The international law firm of White & Case has been a core pro bono support partner of Bridges Across Borders South East Asia Community Legal Education Initative (“BABSEACLE”) for more than four years. During this period of time teams from White & Case have successfully conducted three legal training workshops in Vientiane, Laos, in 2015 as well as supported a BABSEACLE Junior Legal Fellow in Laos. Building on the existing relationship with BABSEACLE, this program has now been extended to working with BABSEACLE in Myanmar to help assist and collaborate on the nationally developing clinical legal education programme. This support began at the Dagon University Department of Law, in Yangon, Myanmar, January 16-17, 2016 where White and Case helped to deliver a two day workshop on legal ethics, interview, counseling and negotiating skills. The event was an excellent opportunity for White & Case to strengthen the local legal community.
The eager workshop attendees were a mixture of 30 Dagon University undergraduate law students and law teachers. Although shy, at first, many of the attendees “opened up” to share their ambitions and interests with the White & Case team.
Three topics were discussed and examined, through a series of case studies, with role play and practical exercises woven into the sessions. These topics were client skills, legal ethics and joint venture negotiations, and attendees were divided into mixed groups of teachers and students, who were encouraged to work with each other, in order to apply the concepts under discussion, and to find meaningful and innovative legal solutions to case study problems and issues.
The training culminated in a spirited joint venture negotiation presentation, between the entrepreneurial “Mr Green” and a local restaurant owner “Ms Red”, with each respective client being represented by a team of eager students taking on the roles of lawyers. The quality of the mock negotiation was high, and resembled a real life commercial negotiation, in many ways. Over the course of the workshop, it was heartwarming to see participants showcase workshop-taught skills, and to see the gradual development of confidence and the willingness to engage in lateral thinking.
Students and lecturers, working together to develop the negotiation strategy, for Mr Green.
The White & Case team was impressed by the friendliness and warmth of all participants, and was encouraged to see the raw ambition of the next generation of Myanmar lawyers. Thanks go to BABSEACLE, for arranging this amazing opportunity, and for having organized both the workshop and the related logistics. We are looking forward to a return to Dagon University, and hope to have many more BABSEACLE work opportunities.
By Bella Khabbaz & Krystle Yau, Associate, White & Case