Protection of Lawyers | 22.03.2022

Support our Ukrainian colleagues – Letter from the President of UIA, Hervé Chemouli

Dear Colleagues,

Three weeks ago, we joined countless members of the international community to condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia's invasion of Ukraine and expressed our fears about the unacceptable humanitarian catastrophe it would mean for the Ukrainian people.

In these trying times and in the spirit of the UIA, we must now act more concretely. It is therefore to a mobilization of our members that I appeal to bring the help, support and solidarity requested by our Ukrainian colleagues.

We are aware that many of you already are very mobilized to support our Ukrainian colleagues, whether in the country or elsewhere. On behalf of the UIA, we salute your commitment and thank you. We encourage those of you who have not yet done so to participate according to your means and possibilities in this humanitarian effort.

But how?

During the Governing Board Meeting on March 12, we had the honor of meeting by videoconference with our colleague, Valentyn Gvozdiy, Vice-President of the Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA), which is a collective member of the UIA.

With great resilience and courage, Mr. Gvozdiy explained how the UNBA is trying to protect its members while continuing to provide legal services to Ukrainian citizens. He also shared with us the needs of our Ukrainian colleagues and the concrete help that can be given to them.

Among the victims of this humanitarian disaster, some of our colleagues have indeed lost everything, and many of our women colleagues with children have also had to leave the country, leaving everything behind.

UIA has and will continue to support the Ukrainian National Bar directly and encourages its members to do so, also. Therefore, here are ways to immediately help our colleagues:

1. Direct financial support for the Ukrainian Bar Association

Financial support remains the simplest and most effective way to contribute. A few days ago, Mrs. Lidiya Izovitova, President of UNBA, launched a call for donations. The link to donate is here or below. UNBA has constituted a Supervisory Board composed of recognized members of the profession from different regions of Ukraine, which oversees the management of its funds and guarantees the distribution to those most in need.

2. Paid internships for young lawyers

Many of our young colleagues wish to continue to work remotely from wherever they are, whether in Ukraine or elsewhere. It is extremely important that we support them in the practice of their profession. They would appreciate receiving offers of paid internships, especially from law firms working internationally, where they can use their skills.

Similarly, many of them could apply to specialized programs at foreign universities where they could benefit from scholarships. If your firm can offer a paid internship or training for a young Ukrainian lawyer, please contact us.

3. Professional assistance to women lawyers

Some of our colleagues had to flee Ukraine with their young children. They find themselves abroad without the possibility to practice their profession. We are looking for law firms that could accommodate a Ukrainian lawyer in order to give her the means to practice in a calm and secure professional environment, please let us know.

4. Practical support

Our colleagues need any practical help you can provide, including medicines, essential products, and protective tools. For example, some bar associations have collected bullet-proof vests from the police forces in their countries to send them to Ukraine.  Please send us any of your proposed aid initiatives using the attached form.

5. Pro bono legal assistance for refugees

In order to help refugees navigate the legal systems of the various countries in which they are hosted, we have asked our country representatives to connect with their bar associations, in order to link up with initiatives already in place. We maintain a registry of these initiatives and can refer you to the most appropriate person/organization.

6. Shelter

If it is possible for you to host Ukrainian refugees for a certain period of time, you can do so through the channels available in your country. If you are particularly interested in hosting a family of lawyers, we can centralize the offers with the Ukrainian National Bar Association.

7. General support for the Ukrainian population

Finally, if you prefer to help the Ukrainian population in general, we invite you to respond to one or more of the calls for donations launched by organizations currently working on the ground, including:

Big or small, your contribution is most welcome!

Please make their needs your priority. Please use the form here below to indicate your proposals.

Yours sincerely,

Hervé Chemouli
President of the UIA