by Thip Nouansyvong, Laos National CLE Coordinator

It was such very a wonderful opportunity to have attended the 7th Worldwide Conference of the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) from December 10-18, 2013. The conference provided an opportunity for law lecturers, law students, legal practitioners, jurists and social activists to acquire new ideas, models, and skills for the use of education to promote social justice.

The conference also explored a number of thematic justice education topical sessions, otherwise referred to as streams, including Legal Empowerment and Economic Justice For Rural and Marginalized Communities, Health and Environmental 1471986_10152100794004920_336782826_n-1Justice, Human Rights and Rule of Law, Gender Justice, Equality and Violence Against Women and Children, Legal Ethics, Professional Responsibility, and Promotion of Pro Bono, Legal Literacy (Street Law, Legal Awareness and Citizen Participation), ADR and Informal Justice Systems, New Initiatives in Justice Education.

This was done  through a mix of plenary and small-group sessions, with an emphasis on interactive presentations by justice educators from around the worlds.

At the conference I co-streamed and coordinated with Aj[1]. Wendy Morrish, who had contacts with all the lead presenters and co-presenters in our stream. The stream coordinators were assigned a specific stream in pair with another person and our job was to help organize and ensure that the session presenters in our streams were prepared. As well, we had to ensure that important program and conference information was obtained from and given to them. I was very anxious being a co-stream coordinator due to my lack of experience and especially becuase i was presenting to an international audience. However with the assistance of Aj. Wendy and also drawing from the lessons I have previously learnt, I was able to undertake my role with confidence.

The conference also provided me with an opportunity to give a presentation on the session titled, “A Model of Intersection and Collaboration Between Pro Bono and Justice Education: Experiences in Southeast Asia”. At this session, I was a lead presenter and worked with my co-presenters Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh, Le Nguyen Gia Thien from Vietnam and Dr. Khin Mar Yee from Myanmar. The session was a success judging from the engagement of the participants. I believe that the success of the session was due to teamwork as well as sharing our experiences in each country. We further discussed a number of topics including; how we corroborated pro bono work into justice education, what were some of the challenges and how to overcome those challenges..

While attending the conference, we also had informal meetings regarding the Southeast Asia Clinical Legal Education Association (SEACLEA). This meeting was attended by a number of representatives from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The aim of the meeting was to discuss and to develop the principles of SEACLEA. The principles were first drafted by Aj. Bruce A. Lasky after a regional CLE conference which was held in Khon Kaen, Thailand in November.

1479232_700495586630327_562633360_oWhile the SEACLEA has an interim steering committee, those at the meeting also agreed that each country should have the ability to elect representatives from their respective country to form a permanent steering committee. The meeting also discussed the means and methods of finding support for the SEACLEA in the future.

I also participated in many other sessions where I learnt and shared my experiences with other presenters. By listening to other presenters, it provided us with many ideas to develop the CLE a model in our respective countries.

Furthermore, I was also participated in the TOT workshop at National Law University Delhi. At the workshop I learnt many useful lessons, in particular the initiative in-house consultation as it related to my work in Laos. I also had a chance to meet with Professor Don Peters, from the University of Florida, who has more than 40 years experience in clinic work and who will also be coming to work with me in Laos in January 2014.

Attending the conference was such a great opportunity. I believe that the FLP CLE in Laos, in particular the in-house consultation clinic, will continue to move forward and become a strong clinic. This will then help to lead the CLE movement spread throughout the entire country.

[1] Aj. Is an abbreviation in the Laos and Thai language for the word Ajaarn that means Lecturer