Virtual Reality at Australian National University College of Law

By Simon Rice, OAM, BA LLB MEd. Associate Professor; Director, Law Reform and Social Justice. ANU College of Law, Australian National University

A significant development in the curriculum at the law school of the Australian National University in Canberra has been a ‘virtual’ clinic, offered in partnership with international NGOs as part of the law school’s Law Reform and Social Justice Program (  One of those NGOs is BABSEACLE.

Students in the ‘International Social Justice Clinic’ are placed with BABSEACLE as interns; what makes the internship a bit different is that the students never leave Canberra.  The internship is done from a distance: the students are supervised electronically, using email, Skype, and the University’s course website.

Projects assigned to the 2011 ANU clinic interns

Promoting pro bono legal practice through legal clinics in Vietnam

BABSEACLE plans to hold a symposium for legal professionals in Viet Nam and others from Southeast Asia to promote pro bono legal practice. A background paper will:

  • Investigate the situation of legal clinics and private legal practice in Viet Nam and/or Laos.
  • Define pro bono legal practice.
  • Explain the existence of a lawyer’s ethical obligation to engage in pro bono legal work.
  • Outline models for engagement in pro bono legal work.
  • Describe how pro bono legal practice might be conducted in a Vietnamese and/or Laotian context.
  • Describe how legal clinics at Vietnamese and/or Laotian law schools could promote pro bono legal practice.

The background paper will be supported by overheads, handouts and group activities for the symposium.

Developing juvenile justice programs for Laotian legal clinics

BABSEACLE plans a research project with the Faculty of Law and Political Science CLE Program (FLP CLE) at the National University of Laos, exploring various models of clinical legal education programs. One of these is the potential of developing a juvenile justice clinic for street kids who are charged and detained in drug rehabilitation centres. The research has included:

  • Investigating the situation of juvenile justice, street children and drug rehabilitation centres in Laos.
  • Surveying and reporting on juvenile justice clinics internationally.
  • Describing various models that may enable FLP to run such a clinic.

Research will be supported by overheads, handouts and group activities for a workshop with FLP CLE.

The students work in teams on current projects; they maintain logs, report regularly, and are assessed on their satisfactory completion of their tasks. Meanwhile, at the University, the students attend classes on topics such as project design and management; governance and culture in Southeast Asia; and international aid and development. They are assessed on reflective journals, class presentations, and a research essay on a topic related to their internship project.

2012 pro bono project interns: Carolyn Skorupa, Julianne Tonini and Michael Brown