Uzbek Law School Delegation Learns About Virginia's Clinics

November 25, 2003

Leaders from Tashkent State Law Institute (TSLI) and Namangan State University in Uzbekistan got a crash course in how the Law School runs its clinics during a legal education study tour sponsored by the American Bar Association's Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI) Nov. 20. The delegation met with faculty, clinic directors, Legal Aid Justice Center lawyers, and clinical students as part of a multi-university tour that included stops at NYU, American University, Columbia, Georgetown University, and Yale, among others.

Hurwitz and Rustambaev
Deena Hurwitz greets TSLI Rector Mirzayusup Rustambaev as members of the delegation and law professors look on. Below, Dean Jeffries accepts a traditional Uzbek figurine from Rustambaev.
Jeffries and Rustambaev

“We gave them a full day presentation of all of U.Va.'s clinical programs,” said Human Rights Program and clinic director Deena Hurwitz, who helped organize the visit. “They wanted to get a feel for how clinical programs function at U.S. law schools.”

TSLI established its own human rights clinic in fall 2002, in partnership with CEELI, using a three-year $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Since the opening of the clinic, the first of its kind in Central Asia, about 17 students and 11 staff members have handled 130 cases. According to CEELI, the State Department has asked TSLI to establish a similar clinic at their satellite law school, Namangan State University, in 2004.

At TSLI, as in European law schools, the law degree is offered as an undergraduate degree. Unlike the Law School 's International Human Rights Clinic, TSLI clinical students handle individual clients and cases, and Uzbekistan's legal system allows them to bring international human rights cases to domestic courts.

In addition to offering information on clinic administration, Law School faculty presented on the school's Principles & Practice offerings, classes that are team-taught by a legal practitioner and a professor, and other courses directly related to the Law School's clinics, such as International Human Rights Law.

The visiting officials included TSLI Rector Mirzayusup Rustambaev, Yuldashali Rahimov, Dean of the Law Faculty at Namangan State University, and Malika Inakova, lecturer at the Human Rights Clinic and a law professor at TSLI. The delegates posed questions ranging from what prerequisites are required of students who want to take a clinic to what kinds of clients Virginia's clinics serve.

Students also got a glimpse of the developing legal sector in the former Soviet territory.

“The thing that I found interesting about [TSLI's] program was that it was long term, sometimes lasting two years for a particular student,” said third-year law student Molly Powell, a representative for the Refugee Law Clinic who spoke with the delegation. “It seemed from their description that students who participate are very likely to find jobs in that particular practice area or even in the same organization for which they acted as a clinic clerk. To me—as a third-year still searching for a job [in public service]—that sounds very attractive.”

Hurwitz said the delegation expressed interest in having some of their law students attend the Law School as LL.M.s, and also in exploring the possibilities for academic exchange or other kinds of inter-school cooperation.

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