Interviewing skills are an important practical skill in providing free legal aid. The quality of interviewing largely determines the success of state body representatives’ further work with citizens, which ultimately forms authority and people’s opinion about particular government structure. Very often, citizens express dissatisfaction with the fact that state bodies do not give full-fledged advice, redirect the applicant to other structures, and sometimes give incorrect or incomplete advice.
“Legislation requires the provision of legal advice by state bodies within their competence,” said Zhyldyz Ryskulova, deputy director of the Free Legal Aid Coordination Center (FLA CC) during the training on building the skills of interviewing and counseling “Procedure for rendering legal advice by the entities of State Guaranteed Legal Aid (SGLA)”. The training organized August 5 – 9, 2019 in the village of Kara-Oi with the participation of more than 20 representatives of government bodies.
A person who seeks legal assistance is interested in solving his problem, but not everyone can clearly state it. The task of a specialist is to be able to understand the essence of the problem through an interview, and give to the client full legal advice and possible legal ways to resolve it.
According to the trainer Aliya Kalybaeva, head of the Department of Forensic Expertise of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, interviewing and counseling skills are not taught either at universities or at work place. “Lack of interviewing skills leads to the collection of poor-quality, incomplete, unreliable advice. This affects the solution of person’s legal problem. During training, representatives of state bodies are presented with the skills of interviewing people who contacted them for getting legal advice” says Aliya Kalybaeva.
Most of the people who seek legal assistance are people who have encountered with life difficulties and cannot solve them on their own, they are people of different cultural and social levels, different nationalities. Therefore, not everyone has an ability to highlight the legal aspects and consistently present for specialist precisely those facts that are important for the case.
“Therefore, employees of state bodies and local self-government bodies should have the skills to conduct interviews in order to obtain the necessary information for a correct legal assessment of received facts and give a full consultation,” says Gulzada Dzhalgasynova, trainer, assistant professor of the Criminal Law and Criminology Department of the Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University.
Coach on personal growth Zhyldyz Duishenova held an interactive session on effective communication tools. One of the main communication errors, according to Zhyldyz Duishenova, is when a citizen leaves without understanding the state body representative. It turns out that everything was in vain, for what and why he came, and did not receive enough information to resolve his question.
High-quality legal advice, which includes informing citizens about their rights and obligations; warning client about risks, difficulties; costs associated with resorting to legal procedures, as well as about the possibility of reducing costs, such as the possibility of exemption from payment state fees, expert examination at the expense of the budget, etc,, will significantly reduce the burden of the number of applications for qualified legal assistance.
“In this regard, a draft practical guide is currently being developed to assist state bodies and local self-government bodies on providing legal advice by the entities of the SGLA system, with the aim of unifying and uniformly providing legal advice and maintaining a single statistics ”- said Zhyldyz Ryskulova.
The training organized with the initiative of the FLA CC with the support of the UNDP and MFA of Finland project “Towards sustainable access to justice for legal empowerment in the KR”.