Using the Law to Empower the People of the Greater Mekong

Open Society Foundations –

I will never forget the moment I realized that I was in the wrong line of work. Soon after graduating from law school in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, I started a job with a local bank. I had a good salary and good benefits, but something never felt quite right. One day, I was asked to go to reclaim some possession from a client unable to pay his debts, including a motorcycle and a TV. When I walked into his house, I saw his two young children happily watching cartoons. I could not bring myself to follow through, and I quit my job not long after.

After some soul searching, I started working for the Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, a grassroots NGO supporting rural communities at risk from development projects. My salary was less than half of what I earned before. It is safe to say that my family questioned my career choices (and my sanity). But the communities were up against well-resourced governments and businesses and were powerless to fight back on their own. As a lawyer, I realized I could do more with my skillset than sitting in the office of a bank.

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