It has become a certainty that access to legal information is nowadays paramount, and with it, the idea of a legal clinic has become the right way to deliver this knowledge with the aim of promoting the rights of vulnerable and weak groups of individuals in our society.
First of all, the concept of legal clinics as an experiment, dates back historically to American society, and then it began to appear in other societies. Moroccan society, like other societies, has adopted this experience as a modern and new one, and it has not yet been generalized in order to create a kind of interaction between theoretical and applied study in professions, especially those of a legal nature. Of course, the Moroccan university has adopted the experience of the legal clinic in order to open up to Moroccan society as a whole.
In this context, Ms. El Hajjami, High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Project Manager of the Legal Clinic in Marrakech (University of Cadi Ayyad, Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences) held a remote communication dialogue with members of HAF’s Legal Clinic in Fez, in coordination with its Project Manager, Mrs. Okbi, and including the Marrakech Legal Clinic’s trainees. The aim of sharing the experience of the Fez clinic was to generalize the experiences and expertise of the trainees so they could gain various skills and learn how these clinics operate.
Mrs. Okbi presented herself, explaining that she has been implementing HAF’s Legal Clinic in Fez and that she and its members felt fortunate to attend this networking meeting in order to exchange knowledge and experiences with the Marrakesh clinic’s trainees. She added that the one in Fez was launched in October 2019 by volunteer students from the USMBA in partnership with HAF and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) between the U.S. and the Middle East (MEPI). It works on five axes: immigration, asylum, human trafficking, family mediation, and entrepreneurship. It also focuses on supervising students in strengthening their abilities through a variety of courses offered throughout their training period in the legal clinic. Its tasks are to provide free legal aid to families, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking. They have signed several partnership agreements with the various actors involved in its fields of operation, whether in the public or private sectors, and they also assist holders of entrepreneurial projects, improving the beneficiaries' access to the labor market, within the framework of the participatory approach.
The Fez Legal Clinic contributed to the training of 40 students in 2019/2020, 41 students in 2020/2021, and more than 90 students in 2022. It conducted more than 18 training courses dealing with different topics.
With regard to the files and cases that were worked on in the clinic, 85 cases were opened, including the following:
- 38 files related to immigration;
- 10 cases related to family mediation;
- 35 files related to entrepreneurship;
- one asylum case; and
- one case related to human trafficking.
In this regard, the members took the time to explain to the Marrakech Legal Clinic’s students the method of resolving files or cases, as each file or case has unique information, in order to maintain contact with the beneficiary of the legal advice and to track their file. This information includes several items:
- the beneficiary’s full name;
- their national ID number;
- their address;
- their marital (social) status;
- their phone number;
The second type of information that pertains to each file varies according to the type of file. If, for example, it is related to family mediation, the clinic is satisfied with personal information, but if it is related to an asylum seeker or immigration, the information also includes documents for the application for immigration or asylum or for determining residence in Morocco. In such cases, it is not possible to use only the national card, but it is necessary to specify other information related to their passport photo, a Moroccan residence permit, and other photographs, as well as any criminal record extracted from the Court. Just for reference, each file differs according to the case and according to the possible solutions.
Accordingly, the most important need that must be embodied in each file is confidentiality, in order to encourage the beneficiary who is requesting legal assistance to meet with those who share his problem.
The members of Fez Legal Clinic indicated that the method of resolving the files is done by connecting the beneficiaries of the legal advice to the Legal Clinic’s main center located in the Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences with the University, or the files are resolved through the mobile clinic, which provides legal advice to citizens and civil society in the Fez region who would otherwise have difficulty getting to the city.
In this regard, legal advice takes place in two ways: either depends on the consultation directly, or the aid is given over the phone.
After they shared their experience and role in the method of work, the trainees had a clear vision of how to work within the framework of providing legal advice and how to resolve files. Naturally, the lingering confusion in their minds was cleared.
At that time, Mrs. El Hajjami facilitated actual participation among the trainees by asking them questions related to the clinic. The first one was what the trainees should have as their main priority in the context of their research in the clinic. They also asked follow-up questions: What types of individuals come to the clinic to seek help or ask for legal advice? Regarding the issue of confidentiality, if the trainee is unable to find a solution to the beneficiary’s file, can he share the file’s information with other trainees in order to search for the solution to the file based on his responsibility?
The truth is that all the questions asked were answered by the members of the Legal Clinic in Fez, who clarified ambiguities, as the content of the questions was all related to the good implementation of the clinic’s tasks and role.
Finally, Mrs. El Hajjami thanked the members of the Legal Clinic in Fez for exchanging their experiences and expertise in the context of dispelling the confusion in the minds of the Marrakech Legal Clinic’s trainees with the aim of gaining various skills and learning from the way they work in Fez, within the framework of the participatory approach.