My name is Bounthy Xaechao, and I am from the north Laos province of Xayyabouly. In 2013, when I was a first year student at National University of Laos, a senior law student came to my class and explained how Clinical Legal Education (CLE) trains you, gives you experience, develops your legal skills and provides the opportunity to help poor people. That speech inspired and motivated me to deepen and develop myself through CLE. After I passed the interview, I became a Political Science Clinical Legal Education (FLPCLE) junior volunteer, and was trained by the CLE program’s senior volunteers and teachers.
Three years have passed now, and I have learned many things that I didn’t know before. This not only helped me develop my skills and knowledge, it also benefited my academic grades.
Having been previously inspired and motivated, I went on to conduct community teachings, at local high schools, where I practice the theory that I’ve learnt, share my experiences and use this knowledge and skill set to teach the general population about law. I think that this is the best way to sharpen my legal skills, and at the same time, to help people, to strengthen access to justice and to advance legal knowledge, across the country.
When, in September, 2015, Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE), the international law firm, and one of the global pro bono leaders, White & Case, and FLPCLE opened applications and to all CLE students, for the position of junior legal fellow, I became very excited about this opportunity… and yes, I got it. Everything that I have already learnt, as a volunteer, will support me in this new role, and I can help people, more than before, while simultaneously increasing my expertise.
A legal fellow has different responsibilities: working in conjunction with the CLE Clinic Director and CLE Committee; money management; budgeting and reporting; monitoring and evaluation of CLE projects; assisting the project coordinators, trainers and managers; assisting in the facilitation and supervision of CLE students volunteers; assisting in the facilitation, placement and supervision of BABSEACLE interns and volunteers, who are placed in Laos; and other reasonable actions that are necessary to develop and achieve the CLE and access to justice objectives of BABSEACLE and White & Case, regionally, and those of the FLP and BABSEACLE, in Laos.
By Bounthy Xaechao, BABSEACLE’s Laos Legal Fellow