By Nashayagal Rattanavorragant, Director, Community Legal Clinic, Muban Chombueng Rajabhat University (MCRU)
Rajabhat University was created by the government in 2004, and given a mission to do research to support sustainable development in two neighboring provinces, to provide education to students and educational services to the community – and to fulfil this mission while preserving local Thai culture.
Because we have responsibility for Ratchaburi and Samut-Songkhram Provinces, we must also consider the management and sustainability and other environmental factors of development projects that affect the National Forest and other natural resources.
These obligations make Rajabhat University different from other universities in Thailand. In the Law Program, we realize these obligations by providing legal support to the local community. You can see that the intersection of our mandate to do research, to educate and to provide educational services to the community is exactly where CLE comes in – it is where we meet all three requirements.
Of course, our CLE program aims to educate both students and community members. We also aim very high academically, to teach best practices for professional research and to teach students to be able to pass on this research — to pass on knowledge and technological development to the community, in a way that preserves the art and culture of the people.
In 2011, the CLE program became part of an accredited course and now operates its own clinic. Students may volunteer to work at the clinic or they may register for credit in the CLE course and work in the clinic. Collaborative teamwork is an essential part of the clinic experience for law students, whether they are volunteers or enrolled in the course.
The legal clinic provides legal advice, community teaching and legal aid to the people of Ratchaburi and Samut-Songkhram Provinces. Our work can involve problem-solving with community members and government ministries. We are always working toward the integration of education management, academic services and research, in order to provide the highest benefit to our students, professors and society.
MCRU’s Community Law Clinic has grown a lot in a short time, with over 50 students currently in the program. We are grateful for the support we have received from the MCRU Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, the Department of Peoples’ Rights Protection and Legal Aid, Ratchaburi, the Ratchaburi Provincial Court, Ratchaburi Civil Court, Provincial Ratchaburi Police, and local administrative sectors and schools – all of which enable our Law Clinic to serve the community to the best of our ability.