Defender of the weak and poor: Yong Phanith

Yong Phanith, who had been orphaned, lived with his older sister while studied hard in the Memot district of Tbong Khmum province. He continued his studies at the Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE), currently known as the School of Administration and Law, where he earned a Secondary Certificate of Law in 1990.

He returned to Phnom Penh in 1992 and volunteered to work as a clerk there until 1995, when he returned to Phnom Penh and passed the bar, becoming a lawyer in 1996. Phanith, who defends the poor now works for the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC).

The 58-year-old remains committed in his dedication in serving as a volunteer lawyer. He represents clients who are unable to pay for their own legal assistance.

He has made the decision to use his knowledge, expertise, and fighting spirit to help the most privileged sections of society even though he could make more money by working with wealthier clients.

The real road of compassion, that is, giving, helping, assistance and community service, is a road that can be set and declared as your life’s purpose

– Byron Pulsifer

Phanith started working for women and kids who were victims of domestic violence as a lawyer and also represents clients in land disputes and criminal matters. He has represented them very well, and can usually put them at ease, because, like so many of his clients, he grew up an orphan and poor.

He is using psychology because many of his clients require more love and connection. Rich clients are usually less stressed, so he has to find a balance between his professional judgement and the clients’ lack of knowledge of the legal system.

He has defended people from all social classes throughout the years, but poorer people need a more careful psychological approach.

He had represented 12,480 clients since he started taking on cases for the poor in 1996. Depending on the circumstances, he has won and lost numerous cases.

Yong Phanith presently owns and operates Legal and Consulting Office, a law firm. As a matter of legal principle, he argued, everyone involved in a criminal case has a right to a defense lawyer. They can request a lawyer directly, submit an application to the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC), or operate through a representative of the capital-provincial courts if they cannot afford one.

Source: The Phnom Penh Post

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