I am a retired legal adviser from England. I started my voluntary experience here shortly after arriving in Chiang Mai in November this year. I had learnt about the organisation and became interested from a short conversation I had with Arnold Lasky, a permanent volunteer, the last time I was Chiang Mai in June.
My experience began a couple of days before the Access to Justice Fair in 2013, which I attended. I helped where I could, sitting at the BABSEACLE desk and answering questions where possible. Inevitably, I had to refer people to more established members of the organisation, such as Kevin Morley, one of the BABSEACLE Co-Directors, for more in depth knowledge of its work.
The Fair was a really good introduction for me to other organisations involved in access to justice and/or services for the disadvantaged in the local communities. It was clearly a very useful opportunity also for participating organisations to get to know and to network with each other. My only disappointment was that the Fair did not attract more members of the public, an issue that I feel confident BABSEACLE will seek to improve upon for next year’s event.
Most of the rest of my days here have been proof-reading and editing Kevin Morley’s, Clinical Legal Education – An English Skills and Practice Workbook. As the title suggests, the book combines information and exercises on CLE principles and practices for readers whose first language is not English, thus also providing lessons in English Language. My work has also involved formulating prescribed/guide answers to the exercises for teachers to assess student responses (where the Workbook is used in a pedagogical context).
Reading the Workbook’s draft chapters has given me further insight into CLE as an objective and method and, in respect of certain topics, I have been able to utilise my UK links in academia to explore and clarify them.
Weekly staff meetings have been valuable in filling in my knowledge of the considerable range of work in which BABSEACLE is involved. I still do not pretend to know everything about the organisation’s projects but I am impressed with the way my colleagues – paid workers, externs and volunteers – are able to plan and implement programmes of work with energy and intelligence.
The next big thing for the organisation is the Trio for Justice sponsored run/walk in January, 2014 and I am looking forward to helping out and participating in whatever ways I can.
I am pleased to have volunteered for BABSEACLE. In promoting access to justice and the rule of law, the organisation’s work provides a valuable impetus for the future development of these important social objectives.