Helsinki Law Clinic – building bridges between the academic community and real life

Helsinki Law Clinic is a programme that builds bridges between the academic community and real life. It offers students a chance to impact people’s lives by giving legal advice to actual people in actual cases. Working with real clients and socially important themes prepares students for working life in a unique way.

Launched by University of Helsinki Faculty of Law, Helsinki Law Clinic is a new programme and initiative in which law students offer free legal advice to actual people in actual cases. This educationally and socially beneficial project builds bridges between the academic community and real life. But what’s in it for students?

Nadia Tapia, a doctoral student and one of the founders of Helsinki Law Clinic answers:

“Studying at university is typically very theoretical and it is sometimes seen as far removed from real life. Helsinki Law Clinic is a programme with the objective to help students to create a link between the academic community and real life, while helping people: by giving legal advice in actual cases, students acquire valuable practical experience and the clients in turn get legal help. A real win-win situation indeed.

Cases dealing with real social issues

Having opened its doors to clients in February 2016, Helsinki Law Clinic is the first of its kind in Finland. At the core of the Helsinki Law Clinic is the idea of learning by doing while truly having a positive impact on people’s lives.

“In Helsinki Law Clinic, we are genuinely involved with social issues. Our main themes are migration, discrimination and start-ups. Our clients consist of, for example, immigrants and early-stage businesses. We aim to complement – not compete with – the existing legal aid system,” Tapia continues.

Benefits beyond credits

Eligible for the Helsinki Law Clinic are law students in advanced stages of their studies. With the completion of one-semester programme attendance, a student is entitled to a total of ten credits.

“Helsinki Law Clinic is approved as a course by the faculty, but the benefits of attending go way beyond credits. Students gain valuable practical experience by working with real clients and important social themes. As we have voluntary lawyers as mentors helping students with the cases, students will also get a chance to network with professionals in their field. From students’ perspective, this really is a game changer,” Tapia says.

The atmosphere in Helsinki Law Clinic is genuinely international: the working language is English, many of the attendees are international students, and even the organising team is international.

Great opportunities naturally come with responsibilities.

“Working in Helsinki Law Clinic is intensive and thus requires a lot of work. But with high motivation and a willingness to learn, our students have succeeded excellently. Feedback from students has been highly positive,” Tapia comments.

More info: http://www.helsinki.fi/helsinki-law-clinic/

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