Birzeit University establishes legal clinic, cultivating student professionalism and public service

Birzeit University’s Faculty of Law and Public Administration and the Institute of Law launched a legal clinic on June 6, 2022, in cooperation with the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit through the joint program Sawasya II: Promoting the Rule of Law in Palestine.

The clinic offers the university’s community of law students, academics and researchers the opportunity to provide legal advice and consultation to vulnerable groups in Palestinian society, giving students needed hands-on experience and training while extending the university’s community-engagement efforts in law and legal services.

Attending the launching ceremony were Mahmoud Dodeen, dean of the Faculty of Law and Public Administration, Reem Al-Batmeh, director of the InsThe Institute of Law, and faculty members, students and representatives from human rights organizations and potential partners.

Mohammed Alqaisi, chair of the Department of Law, emphasized in his opening remarks the importance of providing clinical legal education for students to develop their skills in law, engage in practical research and learn research management. The establishment of the clinic, said Alqaisi, would not have been possible without the joint efforts of the university and Sawasya II.

Mamoun Etaili, representing Sawasya, stressed on the importance of building sustainable partnerships with Birzeit University through the clinic to provide quality theoretical and practical education for students. He expressed his pride in the relationship between Sawasya and Birzeit University, built with the support of Sweden, Poland, the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Sarah Barghouthi, clinic assistant and master student at Birzeit University, said that through serving people, the clinic will help improve the justice system and enhance student engagement with their society by providing legal services in underserved communities.

Mohammad Alkhader, legal clinic supervisor, detailed main objectives. Khader pointed out that the clinic will give students a foundation of professionalism by engaging them in public service through partner organizations. Students, according to Khader, will learn to implement laws and regulations and gain exposure to the problems faced by the most vulnerable.

Khader also said that the work in the clinic includes two main subsets: individual cases resolvable through the help of partner legal organizations; and student initiatives implemented through the supervision of the clinic and relevant entities.

Birzeit University and the UNDP signed an agreement on April 1, 2022, to begin integrating and institutionalizing the legal clinic, formalizing the mechanism required for receiving and transferring legal cases and communicating with specialized partners, official bodies and targeted groups.