In October, Angela Cornell, clinical professor of law, traveled to La Paz to work with two Bolivian law schools, Universidad Católica Boliviana and the Universidad Salesiana de Bolivia, and a nonprofit human rights organization, Capacitación y Derechos Ciudadanos, which together are creating the first legal clinic in the country. Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé, the former president of Bolivia who has also served as Chief Justice of the Bolivian Supreme Court, initiated the project as dean of the Catholic University. Professor Cornell and Villanova Law School Professor Beth Lyon are providing pro bono assistance in the development and implementation of the legal clinic.
“Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with more than half of the population living in poverty and at least a quarter in extreme poverty,” says Cornell. “The country also has the largest indigenous population in the region, with 30 different languages spoken. The legal clinic will serve the needs of vulnerable populations, of which many are indigenous, with representation in both criminal and civil matters.”
During her visit, Cornell provided feedback on the initial proposal and training on clinical pedagogy for the clinic’s professors. All of the training was done in Spanish. She also worked with the first law students who will be working in the clinic.
While in La Paz, Professor Cornell also presented a talk on International Labor Law at a seminar at the Catholic University on Obstacles and Challenges to Human Rights in the 21st Century.
The Bolivian clinical project was supported by the International Senior Lawyers Project, which provides experienced pro bono lawyers to promote human rights, equitable and sustainable development, and the rule of law worldwide. On-going expertise and support for the new clinic will be provided through August 2013.