Law schools send students to Myanmar

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Law students from schools around the country are travelling to parts of Asia in an effort to increase their understanding of access to justice.

For the first time, University of Queensland students travelled to Myanmar in partnership with BABSEACLE.

“Myanmar is in a transitional state,” UQ Pro Bono Centre director and clinical legal education coordinator Monica Taylor told Australasian Lawyer.

“It’s going through a big transition in terms of local people’s trust of former legal systems, the trust in the courts, the judiciary and those sorts of dispute resolution forums.”

Students work mainly to help local law students develop their capability in the English language, in relation to the law.

“[English] is the language of instruction for learning the law and obtaining a law degree,” Taylor said.
“Even though it’s not the first language, that is how law is taught in that country and so building language proficiency is very important to helping them realise their potential as practitioners.”

The program isn’t just benefitting local students but the interns as well.  Beginning with a week of training in Yangon, the program covers interactive teaching methods, access to justice and promoting an ethical legal profession.

“From having relatively little knowledge of Myanmar, I now understand the barriers marginalised people face in accessing justice and I have been able to impart knowledge and solutions to the students at Taunggyi University,” said UQ student Phoebe Kelly.

“Not only does the clinical legal education program allow the Burmese students to become pro-bono minded, it has the same effect on Australian students.”

BABSEACLE runs programs throughout the Asian region, but this was the first student program to Myanmar.

“I’ve become interested in potentially working in development where I can combine my legal expertise with my interest in economics and politics,” said UQ student Ashley Chandler.