What Lawyers Do in the Community

Here and abroad


Victoria lawyers Renée Mulligan (Ministry of Justice) and Michael Mulligan (Mulligan Tam Pearson) with their children and staff of the SDC school,
near Nai Soi village, December 2015

This past December I, Renée Mulligan, travelled with my husband Michael and our two children to an organization called the Karenni Social Development Center (“SDC”) that runs a school near Mae Hong Son, Northern Thailand. The students and many of the teachers at the school are refugees from Karenni State in Burma. They live in refugee camps located along the Thai/Burma border. SDC provides young adults with the opportunity to produce non-violent change within their communities and to create a democratic society, by teaching subjects such as democracy, human rights, and international law, as well as English and computers.

The journey to SDC was quite an adventure! Michael drove us in a 4x4 from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son over a six-hour switchback mountain road, and from there, over very rough dirt roads and across a river to get to the school, which is located near Nai Soi village.

It was truly inspiring to meet the new group of students at SDC, and to see their resilience and courage. Many of the students have been severely marginalized by violence and poverty, and have lived difficult lives with few chances for education. When asked what their favourite subject was, the students all said “law!”

Dragging the whole family across the world for the visit was my idea, as I’ve been assisting SDC with developing training materials and fundraising. The donations from the Victoria legal community over the last two years have allowed the school to purchase four laptop computers and a router, as well as providing English language books. It was an incredible experience to see how this technology and information has benefited the students. I would like to pass on a huge thank-you from SDC to everyone who has kindly donated.

The ISRCL and Edinburgh: A Bonny Legal Experience Abroad

This past summer, I (Eric Gottardi) was invited to give a brief presentation at a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland hosted by the International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law (“ISRCL”). The ISRCL is an international non-governmental association of judges, legislators, lawyers, academics, governmental officials, police and corrections professionals who come together to work actively on the administration of criminal justice both in their own jurisdiction and internationally. Last year’s conference was entitled, “Crossing Boundaries: Exploitation, e-Crime, Evidence, and Extradition” and a variety of speakers from around the world discussed several challenges associated with cross-border investigations and enforcement. The panels also discussed human trafficking, cyber-bullying and extradition. Having attended other conferences organized by the ISRCL in the past, I am always impressed by the quality of the speakers and the variety of topics covered.

This occasion also allowed my wife and I to visit Edinburgh. What an amazing city! From the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle in Old Town to the shops and eateries of New Town, Edinburgh had something for everyone. We also were able to take a one-day road trip through Sterling, out west to Oban and then North to Glen Coe before heading home to Edinburgh. We saw amazing vistas and we approached the Highlands and managed to get stopped by a Highland Coo (cow) or two. A ghost tour, a kilt-fitting and a scotch tasting (or three), and our week in Edinburgh had evaporated. I would be remiss if I neglected to highlight a wonderful day trip to Glasgow as well. One day wasn’t enough for a shopping mecca, dressed up as a working class town of old. I hope some of you will join us and the ISRCL in Halifax this coming June for a new adventure!








(L-R) Photo is of lawyers Samantha Hulme, Lesley Gottardi with Eric Gottardi, David Butcher, QC and Jeff Campbell, QC at a local Charcuterie in Edinburgh!