The challenge in Vietnam
The UN is working to improve the capacity of the country’s justice system. The antiquated legal education system and low legal literacy are major barriers, leaving poor and marginalised communities vulnerable to exploitation at work, and a lack of security at home.
Synthesis worked with UN specialists to develop a new style of legal provision for the community. The UN team brought together law students, academics and lawyers to launch a new community law school, known as ‘community homesteads’. This involved students spending time in rural, marginalised communities to help them understand the legal support that was needed. Students heard unexpected stories: one community member explained that they were unaware of their labour rights and had never heard of overtime pay. Others said they were unable to negotiate their contract with employers, because they didn’t understand the legal terms involved.
The students gathered this information and returned to their universities, where they worked with professional legal practitioners to devise comprehensive legal plans for their clients. Armed with their legal plans, the students returned to their clients in the communities to provide fast, effective and tailored legal aid.
12 law schools were established, serving 6 rural local communities.