Twenty students representing 10 Kyrgyzstani universities took part in the country’s fourth annual client counseling competition from February 26–27. Held at the Kyrgyz State Law Academy in Bishkek , the competition was attended by 110 people, including law students and professors, as well as representatives from the Legal Clinics Association of Kyrgyzstan.
Students interview a client during the client counseling competition: contestants were evaluated on both their interviewing skills and the legal advice they provided to the professional actors who played the roles of clients.
In his opening remarks, Michael Greene, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) mission director in Kyrgyzstan, said that client counseling competitions provide an important opportunity for future lawyers to develop their professional skills.
The Legal Clinics Association of the Kyrgyz Republic hosted the competition with support from the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). Six practicing lawyers judged the performances of the students. The competition involved a case related to falsification of property-ownership documents, and contestants were evaluated on both their interviewing skills and the legal advice they provided to the professional actors who played the roles of clients.
In addition to allowing participating students to demonstrate and sharpen their skills, the event also enabled attendees to forge networks across schools. The team from Kyrgyz State Law Academy won first place, with the teams from International University in Central Asia and Kyrgyz National University finishing second and third, respectively. The winning teams received prizes, including a trophy for the first-place winners and certificates and book-store gift cards for all the winning students, while all contestants walked away with certificates of participation. Kerimkulov Marlen, from the Kyrgyz National University team, said, “It seems like this competition takes us to the future; that is, we have felt the profession on our own backs.”
These annual competitions are designed to let students learn more about their strengths as lawyers, as well as the skills they need to improve, as they assume the roles of legal practitioners. ABA ROLI supports the client counseling competitions as part of its USAID-funded program to strengthen Kyrgyzstan’s legal defense community, including by engaging law schools to build the next generation of the country’s lawyers.
To learn more about our work in Kyrgyzstan, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].