Thipphaphone Siphandone chose to study a Master of Law and Development to enhance her legal knowledge and help improve international law education in Laos.
Thipphaphone Siphandone’s journey to study a Master of Law and Development started long before she applied to the University of Melbourne. While specialising in international relations during her undergraduate degree, she felt drawn to the law and, despite her lack of a ‘formal’ legal background, started getting involved in international moot court competitions.
These experiences only deepened her aspirations to work in a law-related field and, after graduation, she began working with the Institute for Legal Support and Technical Assistance to develop and improve legal education in her home country, Laos. However, Thipphaphone soon decided that she needed further knowledge and education to continue achieving her personal and professional goals.
“The career journey I embarked on over several years made me realise that I needed a legal qualification to contribute to my country’s development more substantially,” said Thipphaphone. “In Laos, the existing legal frameworks and institutions, albeit extensively developed, still need to be further strengthened to ensure the protection of the rights of marginalised people in society.
“While the understanding of and compliance with international law by Lao legal practitioners is urgently needed, limited expertise in international law is a barrier to overcoming this challenge,” she continued. “This has strongly motivated me to study international law and I believe it will equip me with the skills I need to help tackle these challenges.”
Thipphaphone chose Melbourne Law School because of its specialised law and development program focusing on the intersection of international law and socio-economic progression. Having received a prestigious Australian Awards Scholarship, she felt she was able to make the most of her student life in Australia.
“I have been constantly supported throughout my learning journey by the scholarship and the University of Melbourne,” explained Thipphaphone. “Along with the available student support services, especially the Legal Academic Skills Community at Melbourne Law School, the scholarship also provided helpful pre-departure training in my country and an introductory academic program upon my arrival in Australia.
“Studying at the Melbourne Law School has been life-changing for me. What I love the most about it is the diversity. I had a chance to make incredible friends and learn and obtain meaningful guidance from highly experienced professors from various parts of the world,” she said.
For those thinking of studying the Master of Law and Development, Thipphaphone highlights that, for her, it was “the most welcoming learning space for those who don’t have a formal legal background”, and that she was provided with all the tools she needed for both academic and career success. “What you will gain from this program is indeed invaluable,” she said. “It will pave the way for you to work in any sector related to law and development.”