Symposium marking the 10th anniversary of the Migration Law Clinic great success

The VU Migration law Clinic  celebrated its tenth anniversary with a symposium on the 28th of September 2023. Marcel Reneman founder and key figure of the clinic in the past decade, delivered the keynote in which she reflected on the success and challenges of setting up the clinic, and of clinic education more in general and the impressive achievements of the last ten years.

Since 2013, the Migration Law Clinic has worked on a number of ‘famous’ cases before the CJEU, such as E.K. (Non-temporary nature of Chavez-Vilchez Right of Residence), Landespolizeidirektion Steiermark (Legality of Reintroduction of Internal Border Controls); E. (Evidence in Eritrean Family Reunification Cases); and K. and A (Proportionality of Integration Requirements). See for more information

After the break a very lively panel discussion took place in which the panelists and the audience discussed the role and value of clinical expert opinions for the legal and academic practice. Agnes van Steijn, Former Senior Lawyer at European Court of Human Rights, emphasized the value of expert opinions from universities for proceedings at the ECtHR. Ulrich Stege, Executive Secretary of the European Network for Clinical Legal Education and Co-President of the Global Alliance for Justice Education, stressed that the figure of an expert opinion is a ground breaking format, invented by the Migration Law Clinic of the VU. Moreover, he stressed that clinical education is not only valuable for the legal practice, but can also be very useful for academics supervising cases and therewith focusing their expertise on concrete cases.

Eva Bezem, lawyer at Prakken d’Oliveira Lawyers, spoke from her experience as lawyer working with the migration law clinic, in which she found out that expert opinions are not only valuable in litigation on the European level, but equally within national proceedings. Bram van Melle, Everaert Advocaten Immigration Lawyers, emphasized the invaluable experience of working with students on cases, particularly because of their fresh and original takes on the legal issue at hand. Also the interaction with academics can very productive for lawyers and enriching. Luca Scheid, Alumnus of the Master program Migration and Refugee Law and the VU Migration Law Clinic, spoke from his experience as student taking part in the Clinic and put on the table the tension that exists in any project between the position and interest of the students, the quality of the expert opinion as supervised by the staff of the ACMRL and the perspective of the lawyer who has to prioritize the interest of the migrant.

The panel discussion, which was led by Hemme Battjes, professor of European Asylum Law and Dean of the Law Faculty of the VU, ended with observations on the question whether Clinical Expert Opinions have reputation because of the independence of academics, or rather because of their methodological rigour. In any case, the starting point and value of the Clinical Project is situated within the context of the inequality of arms between the migrant and the government.