The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has led to unimaginable hardship and distress for its citizens both at home and abroad. To lend a helping hand, the Legal Clinic at IE University has written a legal guide to clear up any questions or doubts they may have.

The Legal Clinic at IE University takes on many pro bono cases, allowing law students to gain hands-on experience while creating positive change in the world. The clinic’s most recent project? Penning a useful guide for Ukrainian citizens, covering everything from migration to citizenship and other complex legal issues. 

We had the chance to speak to Adriana Martínez Menéndez and Carla Rovira Espadaler to hear what it was like to join the IE Legal Clinic and work on the Ukrainian guide. Discover what they had to say!

Adriana Martínez Menéndez on working as a team on the Ukrainian legal guide

Hailing from El Salvador, Adriana Martínez Menéndez is a bachelor of Laws student who has always dreamed of working on projects related to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights. Joining the Legal Clinic allowed her to do just that. From her very first year, she had the opportunity to work directly with clients and to make an impact in people’s lives. She describes the experience at the clinic as “enriching, demanding and productive.”

The chance to make a difference

When Adriana was given the opportunity to work on creating a guide for Ukrainian citizens looking to seek refuge in Spain, she was immediately interested. The project would surely make a difference in people’s lives, as it would clearly explain all the issues surrounding migration and citizenship status for Ukrainian refugees in Spain. Adriana helped make the guide as clear and concise as possible, so that our Ukrainian community members could rest assured that they had all the correct information—which can otherwise be tricky if you don’t have access to legal advice.

Divide and conquer

Adriana talked about working with Ukrainian lawyer Illya Kosovskiy, being part of a team, and how effective the team was. Creating a guide like this required a lot of input from several different people. The team worked well because it was divided into small groups of students who were assigned topics from the guide and supervised by LL.M. students at IE Law School as well as law professor Sonsoles Arias. Each of the groups worked independently but ensured all their research findings were intertwined and connected. 

Carla Rovira Espadaler’s unique experience with the project

Carla Rovira Espadaler is pursuing a Doble Máster en Abogacía y Asesoría Fiscal de Empresas (LL.M.) at IE Law School. She chose to join the Legal Clinic because it gave her a great opportunity as a master’s student to get closer to the professional law practice. For Carla, it’s a unique experience that allows her to help people while improving her hands-on law practice skills. 

All hands on deck—an “enriching” teamwork experience 

Just like Adriana, Carla jumped at the chance to provide pro bono services to Ukrainian refugees, an experience she called “enriching.” While working on the guide, she found that her legal research and presentation skills improved. The team she worked with was also an incredible one that, despite their workload, was able to manage it all. This experience will surely be one that she’ll carry with her for many years to come.

Carla named Illya Kosovskiy as someone who made her and the team’s work much easier. Illya is a Ukrainian lawyer, so he helped everyone work through any technical questions that arose throughout the process, always at everyone’s disposal, assisting in any and every way he could. Carla also spoke a bit about the undergraduate students she worked with—they were so eager to learn and help, always trying to come up with efficient solutions to problems. 

Interested in joining the IE Legal Clinic?

When asked what advice she would give someone interested in joining the Legal Clinic, Carla said that if you’re looking for a challenging experience within the realm of law, the Legal Clinic is where you should be. The clinic is looking for people who are passionate about the law, eager to learn and have the ability and time to dive into projects such as the legal guide for Ukrainians. 

Adriana also had a word of advice for those interested in joining: “Do it. Because why not?” She says students shouldn’t limit themselves, doubt themselves or make excuses about their time—they should simply go for it! No one should miss out on an opportunity because they were scared it wouldn’t work.

For Adriana, working with exceptional professionals and students from different backgrounds and degrees, brainstorming solutions to complex legal issues, and improving people’s lives was an exciting experience that she wouldn’t trade for anything.

So many people worked hard to make the Ukrainian legal guide possible. We’d like to thank the following people for their time and effort: Sonsoles Arias Guedón (project director), Illya Kosovskiy (legal advisor), Volodymyr Sydorenko, Carla Rovira Espadaler, Leonor Marques Jardim Salgado Figueira, Iona Angelika Steger, Cecilia Marion Doeff, Layla Rabie, Louiza Apostolidi, Adam Paska, Ildiko Maria Habsburglothringen, Alba Carralon Merino, Desiree Rommy Antonia Schottenhamel, Caroline Camilla Castella, Aleksa Pejovic, Kilian Konstantin Ibing, Mohammad Khalid Mohammad Al Shawwa, Genesis Alejandra Gil Perozo, Luciana Colanzi Land, and Adriana Martínez Menéndez.

Check out the Ukraine Guide down below!