ЕВА-Аsters Legal School is a unique free of charge platform for Ukrainian legal practitioners to share their experience and best practices in legal support and protection of business.
FULL COMPANY NAME. SHORT COMPANY NAME: Аsters Law Firm. Аsters
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL OF THE PROJECT: The business case is applied within the CSR and Pro Bono contest for law firms.
Asters is a full-service independent national law firm. With over 20 years of experience we have one of the longest track records on the country’s legal market. Fourteen partners lead a 120-strong staff with 70 lawyers making us one of the largest firms in Ukraine. The Firm provides legal services to large international organizations, public agencies and key transnational and Ukrainian companies, operating in various business sectors.
Asters has been acknowledged as the Law Firm of the Decade by Ukraine’s Legal Awards 2016 and is also named No.1 law firm in Ukraine according to the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Top 50 Law Firms Annual National Ranking. Learn more at the Firm’s web-site www.asterslaw.com
PROBLEM SITUATION DESCRIPTION
Despite a large number of law universities in Ukraine, the problem of quality of the legal education remains topical. The courses of the Ukrainian law universities are mainly theoretical and do not meet real business needs. Consequently, many lawyers in the market do not possess sufficient and appropriate skills and experience to solve real legal problems arising in the everyday activity. In addition, Ukrainian legislation has a vast range of legal nuances that are very specific and are not clarified either in literature or in specialized publications.
On the other hand, lawyers of the leading law firms possess the required experience and skills and have successfully completed numerous high-profile projects. The main obstacle for sharing the important information with colleagues in the market was the lack of a unified platform for holding lectures and master classes on a regular basis. This situation caused a large demand for high quality educational programs among the representatives of the Ukrainian legal community.
SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM SITUATION
In 2013 Asters law firm initiated the founding of the Legal School in Kyiv. The project is implemented in partnership with the European Business Association (premier organization for foreign business in Ukraine, which brings together approximately 900 European, Ukrainian and international companies); since we are aware that such support allows involving more participants into the initiative.
EBA-Asters Legal School program is aimed at forming fundamentally new legal skills both for lawyers practicing in the legal support and protection of business, as well as for managers with appropriate education. The structure and content of the Legal School’s program is primarily aimed at advancing knowledge of the professionals with integrated legal skills practicing law in their particular fields.
In September-December 2016 the eighth season of EBA-Asters Legal School took place in the office of Asters Law Firm in Kyiv. The legal course lasted 2.5 months and included 6 modules delivered twice a month providing students with an opportunity to learn the peculiarities of the deoffshorisation and credit law; gain professional skills and qualifications in competition law and tax disputes; discover aspects of intellectual property rights protection and enhance experience in memo writing.
At first, the School’s speakers included only Asters partners and associates who delivered lectures to the EBA members, in particular legal practitioners, in-house lawyers and managers wishing to improve their legal awareness or further enhance their legal knowledge. The success of the first seasons of the Legal School prompted us to expand the Legal School speakers’ panel by in-house lawyers of the largest local and international companies, representatives of judicial and legislative bodies, as well as foreign experts.
“I am truly happy that in the 7th and 8th seasons we succeeded to involve as speakers of the Legal School not only experienced Asters’ partners and associates and prominent experts from the leading companies in Ukraine, but also a member of parliament, judges and a managing partner of a foreign law firm. I am sure that with such a strong team EBA-Asters Legal School will help its students to extend horizons of their practical expertise and get new insight into solving legal problems “, – comments Victoria Yesaulenko, Marketing Director at Аsters Law Firm and the initiator of founding of the Legal School.
In addition to the participation of Asters’ lawyers as speakers, the Firm also provides organizational support to the project. The Legal School classes take place in the office of Asters, located in the heart of Kyiv, allowing participants to reach the location easily.
Mechanism of a dialogue with stakeholders
Asters coordinates the event and provides the information support of the project. The Legal School’s news can be found on the official websites of Asters and European Business Association. Also, to communicate with the existing and potential participants of the Legal School the project page on Facebook has been created. We constantly update the content of this page. Being followed by more than 400 participants the project’s FB page has already become a real interactive communication platform for Ukrainian lawyers. Moreover, the video reports on the Legal School’s lectures are available on the dedicated Youtube channel, while the module materials are published via the project’s Slideshare page.
With all these tools we support the dialogue with our stakeholders. Based on their feedbacks we keep improving our Legal School. Additionally, the information about the initiative is spread via specialized legal media, in particular through one of the most popular legal resources – Yurydychna Gazeta (Legal Newspaper).
RESULTS OF THE PROJECT
For 3 years EBA-Asters Legal School has been proving the relevance and feasibility of the project as the only regular and free platform for the experience exchange among lawyers in Ukraine.
With each new season the number of participants wishing to attend the Legal School increases. Overall, within the past eight seasons classes in the Legal School were attended by over 1000 participants. The attendees are satisfied with the classes in Legal School and give us a positive feedback.
“I like attending of the School a lot! During the lectures I get extremely interesting and important information”, – comments Natalia Chudovska, Lawyer at Lifecell LLC.
Nasos Kyriakides, Managing Partner of Nasos A. Kyriakides & Partners LLC and one of the Legal School speakers, points out: “The increasing competition forces lawyers all over the world to keep learning all the time, enhancing their legal knowledge. It is my great pleasure to support EBA-Asters Legal School – an educational initiative, aimed at incentivizing the professional development of Ukrainian legal specialists.”
The Project’s impact on the society
In addition to the primary goal of the classes – to obtain the new knowledge and skills, the Legal School has become the communication platform for lawyers from different companies operating in Ukraine. Thus, in addition to the contribution to the increase of legal awareness, the Legal School also helps to unite and develop the legal community in Ukraine.
Founding and supporting of the Legal School enables Asters to complete one of the Firm’s business goals – to confirm its reputation as one of the leaders of the legal market of Ukraine and to positively influence on the company’s image. In addition, this project improves Asters’ employer brand and allows to clearly demonstrate the highest level of expertise of the Asters’ lawyers.
While launching and supporting the project we were impressed with how popular the idea of Legal School became in the Ukrainian legal market. Of particular note is the fact that despite previously planned educational purpose the Legal School has also become a platform for dialogue between representatives of the legal community.
Useful insights for CSR projects of other companies
Among the positive lessons of the project there should be noted that the involvement of the European Business Association as a partner of the initiative was a very good idea, since it made possible to use the resources of this powerful business association for the coordination and promotion of the Legal School and involvement of participants. This approach can be useful for other CSR projects in Ukraine.
The Project’s progress in 2016 and its further prospects
In 2016 foreign experts joined the speakers’ panel of the project so the Legal School reached the international level. The number of the lectures’ attendees increased immensely as well as the number of lawyers from all over Ukraine watching the video reports of the lessons online and downloading the modules’ materials. For instance, the Facebook community of the project grew four times. Taking into account the increasing popularity of online education, the future development of the project might be involving even more active usage of the innovative technologies. Thus, the Project’s development will contribute to the achievement of the goal #4 of The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely – to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.