08/06/22

Ukraine’s defense against Russia won’t just be a fight on the battlefield; the conflict will also come to blows in the courtroom. To help, the University of Pittsburgh is bringing about half a dozen Ukrainian lawyers and law students to Oakland to complete the school’s prestigious master’s degree in law.

Pitt’s School of Law launched the Ukrainian Legal Assistance Project in late May to serve as a resource for pro bono legal assistance from the United States and to train Ukrainian lawyers who plan to head back to the country to take the war to the courts.

“Modern warfare has moved to the courtroom, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought international law and international courts and tribunals into a new era of relevance,” a statement on the project’s website reads.

The students will learn how to engage in “lawfare,” the use of law by a country against its enemies, to hold Russia to account for its violations of international law. Charles Kotuby, executive director of Pitt’s Center for International Legal Education, said students will learn how to defend Ukraine and help rebuild it.

“Not only are we training them to be future leaders in their country, but we’re going to be doing real legal work,” he said. “They’re going to be helping their country on a variety of fronts during this war.”

Students will investigate claims of human rights violations and learn how to help Ukraine move forward to become a member of the European Union. That process will require lengthy negotiations and changes to Ukraine’s current legal system. Pitt will match students with global law firms and non-governmental organizations that focus on the legal issues arising from the war in Ukraine.

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Pitt is currently helping its accepted students secure visas to come to the United States. According to Kotuby, as many as six students can enroll in the program. He said Pitt plans to seek financial support from Pittsburghers to help the Ukrainian students settle in the city for as long as two years while they study.

“Other students from France and Germany can afford to show up and rent an apartment in Shadyside and study law here. These students can’t,” he said. “This is the type of support that people in this community can really give and can make a massive difference. Not only in these students’ lives but in Ukraine as a whole.”

https://www.wesa.fm/education/2022-06-08/pitt-to-help-ukrainian-lawyers-bring-the-war-against-russia-into-the-courtroom

https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/news/international/law-societies-and-bar-associations-from-g7-countries-unite-to-condemn-russian-invasion-of-ukraine/367270

https://www.cnb.avocat.fr/fr/actualites/guerre-en-ukraine-mise-en-oeuvre-des-sanctions-financieres-ciblees (FRANCAIS)

https://www.advokatsamfundet.dk/nyheder-medier/nyheder/2022/advokatsamfundet-tilbyder-hjaelp-til-ukrainske-advokater/ (DANISH)