Over the past few months, an innovative Law Hub – home to legal aid centres, social organisations, and legal start-ups - has arisen from the shadowy recesses at the base of REC A. To what does the Law Hub owe its inception? And why does the idea behind the Law Hub make for such a good fit with the ALS? Dean Andre Nollkaemper, one of the Hub’s initiators, explains.
“The notion of a hub, a breeding ground for services and innovation, is not in itself new. You can already see similar innovations at locations both in the Netherlands and abroad. Anniek de Ruijter, our programme director at the Amsterdam Law Practice, was the first to propose the development of a Law Hub when we were looking for a way to increase the visibility of the Amsterdam Law Practice. In that experiential education programme, students serve actual clients in law clinics and legal aid offices – and the Law Hub provides the perfect setting for those activities.”
“The ALS has always had a social character. Our research focusses on social themes, and we educate our students to remain aware of the role they play in society. We also maintain close ties to the Municipality of Amsterdam and endeavour to stake out a position at the heart of the community. We most definitely do not see ourselves as confined to an ivory tower. Over the past few years, we have increased our visibility and otherwise strengthened this position, for instance with the Amsterdam Law Practice. The Hub is nothing more than a logical next step to cast our ties to the community in a physical form.”
“The Hub is particularly interesting for students who chose the law not only because they hope to land a great job but because they also hope to contribute to the improvement of society.
Even Bachelor’s students can benefit from the legal aid offices at the Hub by getting to work with clients on concrete legal issues. Master’s students work with our social partners in Clinics and Law Labs by applying the law to social issues. Alumni and soon-to-be graduates can use the Hub as a jumping-off point for their legal start-ups, take their first steps as entrepreneurs.”
“I hope – and expect – that the Hub will serve as a breeding ground where a wide range of users collaborate on and come up with innovative solutions for issues that that society has a right to expect the university to address. I also anticipate that the Hub will contribute to the notion of the ALS as an institution whose teaching and research make a difference and that this will enable us to attract students who share the same ambition.”