By National Economics University’s Students (Vietnam)
We are students of the Clinical Legal Education at the National Economics University (NEU), Vietnam. From 6th January to 10th January, we took part in the “ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEKEND”, which was held by Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE), in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We learnt many things about CLE in other countries. It was a great opportunity for us to learn more about CLE.
Students of Community Legal Education, from the National Economics University take part in the ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEKEND 2015
The weekend included a 2-day training, focusing on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility as well as many other access to justice awareness raising activities. As part of this events, through the lectures and practical activities, we have learned much about our responsibility to provide legal services to the poor and how to do this, and how other Southeast Asian countries, like Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, implement this professional and moral obligation. We participated in discussions about the barriers of justice, and we solved hypothetical situations in this regard. We also played a game called “silent”, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. After taking part in all these activities, we then had a greater understanding of the difficulty of describing what we would say in order to protect ourselves from legal risks. Since then, we understood and learnt about common obstacles that would often prevent people from accessing justice, such as: languages spoken; financial situations; different cultures; the media; politics; and laws. After completing all these activities, we are now much more aware of the significance and importance of the pro bono work that we do.
At the trainings, we met lawyers, from all over the world, including Canada, the USA, and the UK, who talked about the ethics and professional responsibilities of lawyers and law students, which are sometimes difficult to apply, especially when properly and zealously defending a client. In doing so we also learned the importance of fairness to an adversary- e.g., maintaining, the secrecy of a client’s confidence and secret information, while fully complying with the oppositions’ demands for discovery. Exercises like this made legal ethics much more clear for all of us and the other participants.
We not only attended access to justice related trainings but also participated in the “6th Trio for Justice” run/walk event. Completion of the full 10 km event, made us aware that, although the path to justice may be difficult, it can be successfully followed, if we are truly determined to succeed.
A student determined to complete the 10km
The workshop and weekend not only provided us with knowledge about CLE, it also aroused a sense of responsibility, in us, toward future legal work in the community. We hope that we will have more chances to participate in events like this, in the future.