ARTICLES

Studying to become a lawyer

A law degree is multifaceted and can lead to a wide range of career options.

In Malaysia, the legal profession is governed by the Legal Profession Act 1976, the Advocates Ordinance of Sabah Cap 2 in Sabah, and the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak Cap 110 in Sarawak.

The terms “advocate” and “solicitor” are used in Peninsular Malaysia, while “advocate” is used in Sabah and Sarawak.

A lawyer has several names – advocate, barrister, attorney, counsel, counsellor or solicitor.

The main job of a lawyer is to advise and represent clients in courts or in private legal matters. A lawyer communicates with clients, colleagues, judges and other professionals involved in a case.

Communication and debating skills can be developed and sharpened during the years of tutelage in a law college. Joining the moot sessions is one way to enhance one’s debating skills.

Moot court is an extracurricular activity initiated in many law schools where participants take part in simulated court or arbitration proceedings involving oral arguments.

For one to succeed in law, the perfect place is an institution which is able to provide holistic solutions for excellence. It must be affiliated to a world-recognised institution, with a niche for law studies.

The University of London (UOL), which gave birth to long distance learning, is one such university.

Reading is a prerequisite for excelling in law. One of the criteria when choosing a college to read law is to ensure that the college is fully equipped with a class “A” resource centre or library.

A lawyer must also have up-to-date information on the latest developments within the legal fraternity. For this, one needs to conduct lots of research in order to interpret current and new laws, rulings, and regulations.

Lawyers must also present facts – both written and verbal to clients and argue on behalf of clients in civil and criminal cases.

The scope of being a lawyer transcends court room scenes depicted in most court room dramas.

Lawyers need to prepare and file legal documents – lawsuits, appeals, wills, contracts, and deeds, besides advising or offering services for free called “pro bono,” meaning “for the public good.”

In many countries, if a person is accused of a crime and unable to hire and pay for a lawyer, the government will pay a lawyer to represent them using tax payers’ money.

In Malaysia this is carried out through the Legal Aid Department.

Lawyers work in many different industries often specialising in certain legal areas.

Civil rights, corporate and securities’ law, criminal law, education law, employment and labour law, environmental and natural resources’ law, family and juvenile law, health law, immigration law, intellectual property law, international law, real estate law, sports and entertainment law and tax law are some of the lucrative areas.

Whatever the area, lawyers need excellent analytical skills. They must digest vast information, pick out salient points and make connections on how the law applies to each point besides good organisational skills in managing time and work.

After the LLB, you are required to undergo nine months of pupillage, also known as “chambering”. You will practice in a senior lawyer’s chamber.

After chambering, you will be called to the Bar and become a full-fledged lawyer, and be known as a Legal Assistant or Associate.

In three to five years, through promotion, you may become Senior Legal Assistant or Senior Associate.

In small-sized law firms, some are made partners and in reputable, large firms, some are admitted as a Partner after acquiring seven to eight years’ of post-qualifying experience (PQE).

Most lawyers enjoy a stable income, high salary increments, and unlimited income if one is an equity partner.

Another career option is to be employed in a corporation, notably financial institutions, public-listed companies, multi-national organisations or any company that requires a full-time corporate lawyer.

These corporations often provide attractive perks – higher Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contributions, eligibility for loan subsidies and other monetary benefits.

Article contributed by Advance Tertiary College, Tel: 03-2031 0266 KL Campus) or 04-2299 266 (Penang Campus), Website: www.atc2u.edu.my