Soros Foundation Moldova (FSM)

Good Governance

The mission of the department is to enhance transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of government in accordance with the European agenda.

Justice and Human Rights

The Justice and Human Rights Department’s vision of rule of law is built on the solid grounds of a fair, accessible and predictable justice delivery system, which effectively safeguards fundamental human rights.

The Department develops and implements activities in several areas, crucial for the fulfilment of its vision: Human Rights, Access to Justice, and Criminal Justice.

Public Health

Our mission is to support and contribute to the development and promotion of health policies and practices based on evidence, which promotes human rights, social inclusion, and justice.

Media Program

Media Department's mission: to contribute to the development of an open, participatory, pluralistic and value-based society in Republic of Moldova by organizing, supporting and financing activities aimed at encouraging the development of an independent media sector and improving access to information.

Other initiatives

Education Support Project

Improving National State Guaranteed Legal Aid System By Consolidating The Status Of The Paralegal Profession

Development of a national strategy for the extension of the paralegal network, conferring an official professional status to paralegal activity in the Republic of Moldova, provision of initial and continued training for paralegals, establishment of a transparent and sustainable mechanism for remuneration – are only some of the measures recommended to strengthen the system of state guaranteed primary legal aid. These recommendations are explained in a Road Map developed by the team of the Efrim, Roșca and Associates Law Firm, under a Soros Foundation-Moldova initiative.

"This document has highlighted legislative systemic issues and gaps regarding paralegal activity. Our goal was for the authors of the study to observe the degree of correlation between the current system and the legal empowerment needs of the population, especially of the most vulnerable social groups. Concurrently, we have tried to identify major intervention areas to improve the system of state guaranteed legal aid, and to define concrete steps to strengthen the status of paralegals", the „Efrim, Roșca și Asociații” coordinator, Oleg Efrim, pointed out.

The research has identified three possible options to update the paralegal network concept:

  • designation of paralegals as freelance professionals similar to lawyers, mediators and notaries
  • introduction of the position of the paralegal in the staffing of the National Legal Aid Council (NLAC) territorial offices
  • maintaining current arrangement, i.e. paralegals as professionals contracted by NLAC territorial offices, with partial organizational modifications to the profession as a whole

Following the analysis, the authors determined that the best solution would be to keep the paralegals as professionals contracted by NLAC territorial offices. At the same time, consolidation of their status and development of a paralegals' network could be implemented in this format only after certain regulatory, financial and organizational amendments. This solution is most appropriate for at least two reasons: financial efficiency, including for the public budget system, and functional efficiency.

To consolidate the status and the role of the paralegal, experts have recommended their professional association by registering a community-based organization.

Referring to the importance of the paralegals' activity in the state guaranteed legal aid system of the Republic of Moldova, Lilian Darii, Executive Director of the National Legal Aid Council, specified that "Provision of primary legal aid through paralegals certainly adds value to the national system of state guaranteed legal aid, making it more diverse and comprehensive in terms of facilitating access to justice. I still believe that we did the right thing when we decided to institutionalize the paralegals' network in rural and urban settlements to provide primary legal aid. Although the concept of the paralegal seems to be simplistic, in reality the impact of the paralegal activity is much larger and more diverse. While we shall consolidate and build up the capacity of this important legal empowerment instrument, the support of our development partners, including public authorities, is decisive in this process”.

"The Soros Foundation-Moldova helped establish and develop the paralegal network in 2010. We think that the legal empowerment of the population, especially of socially vulnerable categories, has to be a continuing process regardless of legislative gaps or interpretations. At the same time, we need to be clear regarding professional training, certification, employment, periodic evaluation and interaction with public authorities and the non-governmental sector. Thus, a natural step in developing the Road Map would be to establish a working group. This group shall consist of representatives of national institutions dealing with state guaranteed legal aid and legal empowerment. The group shall work on finalizing the process of instituting the paralegal profession”, concluded Victor Munteanu, Soros Foundation-Moldova's Department of Justice and Human Rights director.

The paralegals' network was created in 2010. Within the last seven years, thousands of people have managed to solve their legal issues regarding inheritance, divorce, social assistance, or property rights with the help of paralegals. Currently, there are around 40 community-based paralegals from different rural areas of the country in the network. For more information on services provided by community-based paralegals see www.parajurist.md.

The Road Map was developed within the Consolidation of the Network of Community-Based Paralegals Project implemented by the Efrim, Roșca and Associates Law Firm, with financial support from the Justice and Human Rights Department of the Soros Foundation-Moldova. The initiative is part of the Shared Framework on Legal Empowerment in Moldova.