WHY STARS?

Skills Transfers in Academia: a Renewed Strategy.
Enhancing Legal Clinics in the European Union.
Erasmus+ Stars brings together 5 universities, from 4 EU countries, in order to enhance and support the legal clinics development

CONTACT INFO

Who are we

We are a consortium, composed by 5 Universities (Luxembourg, Roma Tre, Brescia, Palackeho V Olomouci, Romano-Americana) that have granted the Erasmus Plus Programme (the European Commission's Programme for education, training, youth and sport), which aims to develop innovation in higher education, especially regarding to the innovative teaching methods (i.e. legal clinics).

Our project (which lasts 36 months, from 1-09-2017 to 31-08-2020), named “Skills Transfers In Academia : A Renewed Strategy Enhancing legal clinics in the European Union (STARS) aims to achieve relevant and high quality of students' knowledge, skills and competences, draw up a set of formalized criteria to evaluate legal clinics quality, promote transnational learning, teaching and training activities in the field of consumer law.
The target groups of dissemination activities outside the partnership:
Civil society: Future employers (local), consumers (local), pro bono organizations (local, regional, European), legislatures (local and European).

Legal clinics provide “community service” which is an extension of university expertise to the world outside the university, the community, in the service of improving the quality of life of the community and which is effected through a university model in which community service is integral to all aspects of the university: mission, structure and organization, hiring and promotion, curriculum and teaching, research and publications (the so called third mission of universities).
Our project, bringing together Universities from all over the EU -which already run legal clinics and are willing to reflect on their structure, organisation and methods- has the ambition to develop the presence of legal clinics in most European law schools by providing scientific material on this issue, notably through the creation of a online platform accessible to the public and by disseminating this information as well as the outcomes of the project through other digital canals.
The project will provide newsletters, platforms and database (the database on clinical case outcomes is an innovative product) through which students, researchers and teaching staff may transfer their knowledge and skills for the benefit of their community, while at the same time ensuring their learning, teaching and research activities benefit from real-life cases and interactions in a digital context. In fact, by twinning with partner institutions, universities will share knowledge, innovation and best practices with each other with the goal of teaching law students how to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to real life problems of consumers and partners within civil society.

The STARS project brings together Universities, which already have legal clinics and are willing to reflect on their structure, organisation and methods.
The choices were made on the ground of quality criteria as well as on pre –existing formal and informal partnership (the involved legal clinics are members of the European Network on Clinical Legal Education – ENCLE, the universities of Luxembourg and Rome 3 have already entered a formal partnership to allow exchange of students and best practices). The Romanian American University of Bucharest has expressed its interest in establishing a consumer law clinic, which led it to join the project in order to directly benefit from the outcomes and to participate in the formalization of the methods already existing as the outsider’s standpoint is a very efficient way to improve a project. All STARS partners are already running legal clinics (the Romanian American University of Bucharest has already an experience in the field of clinics, but not a consumer clinic.

Objectives

The model of legal clinic which will be proposed is that of a rigorous service open to the community (consumers in need of legal help) under academic control and within university premises (which increases the credibility of the service). The European Network on Clinical Education (ENCLE) will be closely associated to the project by taking part to conferences and summer schools. ENCLE is committed to achieving justice through education. It aims to bring together persons from different countries, who exchange perspectives and work collaboratively from a variety of legal, educational and organizational settings in order to promote justice and increase the quality of law teaching through Clinical Legal Education (CLE).

Project activities

The STARS project has five goals:

1/ International Conferences
- Opening conference (that took place on 23-24th november in Bucharest and launched and raised awareness of the project involving international experts in the field and the partners from the consortium).
- Closing conference (at the end of the project, a final conference will be held. It will be used to present and evaluate the project results and to further promote cross-border collaboration in clinical education. The conference will last one day. Key speakers will be invited to this conference. The structure of the final conference will match this of the opening one with an plenary session in the morning to present the outcomes of the project and specific sessions in the afternoon devoted to an in-depth analysis of the results achieved)

2/ Creation of a Consumer Law Clinic at the American Romanian University (The establishment of a Consumer Law Clinic at will be facilitated by the participation of the American Romanian University in the project. The legal clinic project will be designed in collaboration with all the consortium partners who will assist the junior clinic at all stages of the process. The junior clinic will rely on the best practices of each partners. The formalization of the process will lead to the publication of a Guideline on the creation of Consumer Legal Clinics on the website of the consortium)

3/ Summer Schools (Four summer schools reproducing the methods applied in the partners clinics open to students from other partner universities and students coming from universities that do not have legal clinics. Not more to 20 students will be admitted in order to have an efficient pedagogical approach as clinical legal education is based upon interactivity. The seminars of these summer schools will be podcasted and take the form of webinars in order to allow a maximum of interested people to attend them. Summer schools will last one week and will be held in each partner university where a consumer law clinic already exists (Brescia, Luxembourg, Olomouc and Rome 3) as the Romanian American University of Bucharest joined the project to benefit form the know how of these universities to establish its Consumer Law clinic. The local Consumer Law Clinics will hold special sessions of their activity allowing students and staff of other universities to participate run in English. Given the high level of harmonization of Consumer Law, students and staff will be able to work on the English version of directives for the purpose of the internationalisation of the activity. These summer schools will encourage participants to become informed on the national transpositions of the European legislation).

4/ Digital activities (First of all, this website, which is created as a platform to showcase the work of the consortium and offer open access to EU consumer rights and consumer rights legal clinic resources. It has been developed to directly address the target groups of the project and will be regularly updated with news, information and project results. All public deliverables are available to download from the website. The online platform uses the Moodle system which was chosen because it offers plugins for different kinds of content, and plugins for all kinds of collaborative activities on which the STARS project consortium will rely. Moodle plateforms are widely used within universities but no specific platform exists for clinics. This platform will therefore be an innovation. The Moodle clinics platform will help in the exchange of good practices by posting documents drafted by the project partners that will be made available to them. It also is a very useful tool for students participating to summer schools in order to download documentation and to upload quality questionnaires and remarks on the STARS projects (all kind of activities that can easily be planned on a Moodle platform. At its first stage, the Moodle Clinics platform is only open to STARS project participants. After the mid report on the project and the eventual adjustments, it will the be open to the European clinics community (150 Clinics approximately)

5/ Quality insurance criteria (These will consist of criteria formalizing the teaching methods and creating performance indicators in the field of legal clinical teaching. The Clinical programme will be submitted to an external quality control. The evaluation will be process by FIBAA Accreditation, an internationally-recognised agency for quality assurance and quality development in higher education. The accreditation process will begin in 2016 to ensure that our programmes meet quality criteria and standards recognised at European and international level in regards to content, processes and outcomes, instruments, and programme documentation. The quality assurance system will be elaborated on a common ground by the Academic staff of partner universities in close collaboration with practitioners involved in the consortium's clinics. Thia means that teaching staff of the partner universities, practitioners participating in legal clinics as well as students attending clinics (through questionnaires) will be involved in the drafting of quality assurance criteria for legal teaching. In particular: common written procedures will be established by the consortium; a monitoring procedure of the students’ work will be developed by clinical staff; procedures for controlling case intake will be formalized, and a means of feedback information to improve the quality of the clinical teaching will be established. "Defect prevention" rules and assignment of responsibility for supervision of the various stages of the quality control program will be defined. In this frame, the collaboration with all the civil society partners will be of high value as clinics will be able to rely on their experience in that field. This output is highly innovative as these criteria do not exist at the European level (tehy formalized in the US but the American system deeply needs to be adapted to the European context as the US legal system hugely differs from those of European continental countries and since the educational context is also completely different on the two continents).


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