Updated: Jul 3
By Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation
Doreen Chen - International Human Rights Lawyer
Reims, FRANCE – In a charming town of Reims, populated with 187,000 people, lives Doreen Chen from Australia. She is happily married with two boys who have learnt how to adapt and converse in French fluently.
From a young age, Doreen identifies herself as a tom boy. After her high school education, in 2001, she decided to study law at the University of Sydney.
Five years later, Doreen graduated with a double degree, majoring in Economics and Science) specialising in Government and International Relations; and Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) with First Class Honours.
At University of Sydney, she was the recipient of the Zoë Hall Scholarship for Academic Merit; recipient of the University of Sydney Exchange Scholarship.
She completed Winter School at the East China University of Politics and Law, Shanghai, Republic of China; and did an Exchange Semester at Utrecht University, the Netherlands; and achieved first place in "Chinese Laws and Chinese Legal Systems."
Initially, Doreen worked as lawyer practicing Corporate and Commercial Dispute Resolution at a national law firm for a couple of years.
New York, United States of America
Doreen went to Columbia Law School in New York and pursued her Masters of Laws (LL.M) with Honours, majoring in International Human Rights Law, International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law.
During this period from 2009 -2010, she felt the financial pressure of not earning and was worried when her savings were being depleted.
She said: ”Some of my peers were doing so well financially. Here I am, trying to complete my Masters and every dollar counted for me and I had to be prudent with what I spent.”
True to her cause, she was recognised as the Harlan Stone Scholar, she was the recipient of the Parker School Certificate in International and Humanitarian Law and the recipient of the Boulton International Scholarship (from the University of Sydney).
With all the accolades that she has gained, Doreen finds her place in balancing and celebrating the human spirit, elevating human life against the oppression and injustice faced in this world. Profitability is not her vision in life, she finds her space, comfort and solace in doing right.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
From 2011, she started working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as a Project Coordinator for over a year and a half before taking a role as Consultant with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Doreen gave back by contributing as a seasonal lecturer at Aix-Marseille University Institute of International Humanitarian Studies, Royal University of Law and Economics, Cambodia and University of Sydney, Australia.
She is a cheerful, joyful and warm individual. She remembered before one court case started, she was in the gallery chatting to everyone and they were totally surprised that she was part of the legal counsel and held a position of responsibility. Doreen says: “I decided long ago that this is me. I am a positive and cheerful person. There was no point hiding it.”
Thus, she naturally breaks down the old construct of a lawyer as aloof, off standish and frosty; as she prefers to be authentic, approachable and be true to herself.
For almost six years, Doreen worked as a Senior Legal Consultant initially and later established herself as an International Lawyer for Nuon Chea Defence Team.
She expressed that this period was the most challenging and treasured moment in her life, history was being rewritten as she provided United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials and Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
In 2021-21, she continued to do good work as an International Expert with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) for the Strengthening Gender Based Violence Responses in Mongolia Project funded by Global Affairs Canada.
Doreen and her husband, Rodolphe Prom have two young children and she finds her role expanding from an international human rights lawyer, to a mum and wife.
Before married life, the hectic work-life for the past 10-15 years was spent in law courts, preparing the legal narrative with her team were time consuming. It was relentless, non-stop and round the clock.
With the two new lives before her, she has made changes in her life to be there for her children.
She says that she is loving her life. She is still working as an international human rights lawyer on a part-time basis and she can be there for drop-offs and pick-ups at school for her kids. It is a new routine that she is enjoying with her family. It is also knowing that time with the young ones will pass swiftly… Rodolphe and her want to be there for them.
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