Sy Sathya, at 26-years-old, holds a Master’s degree in private law and has almost four years’ experience working as a lawyer. He is a generous man, choosing specifically to undertake legal work on behalf of those who cannot afford it.
Sy Sathya works two jobs. One is as a practising lawyer, and the other is serving as sub-director of Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC) in Bon Teay Mean Chay province.
Generally, he earns about US$1000 a month.
Sy Sathya tries to win each case he is responsible for. Even when the verdict is not in his client’s favour, he fights to convince the judge to cut down the punishment or fine.
“To win a case, a lawyer has to be knowledgeable, memorise all of the contents of Cambodian law and have good speaking ability to convince the judge of your case,” he said.
Sitting in his office located at Phnom Penh Center, he speaks very politely. He told me that he passed the qualifying examination at 23-years-old, just after graduating, and has been practising law since.
“My effort and my capabilities have allowed for me to have a successful career,” he added.
Sy Sathya overcame many obstacles growing up to get where he is today. He was born to a modest family in Phrey Veang Province, and had to find his own way to finance his studies in Phnom Penh.
In high school, he had never planned to become a lawyer. In fact, he excelled at physics and wanted to become a science teacher. However, because his parents knew that he was always smart and talented, they suggested that he major in law.
“At first, I did not know much about law. But after the first year in university, I realized that I loved it, and I put more effort into studying,” he reflected.
As Bon Teay Mean Chay province has many drug and crime-related cases, legal representation is necessary. LAC is working to help the poor have access to a lawyer.
“I have found that legal procedure is often abused there, so I must help and strengthen our court system,” he said.
“Morality should be close to the heart of every lawyer.”
Sy Sathya is optimistic about the development of the Cambodian legal system. With the rise of access to education, people are learning the importance of legal representation, and courts are more often following legal procedure, he said.
Law students, then, will have many job opportunities if they are able to succeed in law school.
In the near future, Sy Sathya plans to open a private law firm with his friends. He hopes that it will run smoothly and supply the best possible services in seeking justice for Cambodian citizens.