By: Sophie Giguère, BABSEACLE Intern and law student at the University of Toronto
Sabaidee (Hello in Lao language) My name is Sophie Giguère, a BABSEACLE intern, and I recently participated in a placement at the National University of Laos, Faculty of Law and Political Science, Clinical Legal Education (FLP CLE). After completing the training sessions in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I felt ready to embark on the next step of my summer journey in Southeast Asia to neighbouring Laos. I joined the BABSEACLE Laos team, Thip Nouansyvong and Pavina Thephithuck, and FLP CLE Director, Ajarn Bounleuth Xaphakdy, in their efforts to run the clinical legal education program at the University clinic.
Clinical legal education programs which strengthen legal education, instill legal ethics and pro bono character, and simultaneously provide various types of legal aid services are relatively recent in Laos. Due to these one of the challenges facing the clinic is a lack of awareness about the availability of free legal services. To solve this problem, the student volunteers and interns at FLP CLE filmed a promotional video about the clinic that will be distributed to the community in Laos. The film is in Lao to suit the target audience of vulnerable Lao citizens and is supplemented by English subtitles.
The film is narrated by Lao student volunteers Khampui (Pui) Bounthavilai and Thongxay (Go) Siharlart and was filmed and directed by Krirkrit (Fluak) Ponlakhetpaiboon, an intern from Khon Kaen University, Thailand. The emcees being by introducing FLP CLE and its history, from its beginnings in 2007 to the current program at the Faculty of Law and Political Science, which engages 42 Lao students as volunteers. Pui goes on to welcome clients by showing them the clinic entrance, reception desk, and confidential consultation room. She explains to potential clients that they can access legal aid by contacting the clinic by phone, e-mail, or in person, and outlines the directions to the clinic. Go reassures potential clients that they are welcome to receive legal aid even if they come alone and without prior preparation, and specifies that FLP CLE can help in the areas of commercial, family, land, succession, and labour law.
The people I met during my time at FLP CLE truly made my placement an eye-opening and memorable experience. Thank you all for this great opportunity. The CLE program at the Faculty of Law and Political Science is a great opportunity for Lao law students to develop social justice, pro bono values, and practical skills outside the classroom and I hope that this video will increase its visibility. Our video will be posted online shortly.