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AUPP Students Learn from Professionals in Law Career Hour

Three practitioners in the field of law visited AUPP on June 17th to take part in the first in a series of three Career Hour discussions on each of the three major programs offered by the University: Law, Business and Economics, and Political Science and Diplomacy.

Judge You Ottara obtained a Masters Degree in Law from Kazakhstan National University in 1995 and has practiced law in Cambodia in various different capacities since then. He began as an official  in the Department of Criminal and Civil Affairs in the Ministry of Justice, and worked his way up to become a Judge of the Supreme Court. Judge Ottara also works at the Appeals Court and at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

In his remarks, Judge Ottara explained to students the rationale behind having a system of criminal and civil law, and outlined what he sees as the four main functions of law: defending society from the evils that would befall it in the absence of laws, promoting the common good, resolving issues over limited resources, and encouraging people to “do the right thing.”

Brad Gordon is an American lawyer and member of the New York Bar; he has practiced law in Cambodia for six years, and is founder and Managing Partner of the Phnom Penh-based law firm Gordon and Associates, a firm dealing mainly with a corporate clientele, particularly in the tourism and hospitality industry. He spoke about the challenges of working as a foreign lawyer in Cambodia, abiding by the practices and legal culture of the country while at the same time making sure that he complies with the stringent requirements of the New York Bar. Mr. Gordon also talked to prospective law students about the work he does on an everyday basis, including drawing up of contracts and conducting due diligence investigations of companies (the equivalent of a “legal health check,” he explained.) He is most proud, he said, of the fact that over the years he and his firm have been able to train many Cambodians on how to deal with international clients.

The third Career Hour speaker was Mr. Hak Sok Heng, a US graduate who works both for Gordon and Associates and for Cambodia’s Council of Ministers. He highlighted several important parts of his job, including that of helping foreigners understand the Cambodian legal system. He stressed to students that obtaining a university qualification is not in itself enough to ensure career success, in law or any other field. “You need to update yourself all the time,” he said, “just as you need to update the apps on your phone when a new version comes out.”

The next Career Hour will feature speakers from the world of business and economics; a date has not yet been announced, but when it is it will be posted on the AUPP website.

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