Workshop on Legal Research, 28-29 October-1 November 2021

The University of Luxembourg keeps supporting legal research in Laos. A three-day workshop was co-hosted online by the University of Luxembourg Inter-University Cooperation Project Laos-Luxembourg and Luxembourg Development’s Project LAO/031 dedicated to legal research methodology on 28th-29th October and 1st November 2021. The event took place via Zoom and was chaired by Dr Somdeth Keovongsack, Vice Dean of the FLP. The workshop brought together 95 Lao lecturers from the FLP (National University of Laos), the Faculty of Law and Administration (FLA-Champassak University) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

The workshop focused on the methodology applicable to scientific research in the field of law, in particular on what is legal research, what are the sources used in this discipline and on different types of legal research existing (doctrinal or more inter-disciplinary). It also covered more general aspects such as plagiarism, or how to structure a law paper including advice on how to write an introduction, etc. The workshop was the first presentation of the draft “Guidelines on Academic Legal Research Methodology” that have been prepared with the support of Dr. Perrine Simon, the Liaison Officer of the University of Luxembourg. Presentations were led by the “team” involved in the drafting of these guidelines including Dr. Perrine Simon, Dr. Latdavanh Donkeodavong, Dr. Boualaphiane Sisouk, Dr. Sypha Chanthavong, and Pangthong Xayyavong.

The guidelines are expected to be finalised for dissemination at the beginning of the 2nd semester of this academic year (2022), in both an English and a Lao version.  They could lead the way for Lao legal research and also be relevant for other institution such as the FLA and NIJ. Participants highlighted during the workshop the need to have a “manual” to help them and to have a less fragmented approach to legal research in Laos.

On the third day of the Workshop, participants were divided into groups to do an exercise led by Dr. Lone Lindholt (Chief Technical Advisor of Project Lao/031). In breakout rooms, participants worked together and listed the challenges they are facing in conducting legal research. They highlighted a number of contextual, institutional and individual challenges, such as access to sources (in particular courts’ decisions), access to funding, lack of research opportunities, overwhelming admin duties, etc.  They also suggested a number of concrete solutions for the future, including the creation of a Lao platform to disseminate legal research outputs in Lao language.

During the workshop, participants had an open-minded approach and actively engaged in constructive discussions. Many questions were raised regarding legal research and methodology, academic integrity and plagiarism as well as how these may apply in the context of Lao academia.

This was a very fruitful and unique workshop as it was gathering the whole (future) “Lao research community” – FLP, FLA and NIJ – and emphasised the need for further collaboration in order to encourage quality legal research.

Lastly, at the end of the workshop, participants were encouraged to submit their applications for the 3rd Annual Research Forum which will take place on 15th of December (deadline extended to 15th of November).