STL Public Interest Advocacy Clinic Visited Myanmar
Guided by Associate Clinical Professor Nicholas Frayn, STL’s Public Interest Advocacy Clinic visited Myanmar to explore public interest legal issues in February 2019. The four students, Rao Yifan, Chen Xingwu, Tang Lixiang and Zhu Runze, and their professor visited local NGOs, law firms and international organizations of public interest law. These organizations included International Legal Foundation, Rule of Law Center, USAID Promoting the Rule of Law in Myanmar Project, Independent Lawyers Association of Myanmar and Yangon Justice Center. The students also participated in teaching at East Yangon University, focusing on legal education in China and the world.
Student Zhu Runze mentioned that it was a very meaningful journey with all the visits and communications. Other team members were also impressed by the wisdom and enthusiasm of local legal practitioners. In addition, Tang Lixiang said, “we shared the experience of STL’s law education, and the legal systems and judicial practices in China and America. It feels right to achieve input and output at the same time”.
Professor Frayn noted how impressed he was by the students’ attitude. “Some of the students making the visit had never left China before,” he said, “but they threw themselves into this project, asked insightful questions of the local practitioners, and responded to many questions about their education and the Chinese legal system. Not only that, but they participated in teaching local law students about both Chinese and American law, communicating difficult concepts in their second language, to students who are themselves non-native English speakers. Their dedication and commitment was a credit to them and STL.” Professor Frayn was teaching in Myanmar as an International Clinician in Residence with Bridges Across Borders, South East Asia Clinical Legal Education (www.babseacle.org).
The Public Interest Advocacy Clinic is part of STL’ s J.D./J.M. curriculum. It provides students an unparalleled opportunity to engage with actual cases in a non-theoretical manner. The emphasis is on real world practice. The first part of this year’s Clinic began in late 2018. The students not only studied classic US public interest cases, they also got a chance to draft complaints based on actual case facts. The second part of the course focused on public interest law in China where the students selected their topics of choice, field researched it by interviewing Chinese practitioners, and presented on it to their peers. The final part culminated in transposing the skills they learned to Myanmar.