Access to Justice W&L Law Practicum Visits Albania and France

Access to Justice class

Third year law students Jacob Ventura, Alexander Miltenberger, Boris Bindman and Karen Jacobsen (pictured L to R) along with Professor Speedy Rice culminated the 2016 spring semester Access to Justice practicum by presenting their work at the Legal Clinic at University of Tirana School of Law in Tirana, Albania and attending a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Below, the students describe their work in promoting access to justice internationally.

"Today there is a global crisis in access to justice and the poorest marginalized people are the most likely to suffer the consequences. Lack of access to justice has far reaching affects for the individuals, their families and society as a whole." -Garcia Mortitán, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN

The Access to Justice practicum at W&L Law involves student participation in the study of international law and declarations as well as the promotion of human rights through access to justice issues. These issues include but are not limited to legal aid access, pretrial detention issues, violations of internationally recognized human rights and anti-corruption.

Third-year students Boris Bindman, Karen Jacobsen, Alexander Miltenberger, and Jacob Ventura participated in a semester-long collaborative effort with students at the University of Tirana School of Law on community outreach projects for the promotion of access to justice in Albania. These joint class sessions conducted over web conferencing were rooted in the universal understanding of human rights and access to justice issues as outlined in various international agreements including the UNDOC and the Doha Declaration. Discussions also included recommendations for improving legal aid access to people of limited means as well as educating people about their legal rights from the arrest phase to detention and trial.  

Additionally, W&L Law students with the assistance of their Professor, Speedy Rice, drafted and submitted to several member states a U.N. draft resolution that seeks to establish a worldwide virtual network to assist in connecting public defenders and legal aid providers from countries across the globe. Acceptance of the resolution will promote building communications among attorneys from different countries with the goal of providing a network of resources from their prospective countries such as expertise, public records, and legal aid contacts in order to improve legal aid access and reduce unnecessary pretrial detention.

The W&L students culminated their semester with the visit to Tirana, Albania to present their work to students and faculty of the University of Tirana School of Law. Presentations included community training on access to justice issues, the American jury system and the American electoral system.    

Boris Presents
Third year student Boris Bindman presents his work on the American jury system to law students at University of Tirana School of Law in Tirana, Albania.

The students also had an opportunity to interview several juvenile prisoners in Albania on their sentencing, access to legal aid as well as issues of bribery in the criminal justice system. While in Albania, students also met with various judges, prosecutors, and other government officials to discuss barriers to access to justice including corruption.  

The trip concluded with a visit to Strasbourg, France at the European Court of Human Rights where W&L students had an opportunity to attend a hearing and meet with judges on issues of anti-corruption and access to justice.

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(Above) Professor Speedy Rice and third year law students meeting with the Chief Judge at the Albanian Appeals Tribunal. Students had an opportunity to discuss issues relating to access to justice in Albania with several judges at the tribunal.

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(Above) Students and professors from W&L Law and University of Tirana School of Law pictured in their moot court room. Students from both schools had an opportunity to present their work related to access to justice issues, prison conditions, as well as the American jury and electoral system.