The Bar Council of Ukraine has revised the rules for improving the qualifications of advocates. The reason was the educational activities, the quality of which did not meet the expectations of the participants. In order to provide advocates with the opportunity to improve their qualifications in an appropriate manner, and to simplify the procedure for accruing points and reporting to self-governing bodies, the BCU approved a new version of the Procedure for the Professional Development of Advocates of Ukraine. Valentin GVOZDIY, deputy head of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, the Bar Council of Ukraine, managing partner of GOLAW law firm, told about the prospects, which experts expect to have in the light of the new rules.
Deputy Head of UNBA, DCU Valentyn Gvozdii: "We expect that the new rules will change the quality of the offer on the market, where the content and the names of the events often do not coincide"
"Advocates are exempted from the obligation of annual reporting to self-government bodies on advanced training"
- The decision of the BCU №20 approved a new version of the Procedure for the Professional Development of Advocates of Ukraine. What are the fundamental differences of this edition from the previous one?
- The new procedure for the advocates' professional training, which was adopted in February 2019, and came into force on April 1, 2019, introduces a fundamentally new system for advocates as well as for law-enforcement bodies and organizations that have the right and opportunity to organize educational activities. I can without exaggeration call this document one of the systematic bar reforms that has taken place since the adoption of the relevant law in 2012 and fully complies with its provisions and professional challenges, which imposes the exclusive right of advocates to represent the court. Strategically, this step demonstrates that the bar is capable of reforming itself and adapting to new conditions without requiring any legislative changes.
The most recent order was the principle of building a system of advanced training. New roles are introduced - the Administrator of the Professional Development Process, which is the Higher School of Advocacy, and the operator, which has all the organs of the bar self-government bodies and any third parties accredited by the Administrator. In order to obtain the status of a third-party operator, the applicants must undergo the accreditation process in the HSA. The Legal Aid Coordination Center, due to its social purpose, is accredited without paying the organizational and administrative contribution. Commercial market participants who express a desire to upgrade their advocates' qualifications pay such a contribution.
- But there are fundamental changes, which the advocates should pay attention to?
Advocates are exempted from the obligation of annual reporting to the bar self-government bodies on the improvement of professional skills. Thus, the points accrued for participation in educational events will be generated electronically and will be made to the SRAU on the basis of generalized information for the reporting year.
Given the huge number of innovations contained in this document, the current year is a transitional one. The order itself begins to run from 1.04.2019. The decision of BCU №20 stipulates that all measures accredited by the Expert Council on Accreditation and Certification, for the professional development at the UNBA, according to the previously existing procedure, which are planned by the bar self-government bodies until July 1, 2019, may be carried out, but received by advocates by credit scores, certificates and other documents proving the improvement of their qualifications gained before 1 July 2019 are counted as qualification improvement for the relevant period.
"Young advocates devote much more time to attending events, forums, conferences"
- What did the developers of the order repulsed, determining the number of hours each lawyer should devote to the qualification?
- The number of hours that need to be devoted to raising the level of skills during the year has not changed - 10 (1 point equals to 1 hour of training). At the same time, demands for young advocates have been raised. Those who are only the first year in the profession, need to undergo a modular program "Young Advocate". Advocates in the first 3 years of practice need to receive 16 points each year. Due to the dynamics of changes in legislation, it is impossible to be a competitive professional without a constant updating of knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the processes that affect law practice. As the experience of previous years has shown, young advocates devote much more time to attending events, forums, conferences, etc.
- How to bill the required number of hours? The event time should be indicated on the certificate?
- The order specifies that at least two points must be obtained for training on the rules of law ethics and professional standards. Traditionally, this topic is covered in seminars held by regional bar councils with the involvement of members of the local Qualifications and Disciplinary Bar Committees and UNBA Committee on Bar Ethics, and the heads of the High Qualifications Bar Commission. Such events are held both in the regions and in the HSA in Kyiv, including in the format of webinars. The number of points has always been noted in the certificate, this standard is saved.
Half of the annual number of points should be from participation in activities carried out by operators of professional development in Ukraine. That is at least 5 or 8 points, it all depends on the experience.
"Training in professional programs does not include examinations"
- Didn’t the advocates opposed the requirement to undergo the program "Young Advocate", since they took the exam at the time of obtaining the certificate and had an internship?
A modular program for young advocates is mandatory. And I do not see any ground for resistance, because it is an additional opportunity to get practical knowledge and refine skills. There is a demand among young people for quality education. It was after introducing obligatory courses for advocates assistants, trainees and we received a lot of requests for the creation of educational products that would help to better adapt to the new profession. I am convinced that the modular program of the HSA will be of high quality and interesting.
I want to emphasize that training in professional programs does not include examinations. Modules can contain tools for securing the knowledge gained and no more. No ratings will be issued as such. Courses will be held with the involvement of teachers and leaders of any legal practice. Let me remind you that the constant advancement of qualifications is its duty all over the world. Ukraine is no exception. The law introduces the disciplinary liability of advocates for non-refreshed training.
- For other advocates, the time for advanced training will be 10 hours per year. How the problem of attendance will be solved, since a large number of advocates work in small cities, which do not go through enough activities. Will local actors undertake such initiatives to initiate a sufficient number of them? Will there be online events? Will there be enough on-line activities for 16 or 10 years?
- I do not think that the new rules will significantly affect the reduction of the supply in the market of educational services and projects for advocates. That is, the free choice of the type of advanced training (and not only seminars, trainings, etc.) and the region where the events take place are secured, and such a right will be provided to advocates. At present, the format of webinars, on-line courses, on-line broadcasts is actively developing in the HSA, which generally removes the problem of transferring knowledge to the regions.
The information on these events is built quite effectively and includes sites, addressing, social networks.
I repeat: half of the annual number of points should provide for participation in the activities carried out by operators of professional development in Ukraine. Other points can be obtained by publishing scientific or scientific-practical articles in printed or electronic professional and other professional editions in Ukraine and abroad, the publication of monographs, textbooks, manuals, etc. That is, provided quite diverse educational and scientific activities.
"The lawyer is the subject of choice, and he chooses those who are interested in him"
- Will the specialization of an advocate influence the choice of the appropriate measure? Are business law seminars going to be considered, for example, an advocate who works in criminal proceedings?
- There are no formal requirements for specialization in the order, as in the legislation of Ukraine, and this is logical. The advocate is offered a choice on the topic, and he chooses the ones that interest him. The training may either coincide with its practical specialization, or be different. This is a question of personal priorities and a vision of developing your own career.
- How many countries have the memorandum CCBE "On mutual recognition of cross-border qualification of advocates"?
- UNBA joined this memorandum in February 2017. At that time, its parties were 45 organizations from the European Union, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Israel. This is a very important document, which stipulates the mutual recognition of academic hours or points of advanced training received at events held in other member countries of the organization. CCBE is the largest European professional lawyer organization with more than 1 million members. In essence, this document integrates the Ukrainian bar community into a European area of professional education for advocates. This is a huge opportunity to gain knowledge in any European country, and this is recognized by the formal requirements and the previous edition, and a new procedure for the professional development of advocates in Ukraine.
"The development of the automation system, as well as the responsibility for quality control process requires significant resources"
- Who can become a third-party training operator and what are the conditions for it besides paying the contribution? And, by the way, why is the contribution in the amount of exactly 50 minimum wages?
- The size of such a contribution is economically feasible, since the development and support of the automation system, as well as the obligation to control the quality of the organization of advanced training throughout Ukraine, requires considerable resources. We do not have the right to transfer such expenses to the shoulders of advocates. In addition, as a result of the absence of such a system, unscrupulous participants appeared on the market of professional development, who, instead of real training, sold air. The quality of the organization of the process of raising the level of qualification of advocates is also a question.
For these and other reasons, there was a need for accreditation of third-party professional development operators. A 4-hour webinar with a questionable topic will no longer be a case in accordance with the updated order. The operator of the professional development of advocates must state his seriousness, including the payment of an organizational fee at the level of 50 minimal wages. And such organizations should have a lecturer's warehouse, premises for events, a methodological base, action plans. It may seem that this is a large number of requirements for those who want to raise the qualification of advocates. However, I want to assure you that this is aimed strictly at the benefit for an advocate.
- What are the expected results of the authors of the new edition of its introduction in the near future?
The first goal is to provide for advocates a convenient modern service, which will allow to obtain qualitative new theoretical and practical knowledge and not to think about marks, certificates, etc. That is, a new management system is established. We expect that the new rules will also change the quality of the offer on the market, where very often the content and beautiful names of certain events do not exactly coincide, to be honest. We did not set a goal other than creating opportunities for raising the professional level of the bar community. Let us not forget that the effectiveness of protecting the rights and legitimate interests of citizens depends on the qualification of advocates.
The article was published in the "Закон і Бізнес".
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