By Sophie Geoghegan

BABSEACLE and Khon Kaen University recently hosted the ‘Clinical Legal Education as a Means to Assist in Reforming the Thailand Legal Education System: Regional and International Experiences and Perspectives’ Conference. We travelled to Khon Kaen to help the Khon Kaen University law students set up and prepare for the arrival of the participants. There were over 100 participants from ten different countries both in the region as well as speakers from the US, Australia and China.

IMG_5273The conference was held on the 22nd and 23rd of November and covered topics pertaining to reforming the way law is taught in Thailand and the region as a whole, with the lessons, ideas and skills exchanged being useful and pertinent to all South East Asian countries. Participants discussed establishing and maintaining CLE clinics in their home countries and the best practices that South East Asia, as a region, should adopt in order to keep their legal education programmes up to date and allow them to compete with legal programmes around the world. Models from various countries were presented as well as exercises on lesson plans and ways to overcome common obstacles that faculties, professors and students face when introducing and strengthening CLE programmes.

It was a great success and everyone came away saying how much they had learnt and how they could and would use their newfound knowledge and inspiration to adapt in their home institution. As well as the two days of speeches and presentations there were conference lunches and dinners where participants could network and share ideas more informally. The dinner showcased delicious traditional Thai cuisine as well as the dancing skills of the Khon Kaen University students. The dancing fever spread from the stage to the floor as Bruce and Thip led all participants in a rendition of the ‘banana song and dance.’

The conference was followed by a network meeting attended by representatives from Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and Australia to discuss the establishment of a regional CLE network. The South East Asia Clinical Legal Education Association (ASEAN) was created under an interim committee who will begin to draft up the guiding principles of the Association and the best practice guidelines for CLE members of the association. This meeting will be followed up at the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) to be held in India starting on the 10th of December.