By: Hasnae El Karfa
Hasnae provides pro bono legal assistance at an outreach event in Sefrou for cooperative members, April 2022. Photo: HAF
“The legal clinic has made a great difference in my life, contributed to my growth, and made me what I am today, which I was not before the program.”
We have now known Hasnae El Karfa for one year as a student at the Faculty of Legal, Economic, and Social Sciences and as a member of the Legal Clinic program. She is now 24 years old and in her first year as a PhD candidate researching human trafficking in the Moroccan Penal Code. After her completion of the program, we can testify to her distinguished, active participation, engagement, and integrity. Her distinguished commitment and contribution to the program have afforded her the respect of the Legal Clinic membership, professors, trainers as well as local, national and international partners.
As a student legal clinician, Hasnae has proved to be an active, engaged, and committed participant during a variety of socio-cultural, civic, and academic activities and events, such as trainings, seminars, conferences, study days, and beneficiary consultations, even as a trainer and member of organizing committees. During these activities, she has demonstrated quick and great evolution and improvement. She has demonstrated very good communication skills as well as beyond-expectation academic and personal qualities. This has been attested to by her maturity, sense of critical thinking, flexible attitude, and eagerness to get involved in learning experiences and activities in an independent way.
“The legal clinic has made a positive impact in both my personal and professional life. The program taught me more about myself, my competencies, and my studies and allowed me to put them into practice.” For Hasnae, the legal clinic student training she participated in as part of the program helped her improve the skills she had, acquire new ones, and become a better student, citizen, and human being.
Hasnae’s is an example of the positive impact the program has had. The training inspired her to select her research area and topic of her PhD thesis as human trafficking in the Moroccan penal code because this issue is one of the program’s concentrations.
Due to her excellent performance within the program, she was invited for a job interview at the European Council, which was successful. She began working for the Council as an expert in a project on the mechanisms of the orientation, advocacy, and protection of victims of human trafficking.
Hasnae participated in the International Women’s Day workshop organized by the Legal Clinic of the Faculty of Law in Fes on March 8, 2022. Photo: HAF
The skills she gained as a student clinician allowed her to participate in a study day organized by the Moroccan parliament on youth participation in politics and public policies. In the same context, she participated as a facilitator in the training offered by the legal clinic program to civil society associations in Sefrou and Oulad Tayeb on women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship.
According to Hasnae, youth are change agents and future leaders who will reinforce and maintain our national identity, diversity, and openness, and they will contribute to the sustainable development of our country. To this end, listening to youth voices and taking them into consideration would help us to take up the ever-changing challenges that define our present time and will continue to define the future. She believes that involving youth in decision-making and other civic activities, such as those successfully organized by the legal clinic, would certainly develop them as effective, responsible, and well-informed citizens.
“I would like to express my deepest thanks and the sincerest gratitude to all members of the Legal Clinic, to all professors and experts and partners who have made a difference in our lives, contributed to our change, and have made us what we are today,” remarks Hasnae. “The training, activities, and events in which we have been engaged, and, more importantly, the pedagogies used, offered us learning-by-doing experiences and allowed us opportunities to learn the values of teamwork, individual and group responsibility, endurance, competition, diversity, a sense of culture and community, and the values of mutual respect and tolerance.”
Hasnae continues to reflect, “Those activities offered us real and relevant opportunities to reinforce our coursework and to develop our academic and personal skills and apply them in a real-world context, which has enabled us to become lifelong and life-wide learners. Participation in the program has also increased our sense of engagement and belonging to the faculty and university.”
The Legal Clinic of the Faculty of Law (Clinique juridique de la faculté de droit – CJFD) in Fes aims to elevate the status of youth, women, and underrepresented communities by providing pro-bono legal aid and entrepreneurship training as a means to engage civically and economically.
Over the three years since its inception, the program has trained 231 (50% women, 50% men) master’s and doctoral students of law to administer legal aid and facilitate capacity building with community beneficiaries in the Fes-Meknes region of Morocco. In that time, student clinicians have worked on a total 267 case files pertaining to entrepreneurship, immigration and asylum, family mediation, psychological support, human trafficking, employment, and real estate. Additionally, 256 have benefited from the establishment or growth of 39 private income-generating projects and entities following entrepreneurship training and mentorship.
The program was established first as a pilot project in 2019 as a collaboration between the High Atlas Foundation and the Faculty of Legal, Economic, and Social Sciences at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University in Fes. From 2020 to 2022, the program’s continuation and expansion to include concentration on the promotion of entrepreneurship was funded by the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).