Born to a Vietnamese refugee family in an Indonesian refugee camp, Lyma grew up in Brisbane with a commitment to make her services available to those most in need. It was through the legal profession that she found one avenue to carry out this commitment. Since 2007, she has practiced law both domestically and internationally, with a focus on criminal and human rights law.
Lyma obtained a Master of Law, specialising in International Law, from the Australian National University. In her early career, she worked at the Federal Attorney-General's Department, both in Criminal Justice Division, in the area of international transfer of prisoners, dealing with prisoner case work and bilateral treaties, and in Civil Justice Division (Human Rights Branch), scrutinising bills and providing legal and policy advice on domestic human rights and anti-discrimination matters.
She was first admitted as a Solicitor and Barrister in New South Wales, and registered to practise at the High Court of Australia. She became admitted in the Northern Territory, following a practice of over six-years as a Federal Prosecutor at the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP). Her work at the CDPP Head Office involved victims of crime and offences of human exploitation, and she appeared in range of indictable and summary matters including transnational crimes, and white collar crimes including Corporations fraud and fraud against the Commonwealth.
Lyma has also appeared in civil appeals and special cases stated before the Supreme Court. Her Commonwealth practice has involved representing clients in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court as well as representing a number of asylum seekers with High Court litigation connected with lead case, M68 v Commonwealth.
Internationally, Lyma has worked in Cambodia, Singapore, Nigeria and East Timor, and has French and Vietnamese language skills. She is one of 45 Australian women lawyers selected to participate in the "Trailblazing Women Lawyers Project", particularly for her work as International Civil Party Counsel at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia ('ECCC' or Khmer Rouge Tribunal).
Since 2008, Lyma has sacrificed a considerable amount of her life to the cause of the survivors of the Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia and has provided pro bono legal services to hundreds of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, including foreign nationals and members of the Cambodian diaspora from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, as well as ethnic minority victims the subject of genocide charges against the Senior Leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. This has included taking on an assignment as International Criminal Law Advisor with Lawyers Beyond Borders to provide advice to Legal Aid of Cambodia on its work with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and its labour and human trafficking casework.
In 2013, Lyma was recognised for her work in at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal by receiving the Prime Minister's Executive Endeavour Award. She was also awarded the prestigious Churchill Fellowship and was awarded the Best Advocate Award at a specialised training course in 'Advocacy and Litigation before International Courts and Tribunals' organized by the Universiteit Leiden, The Hague.
Since 2012, Lyma has been enlisted as a Law and Justice Civilian Expert on the register of the Australian Civilian Corps under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for rapid deployment to fragile or post-conflict situations. In this capacity, she has provided advice as a subject matter civilian expert in detention, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.
She has guest-lectured at universities globally and presented extensively on genocide and victims representation in international courts, and has written a number of publications on the matter.
When she has some free time, Lyma enjoys philosophy, physics, critical thinking and debate, playing the guitar, music, movies, poetry, and arts and crafts.