In November 2010, BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation held a very successful national conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Many universities responded to that conference, saying they were interested in starting a CLE program… so in February 2011, they followed up with a two-week road trip to visit as many of them as they could!

BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation representatives visited nine universities to discuss setting up a CLE program. They met with law professors at Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai Rajabhat University, the University of Phayao, Lampang Rajabhat University, Payap University, Mahasarakham University, Northeastern University, Muban Chombueng Rajabhat University and Thammasat University. In a small car they travelled from the North to the Northeast to Bangkok and South of Bangkok – wherever there was a university wanting to talk about CLE, they were there!

Bruce Lasky and Wendy Morrish from BABSEACLE and Naruedol (Don) Wannarat from CLE Foundation over 2 weeks travelled overland allowing them to see more of Thailand “up close” and to learn more about how daily life is lived here.  More specifically, it allowed them to see and study the local communities the potential university partners who want their help.

They met with university officials and gave presentations on What CLE is? Why it is necessary? and How do we do CLE? All of the university representatives agreed that the CLE program is a good way to develop law education and give the law students a better legal education while at the same helping to provide access to justice for under-served communities in their area.  Some of the universities already had a law centre that provided community service, but they felt BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation could help them develop a much stronger program for those centres – and that an accredited CLE program would better benefit both the students and their community.

BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation are looking forward to working with all these universities to help them build strong CLE programs. The common goal is to make the CLE course a core requirement in law faculties throughout the country. Several universities have committed to working to make CLE a subject in their law program starting 2012.

It was very exciting and gratifying for Bruce and Wendy and Don to meet so many enthusiastic law professors and law students. All of them were interested in learning more. Several of the universities they met with will send law-student interns to work with BABSEACLE and the BABSEACLE Foundation throughout this year.

One of the universities visited, Muban Chombueng Rajabhat University asked BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation to come visit them and hold a CLE workshop for their students. 70 law students came to that workshop and all of them found the workshop interesting and educational – and all of them are excited about working in a CLE program.  Demonstrating the strong CLE network we are building, three law professors from Mae Fah Luang University come to help present the Muban Chombueng Rajabhat University workshop and to share what they learned in setting up their CLE program. This is indeed a good indicator for the CLE movement in Thailand!

BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation will sign MOUs with all the universities they visited to helping them set up or strengthen their CLE program. The fledgling CLE network is already fairly strong in Thailand, as you can see from these workshop photos, visiting professors from one university CLE program helps facilitate lesson plans at a university that wants to start a CLE program.

Following up on this successful trip, BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation will be presenting a CLE skills workshop for professors and law students at the University of Phayao in April 2011. BABSEACLE and BABSEACLE Foundation hopes to see attending the workshop professors and law students from many of the Thailand universities they recently visited.

The CLE movement is important to start to make good lawyers and law education now and in the future. Minority and under-served communities will have access to justice as these young lawyers are learning how to practise good lawyering skills. And the community will teach the young lawyers why they need a social justice ethos – the responsibility of providing access to justice for those who would not otherwise be able to use the law to protect themselves.

BABSEACLE, BABSEACLE Thailand Foundation and our partner universities will work together to build this movement in Thailand… and throughout the region. Everyone benefits from a strong CLE movement!