Lost in Paragraphs? Ask a Student 


Lost in Paragraphs? Ask a Student 

They met in person at the introductory get-to-know-you course, where they agreed that they would find and share a flat in Prague. However, the two first-years, Barbora Lišková and Dominik Brož, never stepped inside the building of the Law Faculty because school moved on-line. The year was 2020, it was autumn, and the Covid-19 pandemic was gaining momentum. Locked at home, frustrated from the restricted contact with the world outside, the young, active students started thinking what to do. This is how the on-line project called Zeptejte se Studenta, ‘Ask a Student’, was born. Since then, its creators have been popularising law and helping the general public navigate through the legal jungle. And they are doing all this in their free time, and for free. 

The legal aspects of assisted reproduction, how to draft a will and testament, what the Labour Code says about overtime work, or what it means when doctors are obliged to proceed “de lege artis”. These are just a few examples of the topics that the students explore in their articles published on their website ‘Ask a Student’, and also on social media. In addition, they answer the (many) questions they receive in the dedicated e-mail box or through social media. 

People usually ask about labour and family law. The students are eager to provide answers, while always reminding that they are still studying and are not yet fully qualified lawyers. They consult and check their responses among each other. If the issue at hand should rather be discussed with a lawyer, or it the answer is too complex, they tell the inquirer. 

Helping Outside the Walls of the Faculty 

There are many different student associations at the Faculty of Law of Charles University, but they primarily work within the Faculty and focus their activities on the students themselves. The ‘Ask a Student’ project is different – its audience is mainly outside, says Dominik. 

“In our first year, we found out that we’re really into law. We started getting our first experience in law firms and thinking about how we could spend even more time with law. This is how I came up with the ‘Ask a Student’ project. We provide our services to people outside the Faculty, and try to share what we learn here with the public. At the same time, we are creating a platform for the students themselves, for their self-fulfilment. We want to make it fun, so that it is enriching for us and helpful for others,” explains Dominik, now a third-year student. 

During the first trial year of the project, its authors had to set all the rules and the necessary platforms. It was launched for real last year in the autumn. January 2023 saw a major change when the students got their own office at the Hybernská Campus within the ‘Studentská Hybernská’ project. It meant that more students could get involved and the portfolio of activities was expanded. The students are open to new ideas as well as students from other faculties. Thanks to another law student, Matyáš Kašák, the project is now much more present on social media, too. There is even a non-lawyer on the team now, who specialises in social media, mentions Barbora. 

“There are fifteen of us now. We discuss everything together, including ideas suggested by the newcomers. We want to expand and improve our work. We’ve developed the project a lot recently, especially on social media, we make videos, and comment on current affairs. Everything we create is checked by another member of the team, including our answers to the questions sent in by the public. It fosters teamwork, it moves all of us ahead, we practise public speaking, popularise law, and cooperate with each other. It’s just really great to see that we all love it and we really enjoy our regular meetings,” Barbora says enthusiastically. 

Since they now have some more time on their hands thanks to the expansion of the team, the students now decided to engage in other projects, too. Together with the University’s queer association Charlie, they organised a lecture by Petr Agha from the Department of Politology and Sociology of the Law Faculty, who talked about the position of the queer community in the Czech legal order at the Hybernská Campus. 

The students have also prepared legal workshops for secondary school students. They offer them through the  Stužák association, which brings together university student associations and organisations which want to get involved in more fun and interactive education of secondary school students with the aim of developing their critical thinking, notes Dominik. 

“One of the workshops is a traditional moot court, that is, simulated court proceedings. It is a popular one and can be adjusted to basically any level. The second workshop is our original concept. We divide the class into four groups and tell the students that they represent the judicial panels of the Constitutional Court. Each group is assigned a case, which is significantly simplified, and they try to come up with a decision in the time they have. The aim of the workshop is to teach the students how to communicate with one another, look for consensus, and produce well-reasoned decisions they can all agree on,” Dominik describes. Both workshops are organised free of charge for any secondary school that is interested. 

Author: Helena Zdráhalová 

Foto: Shutterstock, Helena Zdráhalová

This article is taken from the UK Forum.