Title: Bringing synergies together: the importance of the collaboration between grassroots organizations and legal clinics in the protection against discriminations
Lead Presenter: Andrés Gascón-Cuenca
Session Abstract: One of the main objectives that legal clinical education brings into the university curriculum is a critical legal thinking approach both to the different possibilities people have to access their rights and to the different treatment that a legal system delivers to certain groups of the population. When identifying the areas where a clinic should develop its work, we must have in mind that cases must deal with social or public interest problems, and the clients being people with low incomes that cannot afford their representation (Castro, E. J., 2006; Witker, J., 2007), that are left in the dark by the legal system when it comes to the protection and satisfaction of their rights. Precisely here, is when the first challenge arouses a clinical team: how can we identify and select the ones we will work with, among the vast number of grassroots organizations that work in this field? The enormous impact that, on one hand, the financial crisis, and, on the other hand, the lack of political interest, are both having in the protection of the welfare state, has as a consequence that the assurance of the most basic rights of the disadvantaged groups (such as: long term unemployed people, and specifically women, prisoners, migrants, trafficked persons, among many others), are failing to reach minimum standards guarantees. Here is where the clinical work starts: we need to depart from a clear identification of the sector of the population where the legal clinic is established in order to construct and develop programs and initiatives that seek to strengthen the capacity of agency of these people. So that, we have to define the activities’ goals of the clinic, to well define roles and relationships and to share objectives between the clinics and the organizations in order to achieve the objectives we are trying to attain through the clinical project. Finally, we have to develop interventions concretely suited to address the identified situations and to reach the clinical objectives. In this interactive session, we will share with attending colleagues the programs that the legal clinics of the University of Valencia and the University of Turin are developing when facing the challenge of assisting people in vulnerable situations, and the impact this work has in both the students and the clients.
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