On 7 July, 2011, MDTF-JSS’ s Senior Justice Sector Advisor, Mr. John Furnari, accompanied Asst. Minister Vojkan Simic of the Serbia Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to Skopje, Macedonia to participate in this OSCE Conference designed to foster knowledge sharing amongst the region’s government and non-government free legal aid providers. The conference coincided with the first anniversary of the coming into force of the Republic of Macedonia’s Law on Free Legal Aid, and provided an opportunity for the MDTF-JSS team to learn about the Macedonian FLA system and its recent success and implementation challenges, as well as recent FLA implementation experiences from several other Balkan region jurisdictions such as Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Kosovo.
Several FLA model were discussed including a Catalunya model currently used in many Serbian municipalities whereby municipal governments contract with private bar members to handle requests for primary and secondary FLA. Meanwhile, a Macedonian NGO described an innovative “mobile” FLA service targeting the Roma community, a model which may also have application within rural areas where lack of transportation severely limits access to justice. Finally, the concept of expanding the use of law school legal clinics as FLA providers – so long as they are led by a practicing bar member- was discussed as a potential to cost-saver as well as an excellent teaching tool for students and future members of the bar.