A new community legal clinic planned for east Jerusalem could have a number of Western nuances to it, following a month-long visit from an Al-Quds University faculty member.
Osama Al-Risheq, a supervising lawyer at the human rights clinic at the Al-Quds Faculty of Law, has been working with the Community Legal Clinic at Western’s Faculty of Law and with clinic director Doug Ferguson.
Al-Risheq looks to learn the ins-and-outs of how a community legal clinic works, as well as how poverty law is practiced in Canada. He says there are hopes Al-Quds will initiate a poverty law clinic in Jerusalem in the near future, likely adapting lessons from Western’s practices.
“Here at Western, and in Ontario, there is an excellent history of providing legal service to the public. I hope to learn from that in several ways – how they met with clients; how the students interact; and the practical learning and experiences through the cases,” says Al-Risheq, who returns home this weekend after five weeks in London.
“I see a great opportunity in exploring ways of dealing with the students and constructing institutions for providing such legal services. We are still learning this in my country. We are very new to the area of clinical education, in general.”
Ferguson says he and associate Law professor Michael Lynk visited Al-Quds University last December eying ways the two universities could collaborate further.
“We thought the best way to start was to have Osama come over to visit,” says Ferguson. “They have a human rights clinic now at their law school, and would like to set up a new, more consumer-based clinic in east Jerusalem.”
And there are many teaching examples that could transfer back to Jerusalem. For example, one of the clinical courses taught at Western includes a case simulation, where the students have to interview a client, mediate, prepare opening and closing statements, interview witnesses and other aspects of putting a case together.
“Perhaps we could share that with Osama, which can adapted that to their new clinic,” adds Ferguson.
Al-Risheq, who also spent time with Neighbourhood Legal Services in downtown London, is confident the relationship with Western won’t end once his visit is complete.
“There are a number of ideas that have come to the surface in my visit, which possibly include chaired research projects, exchange students, and visits between our faculty and professors,” he says. “We are study the possibilities and obstacles of this at the same time.”
During the past two years, Western has been building a partnership project with Al-Quds University, the largest Palestinian university in Jerusalem. Al-Quds has approximately 11,000 students, which includes both a medical and law school.
Also currently at Western is Dr. Yousef Najajreh from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Al-Quds. He is working on anti-cancer drug research at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in professor James Koropatnick’s lab at the London Regional Cancer Program. He is visiting until Aug. 20.