Phuong Nguyen Tue, Curriculum Development Project Manager, BABSEACLE

There has been an increase in the development of pro- bono and justice education collaborative initiatives in a number of countries in the Southeast Asia region. A core component of these initiatives include law students, lawyers, law lecturers and professors, working together to offer their free services to vulnerable and marginalized communities.

One of the developments in pro bono and justice education was the formation of the SE Asia Pro bono Conferences and Workshops.

The 1st and 2nd SE Asia Pro Bono Conference and Workshop was held in Laos and Vietnam. Representatives in attendance

960177_315496901921960_493266661_n-Mcame from the education, private and public sectors, along with key policy makers in the region and worldwide experts. All attendees came to share their experienced in pro bono work. These conferences really do help to spread the pro- bono “seeds” and encourage pro-bono culture in the region.

There are real examples and stories about collaborations among institutions, organizations, companies, firms, private and public sectors which show that this works. This includes the current “Pro Bono, Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Curriculum Development Project”. In this project, experienced pro bono lawyers from large international law firms including  Herbert Smith Freehills, DLA Piper and its not for profit affiliate organization New Perimeter as well as the Australian Government Solicitor-(AGS), BABSEACLE  and BABSEACLE Foundation are currently developing a teach/deliver curriculum on Pro Bono, Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Goals of the project are to;

  •  Educate law students, lawyers, communities on the meaning and concept of pro-bono, ethics and professional responsibility.
  • Develop materials and resources on pro-bono, ethics and professional responsibility to be publically available online as teaching tools to be used for training in law firms, corporates, law schools, communities etc.
  • Instill in and inspire law students and lawyers to hold ethical values and to apply these values in the course of their day to day practice and other settings.
  • Demonstrate means and methods of collaboration among legal professionals across the regions in boosting social awareness of pro-bono, ethics and professional responsibility.
  • Create a two – way connection between practice and academics by way of bringing practicing expertise of lawyers into theories/philosophies and ethical values/philosophies into the practice of the laws/legal systems.
  • Provide communities with reliable resources for legal aid and legal services.

A series of training workshops were held in different universities in the region as part of this project. On the 14th and 15th of October 2013, the 1st workshop on legal ethics and professional responsibility was held at the University of Economics and Law in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for law lecturers, law students and lawyers in Vietnam. Trainers of the workshop included lawyers from DLA Piper, Australian Government Solicitor and BABSEACLE teams in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

In December, the training team gathered in Hanoi to hold the 2nd workshop for a number of CLE universities in the north and center of Vietnam before heading to Lao, Thailand and Myanmar in 2014.

Other workshops and training events that were conducted included a training workshop on “Legal Drafting” for students 20131014_101727-Mfrom the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLP) Laos provided by While & Case law firm. Herbert Smith Freehills also conducted a workshop on “Negotiation Skills” in Laos and Vietnam. The Irish Rule of Law International workshops took place at The Foreign Trade University (Hanoi), Hue University and Ho Chi Minh University in Vietnam focusing on Counseling, Interviewing and Mediation Skills”. Finally, numerous universities from the north, middle and south of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos, with BABSEACLE, BABSEACLE Foundation, DLA Piper/New Perimeter, the Open Society Justice Initiative, assisted in the broad development of justice and clinical legal education programs throughout Myanmar.

I believe the pro bono movement in the region will definitely grow as the rationale can be understood by anyone, regardless of cultures and nations. That rationale is to help the poor and marginalized and to build a better community and future.

BABSEACLE would like to announce that our next conference will be partnering with the Law Society Singapore August 9th until the 11th. Details coming soon in the annual BABSEACLE magazine.