European Law Students' Association

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The European Law Students' Association
ELSA Logo.png
Abbreviation ELSA
Formation May 4, 1981; 37 years ago (1981-05-04)
Purpose To contribute to legal education, to foster mutual understanding and to promote social responsibility of law students and young lawyers.
Headquarters Blv. Général Jacques 239, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Region served
Mainly Europe – projects worldwide
50,000 members in 43 countries
Official language
President of ELSA International
Anastasia Kalinina[1]
Main organ
International Council
Remarks ELSA is the world's largest independent, non-political and non-profit making law students' association

The European Law Students' Association (ELSA) is an international, independent, non-political, non-profit organisation run by and for law students. ELSA-activities comprise a large variety of academic and professional events that are organised to fulfill the vision of ELSA.


Five law students from Austria, Hungary, Poland and West Germany founded ELSA on 4 May 1981. Today ELSA is the world's largest independent law students association and it is represented at nearly 350 law faculties in 43 countries across Europe with membership of 50,000 students and young lawyers.

ELSA-activities comprise a large variety of academic and professional events that are organised to fulfill the vision of ELSA and in order to provide its members opportunities to enhance their skills and to interact with each other.


Being established in 1981 The European Law Students' Association – ELSA is today the world's largest independent, non-political and non-profit making law students' association comprising membership of 50,000 members.

ELSA members are supposed to be open-minded, internationally oriented/targeted and multilingual and may more easily acquire a broader cultural understanding than other law students. The association's aim is to give direct experiences with foreign legal systems and business practices.

ELSA's 350 university-based local groups and 43 national groups as well as the international board are entirely student-managed and administered. Similar to a small franchise, each group creates its own plan of operation in line with the overall goals of the association. Each group recruits and trains its volunteer executives and markets ELSA's programmes to the academic and business community. In combination with the university curriculum, ELSA prepares its members for their future entry into professional life, especially when working in an international environment.

"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".


  • 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.
  • Assisting law students and young lawyers to be internationally minded and professionally skilled.
  • Encouraging law students and young lawyers to act for the good of society.

During the second half of the 1990s, the organisation developed significant activities in the field of human rights and international justice, thus contributing to the progressive development of international law and the protection of human dignity. Projects such as the ELSA Law School on Peace in Bosnia Herzegovina (University of Sarajevo, 1995), the Arusha School on International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Tanzania, 1995, 1996 and 1998) and the Salzburg Law School on International Criminal Law (University of Salzburg, 1999) attested the impact that ELSA was having in promoting the Rule of Law in the international legal order. At the Rome Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court of the UN (FAO, Rome, 1998), ELSA participated with the largest delegation (over 80 law students and young lawyers) sent by any organisation accredited to that conference (see the Final Act of the Rome Diplomatic Conference).

Institutional relations[edit]

ELSA has gained consultative status with several United Nations bodies. In 1994, ELSA was granted Consultative Status in Category C in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and in 1997 ELSA obtained Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council). In addition UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) is inviting ELSA delegations to participate in their sessions.

In 2000, ELSA was granted Participatory Status with the Council of Europe. This cooperation was further widened with the signing of a Human Rights Partnership between Council of Europe and ELSA in 2008.

Furthermore, ELSA has a co-operation agreement with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). In October 2005, ELSA obtained Observer Status with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).


ELSA's activities fall into three key areas:

  • Seminars & Conferences (S&C)
    • Lectures
    • Panel discussions
    • Seminars and conferences (both local and international)
    • Law schools
    • Study visits
    • Institutional visits
  • Academic Activities (AA)
    • "Lawyers at Work" (L@W) events
    • Study abroad programme
    • Legal research group
    • Essay competitions
    • Moot courts
    • International delegations
    • ELSA Moot Court Competition on WTO Law
    • European Human Rights Moot Court Competition
  • Student Trainee Exchange Programme (STEP)
    The Student Trainee Exchange Programme (STEP), makes it possible for law students and young lawyers to gain working experience abroad.
    It is a trainee exchange programme that enables law students and young lawyers to gain first hand experience of the substantive and procedural law as well as the culture of another country. The traineeships are between 2 weeks and 2 years and can take place in any law related area; law firms, courts, public institutions, banks, in-house legal departments, consulting firms and international organisations.
    Before and during the traineeship, ELSA provides assistance with finding accommodation, applying for visas, when necessary, and organising social events to involve the trainee in the daily life of the local community.


ELSA sends delegations to:

  • United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
    • Commission on the Status of Women
    • Sub-commission on Human Rights
    • Commission for Social Development
    • Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
  • United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
    • Session I – Working Group on Procurement
    • Session II – Working Group on International Arbitration and Conciliation
    • Session III – Working Group on Transport Law
    • Session VI – Working Group on Insolvency Law
  • Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • Council of Europe – International Non Governmental Organisations (INGO)
  • Committees
    • Civil Society and Democracy
    • Culture, Science and Education
    • Human Rights
    • Europe and Global Challenges
    • Gender Equality
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
    • Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)
    • Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP)
    • Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT)
    • Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP)
    • Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to the WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA)

ELSA International[edit]

ELSA International consists of the International Board and its Directors and Assistants.

The International Board is the supreme executive body of the association. Its members are elected at the Spring International Council Meeting for a one-year period. The International Board is responsible for the overall co-ordination of the organisation as a whole; including the support of member Groups both locally and nationally, the collection and redistribution of information throughout the network to ensure the fullest participation possible at events.

The International Board also co-ordinates and develops ELSA's collaboration with various international organisations and institutions, governments, law firms and companies across Europe. The Board consists of seven positions being; President, Secretary General, Treasurer, Vice President Academic Activities, Vice President Seminars & Conferences, Vice President Student Trainee Exchange Programme and Vice President Marketing.

The members of the International Board work full-time at the international headquarter in Brussels on a voluntary basis.

International Board 2017/2018:[2]

President: Anastasia Kalinina

Secretary General: Narmin Aliyeva

Treasurer: Elena Maglio

Vice President for Marketing: Krzysztof Rumpel

Vice President for Academic Activities: Kerli Kalk

Vice President for Moot Court Competitions: Michelle Goossens

Vice President for Seminars & Conferences: Deniz Hatemi

Vice President for Student Trainee Exchange Programme: Aneta Korcová


ELSA knows its own International Trainers Pool (ITP) and several National Trainers Pools (NTP). The members of the ITP are selected by the International Board after a training week, based on skills and experience. Topics of training are diverse, and include, but are not limited to: General ELSA Knowledge, Project Management, Presentation Skills, Negotiation Skills, Time Management, Communication Skills, Chairing Meetings, Conflict Resolution, Planning, Transition and specific area related trainings.

Members of the ITP conduct their work on a voluntary basis and are therefore not paid. However, the national or local group requesting for a training is supposed to pay for the travel costs and arrange accommodation for the trainer(s).

A training can take from several hours to a whole week. It should be mentioned that it is not possible to give a training on one topic in a few hours. This rather can be called an introduction. Therefore, for more serious trainings, at least a full day or weekend should be reserved.

ELSA Network[edit]

ELSA is a unique and growing network of 50 000 young people from more than 350 universities in 43 countries across Europe and into Asia. ELSA currently has members and observers in Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, ELSA co-operates with other student organisations across the world, for instance Asian Law Students' Association in Asia.


Synergy is a biannual publication that is printed in 10,000 copies and distributed throughout the network. It contains articles written by members, academics and institutions. The magazine was first published as a newsletter back in 1987.

Selected Papers on European Law
ELSA Selected Papers on European Law (ELSA SPEL) provided a compilation of legal papers concerning law with European aspects. ELSA SPEL provides an international readership with a source of literature that rarely finds its way to the regular legal periodicals: High quality papers written by students in the scope of their legal courses as well as academics. ELSA SPEL was cancelled in spring 2010



ELSA holds several high-profile partnerships, among them AIJA, Council of Europe, IE Law School, London School of English, World Trade Institute and WTO, Queen Mary School of Law.


See also[edit]


External links[edit]