On the 14th and 15th of December 2013, CLE Foundation together with BABSEA CLE and DLA Piper conducted the Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility training workshop at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, Vietnam. The workshop was also supported by DLA Piper, Herbert Smith Freehills, BABSEA CLE Australia, BABSEA CLE Singapore and Australian Government Solicitor.
The participants included lecturers from the National University of Laos, law students and law lecturers from different universities, practicing lawyers in Vietnam as well as Claire Donse and Jonathan Lynch, who are both international pro bono lawyers from DLA Piper who were invited to conduct the workshop as trainers. The workshop provided ethically-grounded legal education through CLE methodology. Different interactive teaching methods were used which allowed the participants to discuss ethical issues, professional conduct, and the law. It also generated pro bono and social justice awareness to the participants, especially to law students who are the future lawyers.
The lessons taught covered following topics including; What ethics is and why it is important for lawyers, Duties of a lawyer to a client, Confidentiality, Conflict of interests, and Role of the lawyer in promoting access to justice and what is/is not pro bono. These lessons were selected from chapters from the Pro bono, Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Curriculum which BABSEA CLE has developed with pro bono lawyers, academics, clinicians and non-profit professionals.
The curriculum is planned to be tested and delivered by lawyers, clinicians, lecturers or other legal professionals. In this project, CLE Foundation assisted in developing and delivering training materials to law students, lecturers, lawyers and communities in the region.
Legal fellow from CLE foundation worked alongside with law lecturers from Vietnam, legal fellow and professor from Australia who worked and volunteered for BABSEA CLE, to develop a CLE training workshop for law students before they provided community legal education. CLE foundation’s legal fellow and volunteers from BABSEA CLE also assisted in the teachings. This project was planned to provide the community education on Acquisition of Thai Nationality to five communities who have personal legal status problems in the Phayao province, Thailand. Many participants could not understand or speak Thai. Therefore, cross-cultural communication was our biggest challenge. To get the most out of it, the teaching and materials needed to be interactive and easy to understand.The important thing was to make the participants feel comfortable and not feel divided between highbrow and rural people. Besides providing the community teaching, we also visited the villagers’ house to interview and collect information about their problems.
CLE Foundation provides weekly classes for the women at Wildflower Home, who often come from poor or marginalized communities and have little or no knowledge of legal matters. These classes teach basic legal rights and promote human rights awareness, emphasizing the importance of assertion of these rights. The regular classes raise the young women’s awareness of and knowledge about their legal and human rights in everyday situations, with the result that they are empowered to deal confidently with such issues in the future. The Initiative educates specifically about subjects that the young women are likely to encounter when they move on from the Wildflower Home and are establishing their own independent lives.
In collaboration with BABSEA CLE, CLE Foundation hosts a number of international volunteers, legal experts and interns from different countries. Many others come from neighbouring countries in the region including Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia. BABSEA CLE, who is partnering with CLE Foundation on this project, runs an externship program for students with many coming from law schools in the United States. BABSEA CLE also has a formal externship partnership with Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Participating interns, volunteers, and visiting experts all have a chance to teach and observe the lessons at Wildflower, allowing them to learn about the different cultures of the women (mostly Thai and indigenous) and the other interns (from all over the world).From this, participants can learn about local law and social issues and compare these to their home countries. After their experience at Wildflower, these international beneficiaries can learn from this exposure to real world problems as well as gaining an ethical sense of responsibility to the public and to marginalized communities, which they can then apply at home.
This year, Wildflower Legal Education Initiative has support from the United States Embassy under the Small Grant Program for Outreach to Society 2013. Their support to develop the curriculum to meet the women’s needs, and provide for the interactive teaching materials, which is a highly effective way to teach concepts that are sometimes not straightforward, is very meaningful for this project.