On Legal Assistance Day, students and teachers of St Petersburg University helped residents answer their legal questions.
The University Legal Clinic always takes part in initiatives aimed at provision of free legal aid. Such events are held several times a year under the auspices of the Russian Bar Association.
This year's event was held in an online format. People could contact the Legal Clinic of St Petersburg University by calling the helpline or through the Virtual Reception. 'In these circumstances, we have to comply with the regime established by law and limit face-to-face communication. We cannot accept clients in person yet, but this is no reason to stop the provision of free legal aid,' said Andrei Novikov, Associate Professor at St Petersburg University and a teacher at the Clinic. Despite the unusual format, more than 30 people from St Petersburg asked for advice in one day. Residents asked questions in the areas of civil law, pensions, enforcement proceedings, housing law, education and family law.
Free legal advice is the basis of the constitutional guarantees for citizens to have access to qualified legal assistance. All students working with clients of the University Legal Clinic are supervised by a team of highly qualified staff with many years of experience. Andrei Novikov explained: 'Of course, students carry out a thorough analysis of the situation, study documents, and prepare the necessary procedural documents independently. However, teachers check all the stages of consultancy work without exception'.
We guarantee qualified support for citizens at our University Clinic. We know how necessary this assistance is for people who do not have the financial means to seek legal advice from professional lawyers.
Andrei Novikov, Associate Professor at St Petersburg University
The main task of the consultants from the University Legal Clinic is to help a person understand a complicated legal issue and outline a possible solution. Lawyers say that this is especially important now, in the times of pandemic. 'People have found themselves in difficult, unusual conditions. We are now witnessing an increase in unemployment and a decline in production. It is important that a person could get help, learn about their rights to benefits, social payments and support from the state. We must not leave a person alone with a problem. It is our duty to help,' said Andrei Novikov.
Until the situation with the spread of coronavirus fully stabilises, the clinic will continue to receive inquiries from people only by phone: 363-62-22 or through the Virtual Reception of the Legal Clinic of St Petersburg University.
'We regret, of course, that there is no live communication with clients, only by telephone. We are looking forward to returning to the usual format,' said Associate Professor Novikov. It is important that the clinic can help citizens not only during all-Russian events, but also throughout the year. Anyone who qualifies under the categories specified in the Federal Law 'On Free Legal Assistance in the Russian Federation' may apply for advice from the Clinic. These categories include, for example, orphans, people with disabilities (groups I and II), adoptive parents, and elderly citizens residing in social care institutions. Lawyers from St Petersburg University have extended this list to include all employees and students of the University, as well as students of other higher education institutions in St Petersburg.