Students Compete in Counseling Competition

About 30 law students on Friday participated in the seventh Client Counseling Competition to put their newly acquired professional skills into practice and compete for a trip to the international competition in Puerto Rico in April.

In the competition, in which students act out a fictional legal dilemma, the storyline revolved around a Cambodian pop star who had signed a contract with a Chinese record company that told her to rewrite her songs on human rights and deforestation.

Despite being under contract, the pop star was now refusing to perform the altered songs.

“We created the case based on this year’s theme, commercial contracts, and tried to make it international,” said Seng Tith Kunthy, a legal adviser with East-West Management Institute, which helped organize the event.

The teams were judged by international law experts such as Nicholas Koumjian, co-prosecutor at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, based on their professionalism in handling the case, from introducing themselves and their law firm’s policies to the gathering of information, offering legal and non-legal options, and summarizing the case, Ms. Tith Kunthy said.

The winning team, Navinth Rethda, 20, and Nhek Pichmolyka, 19, from the Royal University of Law and Economics stood out for their particularly circumspect and attentive treatment of the pop star, carefully explaining to her the different courses of action she could take, as well as policies such as client confidentiality. They said that they were thrilled to be going to Puerto Rico.

“It will be a great experience, although I only know that Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean,” Mr. Rethda said.

The competition, Ms. Pichmolyka said, was a great opportunity for all participants. “I think this is a really important practice and it will help us become a good lawyer,” Ms. Pichmolyka said.

The competition, which has been running seven years, has successfully helped train students in the skills they need to practice law, said Natalie Matranga, a British lawyer and member of the judging panel.

“Cambodia’s legal system is often criticized, but competitions like this show that there is a positive commitment to improving lawyers’ skills and developing the lawyers of the future, and are a really promising sign. The standard was very impressive and the students were effective and professional,” Ms. Matranga said.

(Additional reporting by Simon Henderson)

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