TIRANA LEGAL AID SOCIETY (TLAS) RESUME 1999-2013
Tirana Legal Aid Society, (TLAS) started its activity in 1999 and has been one of the programs of CAFOD Albania until December 18, 2006, date when TLAS was registered as an Albanian independent local not-for-profit organization, in the form of the Center.
TLAS is a modest structure but with an important vision and mission. Together with other governmental or non-governmental actors has tried and will continuously try to create another reality for further positive developments in Albania.
TLAS values: Making a difference through trust, respect, service and working with others.
TLAS vision: An innovative, collaborative legal aid system responding to the needs of low income people.
TLAS Mission statement: Fulfillment of the social and legal needs of the people in need: education and increasing of the awareness of the Albanian society on the rule of law and human rights; promotion of improvements in Albanian legislation; progress of the community and strengthening of the democracy in Albania.
TLAS Overall Objectives:
- Provide legal services to the vulnerable individuals and groups in need
- Increasing awareness and publish information on the important legal and human rights issues
- Undertaking law improvement initiatives for a better solution of the legal and social problems of the people in need
Methodology of the Core Service is to offer a continuum of legal services that includes legal information, education, advice, and representation. It is composed of:
- Paralegal services (solution of legal cases through administrative way);
- Legal services (solution of legal cases through court procedures);
- Law-line service (legal advice through telephone line);
- Clinics (enable clients for self-representation before state authorities);
- Mediation (alternative dispute resolution);
- Mobile service (to reach vulnerable individuals in remote area with resources).
Increasing awareness and publish information on the important legal and human rights issues is composed of:
- Street Law activities (TLAS organizes street law visits, meetings in rural areas and suburbs, deliver street law publications written in a simple language for public use)
- Students Internship Program (Law & Social Work Faculty students are involved in a full program of internship through information and awareness activities of Street Law, mobile services, clients case management and other specific activities)
- Legal strengthening of associations of TLAS target groups (Incorporation of local associations; Training seminars for strengthening of legal capacities of local associations; Training activities for officials of state structures; Training workshops for court administration and judges).
Taking law improvement initiatives for a better solution of the legal and social problems of people in need composed of:
- Monitoring activities in the legal systems as the Report on the level of corruption in the Notary Public System, report on the activity of Bailiffs Offices in Albania, Report on the Court Administration activity, Report on the court users satisfaction, etc.)
- Law improvement Initiatives drafting new laws and amendments for the existing legislation after identification of problems through client case management.( TLAS experts have drafted the amendment of the property law, the amendment for the birth registration on “Civil status Law”, drafted changes of legislation for the non political prisoners, for inclusion of the single mothers in the social assistance scheme, for army invalids pensions, for Roma children education, and one of the biggest success is drafting and approval the new Law on the “Albanian Legal Aid” and drafting the amendments on the law “ On welfare benefits law”.
- Advocacy and lobbing for the TLAS law draft’s approval, putting pressure to governmental structures for better solutions on favor of the vulnerable communities (The law changes and drafts mentioned above are all approved).
II. TLAS PROGRAM EVALUATION
TLAS activity is regularly reviewed by the external independent consultancy from USA and UK. There are six Evaluation Reports in a period of eight Years done by external consultants starting with Tony Trott, Legal Aid UK, Richard Langan, Columbia University, USA, Bruce Perrone and Barbara Bays from West Virginia Legal Aid, Daniel Manning from Greater Boston Legal Services, Rosemary French and Marie Contreras from Benchmark Institute of San Francisco, representatives of European Union in the framework of the EU-CARD Project. The Consultants’ recommendations are focused, mainly, in case management, program sustainability and strategic development. TLAS activity is based on the Strategic Plan 2010-2013 and is focused on: 1) client services; 2) community awareness campaign for better access in the legal rights; 3) advocacy for law improvement and social policy 4) staff training and fund development.
TLAS Annual Reports are published each Year in hard copy and electronic form and is distributed to the stakeholders.
TLAS Annual Audit Reports are prepared each year by Independent Auditors. The Auditing Reports are delivered to the donors.
TLAS work is very well documented and identified because of the installation in 2000 of a Client Database Software, produced, installed and managed by “Kemp’s Case Works”, professionally used by the most known Legal Aid Societies. The Software collects the data and produce reports to reflect at any time the steps done with TLAS Clients. The TLAS database is a real source for all case’ information, reports and details regarding type of problems, target groups, case status etc.