Legal Education Reform
Reforming legal education was a key component of the ABA's activities in Belarus, where the system emphasizes memorization over practical skills. These efforts focused on assisting students in developing practical skills that are critical to success as a lawyer. To that end, the ABA supported several mock trial programs to give students experience with court room procedures. The ABA, in partnership with local organizations, developed a nationwide Olympiad for law students from universities across Belarus. The ABA also facilitated Belarus' participation in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, coordinated by the International Law Students Association. Through participation in the competition, the students received an intensive, one-year practicum in legal research, writing, editing and oral advocacy.
Public Legal Education
The ABA also conducted a variety of activities to educate the public on different aspects of the law. These efforts included work on the issue of short-term employment contracts for all workers, which enabled the government to pressure employers not to renew contracts for people who are active in the opposition movement. The ABA conducted seminars throughout Belarus to raise public awareness about the contracts and trained lawyers to better address these situations.
Legal Profession Development
The American Bar Association encouraged the legal profession in Belarus to engage in proactive public advocacy and professional networking. The ABA created forums for dialogue on issues affecting the profession, including independence and regulation of the legal profession, legal ethics, pro bono legal services and public interest legal advocacy. The ABA also provided training to lawyers on substantive law and legal advocacy skills to enhance grassroots pro bono legal advocacy initiatives. Institution and capacity building assistance was also provided to local legal organizations.