in a democratic society, the protection of human rights, the administration of justice and sincerely wish for  qualitative changes in the professional environment based on common values, generally accepted professional standards and ethical norms”, – said Mr Dmytro Kuhnyuk, the program expert, Managing Partner of Melnyk, Kuhnyuk & Partners.

“Advocacy should be primarily independent, otherwise its mission is to nullify. In the early 90’s we managed to win the independence of the legal profession. But very soon the state reacted to it and the frantic oppression began – in the sense of taxation, violation of the professional rights of lawyers. Hence we have the desire to unite, to build a self-governing structure, to strengthen the advocacy. Did it work? I can recall the lines of Victor Tsoy “Changes! Our Hearts Demand!” But is it enough to quote the last lines of the song and “wait for change”? It seems that our members are tailored not just to wait, but to make these changes. That’s how their heartbeat sounds. They are able to act! I sincerely see in the “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” a platform that could be the start of these “anticipated changes”, – assured the program expert, Vice President of the Union of Advocates of Ukraine Ms Olga Zhukovskaya.

“Following the Ukrainian Revolution, the requirements for providing high-quality legal assistance have increased significantly. It is impossible to provide such assistance without strengthening the authority of the legal profession, since presently the cases of identification of lawyers with their clients are widely spread.

The reason behind this is the general state of justice in the country, as well as the negative processes that, unfortunately, occur in the organs of the Bar self-government. Due to the certain risks, such processes remain without proper evaluation of many lawyers and public organizations. Therefore, I urge lawyers and non-governmental organizations representing lawyers not to be afraid to publicly express their attitude to the main processes that affect the state of justice (for example, conducting a competition to the Supreme Court, resonant decisions of the organs of the advocate’s self-government), and be agents of positive changes in society”, – a program participant Mr Vitaly Nakonechny quoted as saying.

“There is no worse enemy than indifference. It’s faithful satellites: inertia, lack of interest, lack of initiative, and banal fear – completely paralyze and block the onset of real qualitative changes in our professional community. In my opinion, often this situation is dictated by not so much “criminal intent” of colleagues, as a feeling of lack of unity and consolidation within the advocate’s own. Today’s event, for me, once again proved that I should not be afraid to express my thoughts regarding the problems and their solution, the mission and the role of our community in society and other issues of equal importance to us. Moreover, this must be done.

After all, it is only through the freedom to express our ideas, to bring together like-minded people and to build a constructive dialogue with our opponents we will have the opportunity to build a strong and independent legal profession. Particularly valuable today was the support, mentoring and oversight of our more experienced colleagues, who not only doubled precious time and knowledge. They also teach us to look at our profession as a vocation that has a history, mission, and a solid canvas of values, continued by all “young” lawyers”, – emphasized Ms Valeriya Kolomiyets, a member of the Program.

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The “Tomorrow’s Lawyer” 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 Centre for Legal Aid Provision.

“Tomorrow’s Lawyer” Program — first All-Ukrainian professional development program for lawyers, intended to form a strong and active community of lawyers who are expected to become the agents of change with high ethical standards of work; introduce reforms, both at the regional and national levels; improve standards of legal aid providing and facilitate the effective implementation of self-government functions.

The Program consists of four training modules, covering the most important aspects of legal practice, namely attorney-client relations, building collateral relations in the justice system, communication within the legal society, public relations and media.

Published in Ukrainian by Zakon & Business Newspaper