The Problems and Prospects for Pro Bono in Ukraine


As part of the events linked with the Nationwide Legal Aid Day on 23 May 2013, a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday looked at issues and prospects for the development of pro bono in Ukraine.

During the press conference Mykola Sioma, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation introduced the new website “Pro Bono Exchange”; outlined the Foundation’s main tasks for 2013; and explained that Ukrainians would be able to receive free legal assistance on 23 May – Legal Aid Day in all regions of Ukraine.

“The main tasks of the Foundation at the present time are: developing and promoting the spread of the best practice in providing professional free assistance based on equal legal opportunities in defending citizens’ rights and legitimate interests; ensuring accessibility of legal aid both from the point of view of territorial accessibility and in terms of simplicity of the procedure for receiving it; carrying out legal awareness work in order to improve people’s capacity for defending their rights; as well as to develop systematic dialogue between the main partners in the sphere of provision of free legal aid”.

Mykola Sioma also spoke about the Pro Bono Exchange website launched at the beginning of May.  “During this short period of time around 10 strategic litigations of people awaiting help from advocates have been posted”.

The Programme Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Maxim Shcherbatyuk gave examples of strategic litigations which UHHRU is presently engaged in. “We are inviting Ukrainian law firms to become involved in these cases which are of public interest and important for the development and reform of the Ukrainian legal system and court practice. Cooperation between human rights groups and law firms is an effective tool in resolving systematic problems in the sphere of human rights protection in Ukraine”.

“Pro bono law firm is the most important component of our view of social responsibility. A successful law firm cannot fail to consider those who are unable to afford high-quality legal defence. By helping such people we strengthen law and order and make our contribution to the development of a civilized society. Our activities in this direction are focused on defence of human rights”, Ivan Lishchyna, Senor Lawyer of the law firm Astapov Lawyers in charge of human rights cases explains. During the press conference Ivan Lishchyna gave several examples of strategic litigations which Astapov Lawyers is engaged in as part of their pro bono policy.

The Nationwide Legal Aid Day will take place on 23 May in Kyiv and other Ukrainian citizens.  On that day lawyers will provide professional legal aid to those who most need it –  people on low incomes; civic, charitable and other non-profit-making organizations; as well as small business owners. 

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