Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Young lawyers smooth talk their way to world champs

Young lawyers smooth talk their way to world champs

Young lawyers smooth talk their way to world champs

11lawyers.jpg
11lawyers.jpg

BRENDAN BRADY

Law students Khun Sonita (centre right) and Sreng Nearirath (right) talk with a pretend client during the Client Counseling Competition, held at Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh, on February 29. Sonita and Nearirath won the competition and will represent Cambodia at the International Client Counseling Competition in India April 2-6.

A Cham factory worker’s praying brings an assembly line to a

standstill, and gets him fired.

It wasn’t as dramatic as the butler in the pantry with the

candlestick, but Cambodia’s first client counseling competition had its share

of theatrics as aspiring lawyers and judges had 45 minutes to display their

mastery of Cambodian law and ability to establish rapport with clients.

One team from each of Cambodia’s five main law schools –

Royal University of Law and Economics, University of Cambodia, Pannasastra

University, Cambodian Mekong University and Build Bright University – competed

for the honor of national champions February 28-29 at the Sunway Hotel in Phnom

Penh.

The fictional clients, played by actors, included a

trafficked woman and a factory manager facing a lawsuit by a worker he fired.

From the minutia of honorifics to the logistics of cost to

the heart of the matter – what happened and how can we fix it – the young

students tried the impress the judges, mostly lawyers based in Phnom Penh,  with their social skills and knowledge of the

Cambodian Constitution.

The competitors threw in dramatic pauses and sighs, and

delivered seemingly scripted lines. "Feel good about yourself. It’s not going

to be a problem, have a drink,” one of the lawyers told the factory manager

character.

After the competition, the judges cautioned teams not to be

overly sanguine with their clients.

Cambodian Bar Association president Ky Tech and US

Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli presented trophies to contest winners Sreng

Nearirath and Khun Sonita, of the Royal University of Law and Economics. The

two will travel to Bangalore, India, April 2-6 to represent Cambodia at the

International Client Counseling Competition, in which over 20 countries are

expected to compete, including the US, England and India.

The legal contest was funded by the US Agency for

International Development (USAID) and jointly organized by the East-West

Management Institute as well as the American and Cambodia bar associations.

"Like any other course of study, the law can be exceedingly

boring if all the student does is learn from books and lectures,” said

Mussomeli, cautioning that "While the law is a wonderful invention, it can also

be very dangerous” since it can be used to oppress the "poor and weak.”

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