TradeLab, legal clinics with a view to the world
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TradeLab, legal clinics with a view to the world

BOCCONI LAUNCHED A PILOT PROJECT WITH TRADELAB, A GENEVA BASED NGO THAT BRINGS TOGETHER STUDENTS AND ACADEMICS FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE TO PROVIDE PRO BONO LEGAL ASSISTANCE TO STATES, NGOS, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, AND SMES (SMALL AND MEDIUMSIZED ENTITIES) ON ISSUES OF INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT AND TRADE LAW. THIS SEMESTER, EIGHT BOCCONI LAW STUDENTS HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN 2 PRO BONO PROJECTS

Legal clinics are a widespread institution in English and American law schools, and increasingly in Europe. Bocconi boasts a large Legal Clinic program, coordinated by Associate Professor of Law Melissa Miedico. The program includes distinct programs, including a counseling desk in the Bollate prison, a desk at the Off Campus space in the San Siro district of Milan, and legal advice for start-ups as part of Bocconi for Innovation.
The reason for the success of legal clinics lies mainly in the opportunity for students to get a first-hand experience  with real legal situations: "The concept of 'learning by doing' is very important,”explains Catherine Rogers, Full Professor at the Department of Legal Studies, Bocconi University, "because students apply what they have learned in the classroom in the field on a pro bono basis to help clients who are unable to pay for legal counsel.”

And this is true both for national and international contexts, as is the case with TradeLab, which brings together students, academics and law professionals from various universities of the world. TradeLab puts them in contact with public officials, especially of developing countries, small and medium-sized enterprises and civil society associations to provide them with legal advice and support on negotiations, compliance and disputes.
“The legal clinics are made up of small groups of highly qualified and carefully selected students,” says Catherine Rogers, “who work on specific legal issues raised by beneficiaries. Students are organzized in working groups under the close supervision of one or more professors (academic supervisors) and are also joined by experts (mentors) from law firms, national and international organizations, and academics, who lend their knowledge, time and feedback pro bono to students”.

With mutual advantages for all: the beneficiaries get expert work for free; students learn by doing, earn academic credit, expand their network, and have the opportunity to work on real legal issues raised by beneficiaries; the faculty and expert mentors share their knowledge on cutting-edge issues and are able to attract or hire the best students with proven skills.

Currently, within the TradeLab pilot project, Bocconi Law School is present with eight students (Francesco Gravina, Iole Maria Garufi, Chrysi Apostolu, Francesca Colotta, Edris Said Zewari, Ralitsa Tsvetkova, Camille Bayle, Pauline Bourgeonnier Cesari), divided into two teams of four, working for two high profile projects for experienced beneficiaries: "The first project is with the foreign ministry of Bosnia-Herzegovina," Rogers says, "concerning international investments treaties and European Union investment policy”. Students will work directly with Ms. Samira Sulejmanovic, the Head of Department for Bilateral Trade Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Bosnia and Herzegovina. The second project is with the Nairobi Center for International Arbitration regarding potential policy implications of proposed legal reforms regarding how legal cases are funded, which may make the Centre, Nairobi, and Kenyan lawyers more competitive in global arbitration and legal markets.” Through both these projects, students can do well for themselves by doing good for others.

by Davide Ripamonti

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