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'Students become more resilient in the workplace through Amsterdam Law Clinics'

Published on 13-11-2023 16:00
At the Amsterdam Law Clinics, Master's students not only brush up on their legal knowledge, but also learn how to work in a professional environment. 'Afterwards, they can better recognise a toxic work environment and protect their own boundaries,' says new director Elena Deliran.
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What is your study programme?

For those who do not yet know: what are the Amsterdam Law Clinics?

'Education in the Amsterdam Law Clinics is similar to doing an internship. You gain practical experience and work on real cases of general interest under the guidance of an expert. So it really has an impact. You work in a team of 3 to 6 students on legal issues for real clients. Not only will you improve your legal skills, but you will also work on other skills such as presentation skills, interview techniques and writing convincing texts. The clinics are for all students who want to gain valuable work experience and contribute something to society. It is an environment where you learn to communicate, give and receive feedback and work together. You develop in many areas and build a professional network.'

What exactly does the practical part look like?

'We work on real cases and that also means that there is a duty of confidentiality, for example. You learn to deal with that ethical aspect in practice. You can't just meet in a dorm or library to talk about case details with your teammates. You can therefore work in a special clinic room. The cases you work on have real impact. In a previous clinic, our students found gaps in the legislation around arms exports. That led to Parliamentary questions and an article in the NRC. This way, issues are really put on the agenda.'

With you as director, will anything change about the clinics?

'The programme is already rock solid. But we do want to make it more inclusive. We sometimes hear now that students are afraid to apply because they don't have high grades. I think that's a shame, because grades don't tell the whole story. To me, your attitude and motivation say more than enough. We believe that abandoning grades as an admission requirement does not compromise the quality of the programme. We also look at people's potential. In addition, we want to experiment with other ways of assessment that can promote neurodiversity within the programme. For example, reflection is an important part of the clinics, and you can also submit a reflection report to us via an audio file or video.'

In what ways do students grow by participating in the clinics?

'Research shows that students who participate in the clinics feel mentally stronger. When you have just graduated, you often have no idea how things go in the workplace. During the clinics, you develop your own professionalism and learn how to work together constructively and how to address each other when things don't go well. With that experience under your belt, you are also more likely to recognise a toxic work environment and have the confidence to guard your own boundaries.'