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Rule of Law Collaborative Delivers First-of-its-Kind Rule of Law Course

The University of South Carolina’s Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) delivered a groundbreaking Rule of Law Certificate Course to 30 Ukrainian legal and judicial professionals in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Nov. 12-16. The program is the first course of its kind globally – an intensive certificate program on rule of law intended for actors across the judicial sector, explains ROLC Director Joel Samuels, who served as a course instructor.

The success of this program validates our belief that there is extensive interest in rule of law studies for active legal practitioners all over the world"

Joel Samuels, ROLC Director

Applications for the course reached a total of 320. Participants of this year’s class include Ukrainian judges, including the Ukraine Supreme Court; prosecutors; defense attorneys; commercial lawyers; and civil society leaders on human rights and access to justice. 

“The success of this program validates our belief that there is extensive interest in rule of law studies for active legal practitioners all over the world,” points out Samuels. “It demonstrates the impact that our center can have in developing practical skills that enhance the rule of law in sustainable ways.”

The course focuses on topics such as ethics, corruption, human rights, anti-discrimination, and international law. It also covers important professional skills such as client counseling, witness interviewing, negotiation, and mediation. ROLC developed this unique course in conjunction with Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv and plans to work over the next two years to help the Ukrainian faculty develop their skills to deliver this program on their own in the future. The program was funded through the USAID New Justice Ukraine project.

ROLC Senior International Development Expert Steven Austermiller co-taught the course. The goal was to not only teach new concepts but to introduce adult-oriented experiential learning, explains Austermiller. “The participants were extremely engaged with the advanced concepts and our challenge was to facilitate problem solving in ways that they had never experienced,” Austermiller notes.

The course also includes a unique capstone project component where each participant will be tasked with developing a rule of law reform idea, based on their professional experience and lessons from the course, that can be applied in Ukraine. These locally-sourced solutions will be considered in future reform efforts. ROLC will be involved in refining and continuing to deliver the rule of law certificate program in Ukraine for at least one more year and is looking to expand the effort to other countries in the region and beyond.

The second week of training will take place Dec. 10-14, with the course scheduled to be completed in April 2019.