Law degree is one of the earliest degrees ever introduced in universities back in the 11th century in Europe. It is a highly regarded qualification and promises various career pathways since law graduates are capable of doing many important roles in various professions.
Whilst we have heard a lot of great things about the career, we are not truly well-informed on the experiences of studying law at universities. Therefore, with us today is Yang Solehah, a 22-year-old lady from Pasir Mas, Kelantan. She is a final year law student at the University of Malaya and is here to share her experiences in law degree.
Q: Hello Yang, how are you today? Are you ready to share your experience?
A: I am fine, thank you. Yes definitely.
Q: Perfect! First question, why did you choose law degree?
A: I chose law programme for my degree due to my curiosity about the law system itself and the implementation and application of law in our daily lives. Besides, law is a professional programme and is not limited to one particular career only in the future.
Q: What are the career opportunities for law graduates?
A: Career opportunities for law graduates are wide. Typically the career opportunities are lawyer, legal advisor, legal administrator, and lecturer. You can also be a diplomat, a journalist, or even a filmmaker. This course will not limit your career opportunity as some may imagine. You can do pretty much anything with a law degree.
Q: Can you share with us the steps to becoming a lawyer?
A: Definitely, it’s a lengthy process, depending on your selected education pathway, it will take around 5.5 to 7 years for you to become a qualified lawyer.
Step 1: Complete a pre-university or diploma course
Once you’ve completed your SPM or equivalent qualification, you can opt to study a pre-law course such as A-Level, STPM, or Foundation in Law. General entry requirements for Foundation in Law are depending on the university itself. Alternatively, you can also take a Diploma in Law. For you to pursue your Bachelor of Laws (LL.B), your MUET must meet the minimum requirement of Band 4.
Step 2: Complete your law degree
Thereafter, you can move on to pursue your Law Degree, which is usually 3 years. Most universities that offer this course will require you to go through an interview before you are accepted to the programme. For law degrees that include a professional year (e.g. Law Degrees awarded by recognised Malaysian universities like the University of Malaya), the degree will be 4 years. However, if you possess a Diploma in Law, you can skip Year 1 syllabus and enter Year 2 of degree directly.
Step 3: Pass your professional law examination
If you plan to be a qualified lawyer (which is required if you want to practice law in Malaysia), you will need to pass the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) exam that’s approximately 9 months long. You can also opt to take the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in the UK, which enables you to become a barrister in England and Wales as well as an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia.
If your law degree already includes a professional year, then you do not need to take the CLP exam since it is already embedded into your curriculum.
Step 4: Complete your pupillage (chambering)
Subsequently, you will need to read in chambers for 9 months. Chambering (also known as pupillage) is a form of internship where you attach yourself with a law firm to gain knowledge and experience with the work of a lawyer. After your pupillage is completed, you will be called to the Malaysian bar where you’ll officially be admitted as an advocate and solicitor.
Q: Any entrance exam required before applying for this programme?
A: From my experience, no. However, an interview is necessary. My interview was way back in 2017. During the interview session, applicants were interviewed individually. A case study was given, and we were expected to do some roleplay on how we will be presenting our client. For STPM leavers that do not have any law knowledge, you do not have to worry. The interviewers only want to see your confidence in speaking. But, before attending the interview, you should briefly understand the basic law like contract, criminal, and tort.
Q: What do you learn in this programme?
A: Generally, for the first three years, students will be exposed to substantive law subjects, whereas in the final year (professional year) students will learn more on procedural law subjects.
During my first year, the subjects that I took were basic law such as Contract Law, Tort Law, Legal Method, Malaysian Legal System, and Family Law.
In my second year, I took more complex subjects such as Criminal Law, Land Law, Equity and Trust, and Constitutional Law.
In the third year, we were given the opportunity to choose 14 elective subjects that are law-based according to my interest. For example, I took Commercial Law, Company Law, Employment Law, and Digital Copyright Law. I had undergone my internship during my third year as well. I did my internship in PDRM for 2 weeks in my first semester, whereas during my second semester, I was given the choice to do my internship in a court or any government agencies, private agencies, and law firms. I chose a law firm for my internship.
Q: With such a busy schedule, do law students have the time to join other activities?
A: Definitely! Law students are known to be active in various university activities. For example, during my study, I joined various international level programmes and conferences that involve international students. Through these programmes, I expanded my network with law students from Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, et cetera.
Q: What are the misconceptions commonly related to your programme?
A: People tend to say that law students are expressive and loud. Also, people usually say that if you go to law school, you will end up going to court every day. For some lawyers, yes it is true. But if you’re not interested to go to the court, like me, you can choose to be in house lawyer, or be a diplomat.
Q: If you say so, then what is your field of interest?
A: My plan is to be a conveyancing lawyer. I am interested in real estate.
Q: Any final words for the aspiring law students reading this?
A: Law school is a good start for you. This course will not only teach you about the law itself, but it will help you to develop new skills. You can apply your knowledge on your daily basis and you can help people around you as well!
Q: Thank you so much for the encouragement and motivation!
A: You’re welcome!