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Ukrainian scholar joins UNB Law

UNB Law recently welcomed Ukrainian Practitioner-in-Residence, Marta Hlomb to the law school. Marta and her mother, have come from Rivne, just four hours west of Kyiv, and will stay in Fredericton for at least the next four months.

This emergency initiative was organized by Prof. Kerri Froc, whose mother is Ukrainian. Prof. Froc visited Kyiv in 2018 as part of a  Canadian delegation to the Women’s Legal Forum in Ukraine. She was struck by the city’s cosmopolitan nature and the kindness of its people. Overwhelmed by the news of the Russian invasion, Prof. Froc wanted to do something to help.

“First and foremost, this was an opportunity to get someone out of a warzone as quickly as possible,” said Froc, “and to have them bring as much of their family as they could. I’m really moved by the way our legal community, the Law Society of New Brunswick, the CBA of New Brunswick, the Faculty of Law Heritage Fund, and our alumni stepped up in a big way to help. Marta and her family are so grateful. Having her here will certainly enrich our legal community.”

Like many of her new UNB Law colleagues, Marta has her foot in both the academic and practitioner’s worlds. Marta graduated from National University Ostroh Academy in 2010 with a Master’s in Law (majoring in civil and commercial law). She worked in the Ukrainian judiciary for ten years as a Judge’s Assistant, first at the Rivne Circuit Administrative Court, eventually moving to the Supreme Court of Ukraine. 

“I worked for seven years at the Rivne Circuit Administrative Court, which is basically the court of the region, much like a provincial court. The judge I was working with was selected for the Supreme Court, and he wanted me to be on his team, so I took the offer, and we worked together at the Supreme Court for four years.”

In this role, Marta drafted court decisions, conducted legal analysis of legislation, and prepared legal conclusions and reports for Plenum hearings.

“I was working on elections cases—elections for the President and Parliament. The Supreme Court has a major role in these elections. The major appeals or violations relating to the process of these elections go straight to the Supreme Court. This became a new procedural approach after the Revolution of Dignity we had in 2014, to ensure that all of our elections are democratic, free and the results aren't somehow influenced—to ensure there is no corruption.”

Prior to the Russian invasion, Marta was working as a Legal Analyst Assistant for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project, “Justice for All” in Ukraine.

“The USAID agency has these projects around the world, but usually they have them in countries that are still developing. This project was concentrated on establishing rule of law, fighting corruption in the judiciary, and reforming the Ukrainian judiciary, because, the Ukrainian judiciary had some reforms applied to it, but they weren't that successful, so they still had some issues to work on.”

Marta’s work centred around the selection of new members for the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges, a panel of national and international legal experts who would lead the reform work. While the project was temporarily put on hold at the beginning of the war, Marta has recently been informed that the project has been renewed and will continue to move forward.

Marta is currently pursuing a Master’s in Political Science, majoring in anti-corruption studies, at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy—a prestigious national research university in the capital. As a Practitioner-in-Residence, Marta will continue to engage in research.

“My research topic relates to employing Integrity Councils in Ukraine. These councils consist of legal experts; they could be representatives of civil society or international experts, or just national legal experts, but usually not judges. I am looking at how to coordinate these integrity consoles with the judiciary, how to get them working together to fight the corruption, and generally to increase public trust of the judiciary.”

Marta hopes this research will be useful in other developing nations such as Moldova, Georgia and Albania, who share similar problems with their judiciary. Marta is planning to audit courses at UNB Law to learn more about the Canadian legal system and the Charter and Constitution. She hopes to meet with students and the Law Society and New Brunswick Bar to share knowledge on the Ukrainian and Canada systems. 

Connecting with Marta

Prof. Froc began the search for a Ukrainian scholar through her contacts in Kyiv and by spreading the word on social media through the Ukrainian Club of Moncton’s Facebook page. This is where Marta first saw the message and connected with Froc, sending along a CV and references. 

“We couldn't have dreamed up a better candidate,” said Froc. “Marta really checks all the boxes. She’s a scholar; she's already got a master's in law. She's a student; working on another master’s, and she's also been a practitioner and worked with the judiciary. We tracked down references from her professors and they all said she'd be perfect.” 

The law school approached Janet Thompson-Price (LLB ‘99), Partner at Atlantic Fusion Law Group and former instructor in immigration law at UNB, who agreed to handle the immigration work for Marta and her mother. The pair arrived in Fredericton at the end of June and are settling into their new community.

Marta was struck by the kindness of the New Brunswick legal community and their efforts to bring her and her mother to Fredericton.

“I appreciate so much that you have me here and the opportunity you provided to learn more about Canada. I am also very thankful that I was able to bring my mother with me.”

When asked about her first impression of the law school Marta said, “I notice that you work as a team—that you have a strong team. I see people being very proud of being a part of the law school and everything that's going on at this faculty and working here. People here are laid back; that's very impressive for a law faculty; people are really open-minded, and that's something that impressed me.” 

UNB Law thanks everyone who has already helped to bring Marta and her mother to Fredericton. Prof. Froc is currently working to extend Marta’s stay through Tri-Council federal funding programs. If you would like to support the Ukrainian Practitioner-in-Residence program, please contact lawdean@unb.ca.

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