EU Project "Pravo-Justice" discussed implementing mediation competence with law schools
On June 24, EU Project "Pravo-Justice" national experts presented draft Guidelines for implementing mediation competence under the Standard of Higher Education of the second (master's) level as to qualification 081 Law for discussion. Among the participants there were representatives of law schools in Lviv, Chernivtsi, Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, who are members of the Regional Justice Reform Councils (RJRC).
In her introductory remarks, Oksana Tsymbrivska, Key National Expert of EU Project "Pravo-Justice" stressed that previous discussions with law schools revealed a lack of common understanding as to mediation competence and its implementation: "Via expert recommendations, we seek to improve understanding this competence and facilitate working out a unified approach how it is taught in law schools".
Dovydas Vitkauskas, EU Project "Pravo-Justice" Team Leader welcomed the fact that mediation is included in law school curricula under the Ministry of Education Standard, which states that the graduate's competencies include "the ability to use mediation and other legal instruments for alternative dispute resolution". At the same time, he noted that a distinction should be made between shaping knowledge and skills to use mediation and training mediators: “It is essential to understand that a graduate does not automatically become a mediator. He/she should gain basic knowledge as to this type of dispute resolution so that to give informed advice to clients and litigants later on.”
Andrii Boiko, Chair of Subcommission "Law" of Scientific and Methodological Council of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, expert of EU Project "Pravo-Justice" told in detail about the peculiarities of shaping competencies, skills and abilities in mediation that a student should have under the Standard.
Among other things, the mediation curriculum should:
- be integrated with curricula in certain areas of both substantive and procedural law;
- be based on knowledge of other fields: psychology, sociology, culturology, etc.;
- be methodologically consistent with shaping other general and special competencies provided by the Standard;
- provide for practical training.
"Active introduction of mediation in curricula will undoubtedly contribute to making sure that the culture of mediation, the necessary knowledge and practical skills are utilized by lawyers in their professional activities," said Andrii Boiko.
“The recommendations drafted are really helpful for law schools from a practical perspective. […] We need to actively "bottom-up" shape mediation culture, consolidate efforts and as much as possible promote even a little practical experience in teaching mediation and its implementation," emphasized Petro Patsurkivskyi, Dean of Legal Department, Doctor Habilitatus, Professor of Public Law Department at Chernivtsi Yurii Fedkovych National University, representative of Chernivtsi RJRC.
Volodymyr Rodchenko, Doctor of Economics, Professor, Deputy Director of the Karazin Business School of Kharkiv National Karazin University, national expert of EU Project "Pravo-Justice" presented recommendations as to arranging teaching mediation. In particular, experts suggest that curricula include a separate compulsory course in mediation of at least three ECTS credits, as well as interactive teaching methods be used, such as combining mini-lectures, small group discussions, case studies, facilitations, brainstorming, etc.
"One of the key ideas in arranging the studying process is to focus on practical training, on understanding what the process is and how it can coexist with traditional adversarial model of dispute resolution," said Volodymyr Rodchenko.
Larysa Nalyvaiko, Doctor Habilitatus, Professor, Vice-Rector of Dnipro State University of Internal Affairs, Honored Lawyer of Ukraine and representative of Dnipro RJRC stressed how important it is to provide practical training for students and professors themselves, as well as that it is necessary to involve as many higher education institutions as possible in exchanging experience: "It is necessary to change the low culture of mediation in Ukraine. This is a completely new format of thinking, so these changes need to be disseminated through information activities carried out by the EU Project."
Nelli Holubieva, Doctor Habilitatus, Professor, Head of the Department of Civil Procedure of "Odesa Law Academy" National University, Honored Lawyer of Ukraine and representative of Odesa RJRC supported that it is important to have a separate discipline on mediation: "This is a course not only about law and conflict resolution, it is bringing up our students – lawyers-to-be."
"More and more legal professions tend to use mediation. Therefore, we must strive for this to be not a voluntary, but a compulsory discipline so that any law student can gain basic knowledge of such an opportunity”, added Alina Serhieva, lawyer, mediator, EU Project "Pravo-Justice" national expert.
Finally, Oksana Tsymbrivska assured the participants that EU Project "Pravo-Justice" will continue to support various areas of introducing mediation in Ukraine. In addition to legal education, the Project is also working to identify categories of cases in which mediation can be used.
In 2020, EU Project "Pravo-Justice" carried out an in-depth analysis of legislative and institutional gaps in implementing mediation in Ukraine in various areas of law. Based on this analysis, there were determined strategic goals and directions for developing mediation in Ukraine. In particular, international and national experts recommended making mediation an integral part of legal education.
Regional Justice Reform Councils (RJRCs) have been established with support of EU Project "Pravo-Justice" and function in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa regions and Donbas. To date, Councils members have been actively participating in drafting a bill on mediation, amendments to the Bankruptcy Code, proposals to improve legislation on enforcement proceedings, introducing e-court and discussing the concept of transitional justice.
RJRCs act as permanent working groups to promote bottom-up reforms: bringing region-specific challenges and potential solutions thereof to the level of central government.