During the Collaborating with Law School Clinics to Assist Refugees workshop at the PILnet 2018 Global Forum, speakers shared best practices and takeaways from proven models of successful collaborations between students from different schools, professional lawyers, and grassroots organizations in Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany. They explored avenues for fostering these partnerships and how corporate lawyers could leverage their specialized expertise in this field.
It is important to engage with the next generation of lawyers on issues of global concern via at law schools clinics, according to moderator Lindsay Ernst, a professor at the University of Hong Kong. In particular, law clinics such as Refugee Law Clinics Deutschland can capitalize on time law students can dedicate to the cause and ensure that services are provided ethically and sustainably under the supervision of corporate lawyers. But while there are many success stories, there is more law school clinics can learn through effective collaboration with each and other professionals, the panel agreed.
Max Oehl, from the Refugee Law Clinics Deutschland, highlighted the importance of regional networks and programs to address a political situation that is Europe-wide. “This can be achieved not just through information sharing but by ‘copying’ working models from one another, which can help spread good practices across jurisdictions,” said Ernst. “Reinventing the wheel each time,” she went on, “wastes time and ignores previous learnings”. Ulrich Stege, from the University of Turin, agreed, emphasizing that local distinctions need to be considered but they should not prevent collaboration. Additionally, partnerships with professional lawyers and grassroot organizations are especially valuable in the area of assisting refugees, where both corporate experience in labor laws and street law is heavily relied upon.
Overall, the panel focused on how to capitalize on law students’ enthusiasm and time effectively and which specific needs corporate law firms could fill. It was a resounding call for continued efforts and energy on the part of law students, corporate law firms, and local organizations to work together to effect change.