The opening of Yerevan’s first pro bono legal clinic proved worthy of celebration on September 2, with representatives from the Armenian government and judicial system, law schools, nongovernmental organizations, international donor institutions and the media in attendance. The clinic, which is housed at Open University’s law school, will provide free legal services to economically and socially vulnerable groups in Armenian society. Outreach efforts will focus on connecting with refugees and with victims of political violence.
The impact of the clinic will be felt broadly. While helping to resolve legal matters for needy clients, the clinic will also offer a benefit to Open University’s law students. The students will hone their practical legal skills by working on clinic cases under the supervision of licensed attorneys, better preparing them for their legal careers. The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is providing technical assistance to the clinic, including offering training and seminars for the legal clinicians and for law students. The clinic is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
At the opening event, Judge Vladimir Hovhannisyan of the Constitutional Court of Armenia joined ABA ROLI country director Kregg Halsted, USAID representative Bella Markarian and UNHCR representative Bushra Halepota in addressing attendees. Anahit Harutyunyan, the rector of Open University, thanked each organization for their technical and financial assistance in establishing the legal clinic.