ELSA – The European Law Students' AssociationThe European Law Students' Association (ELSA) is an international, independent, non-political, not-for-profit student organization run by and for students and recent graduates interested in achieving academic and personal excellence in addition to their legal or law-related studies at university. ELSA aims at providing its members a platform to develop their existing skills and acquire new ones, to interact with fellow students and experienced practitioners from different states and legal systems around Europe, and to be equipped for a professional life in an international environment, through mutual understanding, intercultural cooperation and the large variety of activities and projects the Association offers.
ELSA Mission Statement
- A just world in which there is respect for human dignity and cultural diversity.
- To contribute to legal education, to foster mutual understanding and to promote social responsibility of law students and young lawyers.
- To develop professional and student relations of an international nature in the field of Law, to prepare members for professional life in an international environment, to contribute to the exchange of scholarly experience and to stimulate mutual understanding and friendship on the principle of equality of all its members.
- By providing opportunities for law students and young lawyers to learn about other cultures and legal systems in a spirit of critical dialogue and scientific co-operation. By assisting law students and young lawyers to be internationally minded and professionally skilled. By encouraging law students and young lawyers to act for the good of society.
ELSA consists of entities at three levels: local, national, and international. Together the three levels form the ELSA Network.
At the local level, ELSA is organised in Local Groups, established and functioning in conformity with the legal order permitted by national laws, and subscribing themselves to the aims and activities of ELSA. Local groups operate within a geographical area or at one or more collocated academic institutions. In Finland there are four local groups: ELSA Helsinki, ELSA Joensuu, ELSA Rovaniemi, and ELSA Turku. In total, the local groups cover 375 universities and faculties.
At the national level, ELSA is organised in National Groups being the organisations, which confederate local groups present in each respective State. They represent ELSA nationally and their local groups in the international network. The Finnish National Group is called ELSA Finland. In total there are over 40 national groups.
At the international level, the association is represented by the International Board, which operates in Brussels, Belgium for the duration of its one-year term.
Individuals become ELSA members by joining the Local Group at their university or faculty. Check our membership page for more information about ELSA membership benefits and how to join.Become an ELSA member!
Decision-making at ELSA
Similarly to the group structure of ELSA, decision-making activities at ELSA also take at three levels: local, national, and international. The Finnish local groups hold annual statutory meetings where (among other important things) a new Board is chosen via vote by the group's members. The board elections are usually followed by a call for directors, team members assisting the Board in its activities. Both the board and directors are chosen for a term of one year. No previous experience is required, so local group elections and directorships are a great way to get started with ELSA, so don't hesitate to join the statutory meetings or apply to be a director! The dates and details for applying vary between groups, so follow your group in the social media or contact them directly to get informed.
The national group ELSA Finland holds twice per year a National Council Meeting (NCM) where local groups discuss and vote on ELSA issues. In the spring meeting, the next National Board is chosen for a one-year term, also followed by a call for directors to assist them. In addition to elections and statutory meetings, the national meetings include workshops, topical discussions, and relaxed social programme. The national meetings are open for all members to join, and the event fees are usually relatively affordable. Joining the national team another great way to get involved with ELSA, so send your application!
At the International Council Meeting (ICM), held twice per year in varying European countries, ELSA National Groups exercise their voting rights on important ELSA issues, statutory proposals, and amendments. International Council Meetings last five days in autumn and a week in spring and consist of workshops, plenary meetings, conferences, and relaxed social programme. International meetings are a great way to experience international working environments, network with fellow students, and travel in Europe.
Activities and Areas
Most activities at ELSA are divided into several Areas. The three Key Areas are focused on organizing events and educational activities as well as career and networking opportunities for law students. The Supporting Area teams manage, coordinate, and provide financial and marketing support for the organization.
Academic Activities is one of the Key Areas of ELSA that aims to contribute to the legal education of law students and young lawyers through interactive practical activities by means of critical dialogue and scientific cooperation. It prepares them for a professional life and gives them an understanding of different legal systems.
Seminars and Conferences is one of the Key Areas of ELSA that aims to provide law students and young lawyers with a learning experience, interaction with professionals and new social and cultural environments by means of passive learning, preparing them for future responsibilities as members of the society.
Student Trainee Exchange Programme (STEP) is one of the key areas of ELSA that provides legal traineeships to law students and young lawyers.
Board Management, External Relations and Expansion is one of the main responsibilities of the President and involves organising and coordinating the work of board members.
Internal Management is one of the Supporting Areas of ELSA that executes stable management of the Association, ensuring constant development and cohesion within it. It is mainly responsible for Internal Affairs, Knowledge Management, Administration, Communication, Information Technology, Human Resources and Training.
Financial Management is one of the Supporting Areas of ELSA that provides financial support for the organization. The Treasurer is in charge of the financial management of ELSA, and is responsible for the financial planning, management of ELSA’s assets, accounting and billing.
Marketing is one of the Supporting Areas of ELSA which aims to raise the awareness of ELSA in society. It provides marketing materials and strategies for the realisation of the activities and projects of all areas of ELSA in cooperation with the respective officers. Marketing builds relationships with different target groups and makes sure ELSA is presented to them according to their needs.
ELSA has a member publication, the Synergy Magazine. Established in 1987, the Synergy Magazine contains articles written by students, lawyers, and academics, and it is distributed internationally. The magazine is published approximately twice per year, one edition in the fall and one edition in the spring. Themes of the magazine include Human Rights topics, international legal developments, as well as ELSA members sharing their experiences.
The Patron of ELSA
Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has been the Patron of ELSA since February 2013. ELSA is both honoured and proud that Mr. Jagland accepted to support the Association, which corroborates the close cooperation of ELSA with the Council of Europe.
Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland is a former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway. He has also been the President of the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) and the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards annually the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009, he was elected as the 13th Secretary General of the Council of Europe, while he was trusted to continue holding the position for a second term to be ended in 2019.
As the Secretary General, Mr. Jagland has the overall responsibility for the strategic management of the Council of Europe. During his first term, the World Forum for Democracy was launched and the report “State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe” was issued.