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From February 7–8, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a second client counseling competition in Bishkek. Eight universities from Bishkek, Osh and Jalalabad were represented by a two-person team each. Presided over by practicing lawyers, the competition tested the students’ knowledge of key legal procedures and codes, as well as their ability to interview clients and to render legal advice.
Students interview a client, portrayed by a professional actor, in front of a panel of judges.
The Kyrgyz Russian Slavonic University team won first place, while the Kyrgyzstan National University and the American University of Central Asia teams won second and third place, respectively. The event was a follow-on to the first ABA ROLI-hosted client counseling competition, which attracted 13 teams from five Bishkek-based law schools. Participating students said that they will share their experiences with students in their respective universities.
The interactive and engaging competition was organized to give students practical experiences that would enhance the lecture-focused and highly theoretical training they receive in law school. Leading up to the competition, participants worked on developing their practical skills, including by taking newly introduced practical skills courses and by working on real cases at ABA ROLI-supported legal clinics.
Students said that the competition rejuvenated their excitement and inspiration for their future careers. “The competitive atmosphere helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses [in] working with clients,” said Eldair Matmusaev of Osh State University. “So, I will do my best to increase my knowledge and [to] demonstrate better skills.”
In addition to showcasing participants’ professional skills, the competition provides students from different universities and regions an opportunity to network with their peers. It also helps to diffuse the tense relations that ensued from a violent conflict in 2010 and to promote stability and understanding among youth from the southern and northern regions of Kyrgyzstan. Organized in cooperation with the legal clinics of six law schools, the event was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
To learn more about our work in Kyrgyzstan, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.