Tag Archives: CLP

So, you passed your CLP. Now, what?

Last year, I wrote wrote an entry guiding law students on the Malaysian Legal Profession. The title was “Students’ Guide to Malaysian Legal Profession“. Few days ago, the results for Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP), the qualifying examination that all foreign law graduates must take before they can be legally qualify in Malaysia, was released. I thought it would be timely to reproduce the article again but this time at Malaysia’s leading bLawg, Loyarburok. Here’s the reproduction of the article.

So, you passed your CLP. Now, what?

Congratulations to those who had passed their Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP). A lifetime of joy and misery await you. If you decide to practice, I am sure some of you would wonder where is the best place to go. I hope this article will assist those in doubt.

When a student is qualified to start his pupillage, he has 3 choices to proceed moving forward, namely a large, medium or small law firm. There is no exact definition as to what amounts to a large, medium or small law firm. But based on my own view, a large firm has around 20 lawyers, medium sized firm has less than 20 lawyers whereas small law firm has 5 or less lawyers.

A chambering student’s allowance would range from RM800 to RM2500. A large firm generally pays higher allowance.

Generally, large and medium firms (let’s call them larger firms) can expose a student to various types of work. Most of the larger firms have separate departments where a student will be expose to matters relating to corporate, conveyancing, litigation, intellectual property, employment etc. Some larger firms have a rotation system where a student will be rotated to different departments. Also, larger firms generally pay more. When I was chambering, my allowance was RM1,500.00. My friends in the smaller firms were getting RM800.00 – RM1,000.00.

A small firm may not expose a student to many types of work. However, some small firms are boutique firms which specializes in certain areas of law. For example, there are some law firms in Kuala Lumpur which specializes in Intellectual Property. They are very reputable and highly recognised in the Intellectual Property industry. They also have the best clients and the best work. With this, joining a smaller firm does not mean a student will learn lesser things.

Also, in a small firm, a student may be able to handle files on their own (most of the time under a partner’s supervision). A student will most like also get to shadow the partner.

In larger firms, it will take time for a student to be able to handle files of their own. A student usually starts off with menial work (e.g research, translation). Substantive work will probably come at a later stage. A student in a large firm may find themselves doing less important work than their comtemporaries in a smaller firms.

Also, in a smaller firm, a student may be given more opportunity. When I was an attachment student in a small firm, the bosses decided to send me to Japan for an assignment. This may not happen if I had been attached in a larger firm!

Free Trip to Tokyo. Source from http://xes.cx/?p=4450

When I wanted to look for a place for pupillage, I couldn’t decide as to whether to join a larger firm or go back to the small firm for my pupillage. I emailed a family friend and asked him where to go.

He advised me to join a larger firm so as to take advantage of the networking opportunities. Initially, I did not understand what he meant by “networking opportunities”, but after a few years, I began to understand.

In a larger firm, a student will get to know many people. In the legal profession and as a basic business principle to make money, it is not “what you know”, it is “who you know”. Of course, legal knowledge is very important but if you do not have the necessary connections, the legal knowledge will be not utilized. There will be no food on your table if you do not have the necessary connections to bring in business.

A student’s friends and colleagues may eventually become legal advisers in companies, businessmen, directors and even politicians. They may become your source of referral for businesses in the future.

But this doesn’t mean that a small firm would lose out in business. There are of course many ways to get business. For example, be active in Bar activities, give talks, join associations etc and recently, through social media networking.

If a student finds that pupillage in a larger firm / small firm is not his cup of tea, he may always switch.

Once a student finishes his or her pupillage, he may or may not be retained in his firm as a legal assistant/associate (different title but same position). A first-year legal assistant/associate’s salary in Kuala Lumpur firms may range from RM2,000.00 to RM4,000.00.

Lastly, if you aim to have lifetime career as a lawyer, you should always aim for partnership or alternatively, set up your own firm (as a sole proprietor or a partnership). A partnership in a larger firm may take a longer time as most of the time, there are many people ahead of you. Even if you are made partner, it will take time to be an equity partner (a partner with shares of the firm, thus gets a share of the profits). Most of the time, young partners in a larger firm are only salaried partners. It will take time to be an equity partner. However, such situation in a small firm may vary. Some small firms are known not to take new partners.

I hope the above is of assistance. If you have any comments that are helpful, please share.

Student’s Guide to Malaysian Legal Profession

Recently, I received an email from one Yii Zhu, a Law / Commerce student from Australia asking me for guidance about the legal profession in Malaysia. Yii Zhu wants to return home to practice but do not know where to start. After advising him, I thought it would be useful to share this with other law students or those who wants to practice law in Malaysia.

My legal life started off as an attachment student in a small firm in Kuala Lumpur. After my attachment, I joined a large firm and stayed on until now. I am currently a Senior Associate in one of the largest law firms in Malaysia.

When a student is qualified to start his chambering, he has 3 choices namely a large, medium or small law firm. There is no exact definition on what amounts to a large, medium or small law firm. But based on my own view, a large firm has around 20 lawyers, medium sized firm has less than 20 lawyers whereas small law firm has 5 or less lawyers.

The allowance a student gets would range from RM800 to RM2500. A large firm generally pays higher allowance. In respect of attachment students, this would depend on the firm. Some do not pay allowance to attachment students as they take the position that they are doing a favour for the student. Some firms do pay but not a lot – probably less than a RM1000 per month.

Generally, large and medium firms (let’s call them larger firm) can expose a student to various types of work. Most of the larger firms have separate departments where a student will be expose to matters relating to corporate, conveyancing, litigation, intellectual property, employment etc. Some larger firms have a rotation system where a student will be rotated to different departments. Also, larger firms pay more. When I was chambering, my allowance was RM1500. My friends in the small firms were getting RM800 – RM1000.

A small firm may not expose a student to many types of work. However, some small firms are boutique firms which specialize in certain types of law. For example, there are some law firms in Kuala Lumpur who specialise in Intellectual Property. They are very reputable and highly recognised in the Intellectual Property industry. They also have the best clients and the best work. With this, joining a smaller firm does not mean a student will learn less things.

Also, in a small firm, a student may be able to handle files on their own (most of the time under a partner’s supervision). A student may also get to shadow the partner.

In larger firms, it will take time for a student to be able to handle files of their own. A student usually starts off with menial work (e.g research, translation). Substantive work will probably come at a later stage. A student in a large firm may find themselves doing less important work than their counterparts in a small firm.

Also, in a smaller firm, a student may be given more opportunity. When I was an attachment student in a small firm, the bosses decided to send me to Japan for an assignment. This may not happen if I had been attached in a large firm.


My awesome free trip to Tokyooooo

When I wanted to look for a place to chamber, I couldn’t decide whether to join a larger firm or go back to the small firm to chamber. I emailed a family friend and asked him where to go.

He advised me to join a larger firm to take advantage of the networking opportunities. Initially I did not understand what he meant by “networking opportunities” but after a few years, I began to understand.

In larger firm, a student will get to know many people. In the legal profession and as a basic business principle, to make money, it is not “what you know”, it is “who you know”. Of course, legal knowledge is very important but if you do not have the necessary connections, the legal knowledge will be not utilized. There will be no food on your table if you do not have the necessary connection to bring in business.

A student’s friends and colleagues may eventually become legal advisers in companies, businessmen, directors and even politicians. They may become your source of referral for businesses in the future.

But this doesn’t mean that a small firm would lose out in business. There are of course many ways to get business. For example, give talks, join associations etc and recently, through social media networking.

If a student finds that chambering in a larger firm / small firm is not his cup of tea, he may always switch.

Once a student finishes chambering, he may or may not be retained in his firm as a legal assistant/associate (different title but same position). A first-year legal assistant/associate’s pay in Kuala Lumpur firms may range from RM2000 to RM4000.

Lastly, if you aim to have lifetime career as a lawyer, you should always aim for partnership (in a larger firm) or alternatively, set up your own firm (as a sole proprietor or a partnership). A partnership in a larger firm may take a longer time as most of the time, there are many people ahead of you. Even if you are made partner, it will take time to be an equity partner (a partner with shares in a firm thus gets a share of the profits). Most of the time, young partners in a larger firm are only salaried partners. It will take time to be an equity partner. However, such situation in a small firm may vary. Some small firms are known not to take new partners.

I hope the above is of assistance. If you have any comments that are helpful, please share.

CLP exams 4 1/2 months away

I’m stressed.

Despite the fact that CLP exam is 4 1/2 months away, the amount of shit I have to memorize is enormous. My lecturer once said CLP exam is one of the toughest in the world, once you pass it, you can pass anything in this world. It seems pretty convincing when last year’s passing rate was only 18% of the rumored 1000 people who took the exam.

With the amount of shitload I have to read, I don’t think my brain can take it. But now, I’m actually trying to memorize everything by imputing everything permanently into my brain. You know, just like how you go to McDonalds and without referring to the menu, you know there’s double cheeseburger on the menu.

Any suggestions to improve my memory?

Couple of friends of mine seek external help in order to study. For example,

A friend a mine took ginkgo biloba, a pill that increases your brain power. I think she stopped after we told her about the fine print on her gingko biloba bottle. It says, “WARNING: increases sex drive”

Another friend of mine (you know who you are la haah), tried smoking weed. Right after smoking his shit, he sat on his study table and opened his book. 5 minutes later…zzzzz…too stone to study…

And traditional believe. Fish eyes are believed to increase memory power. Oh my god, too gross. I must strongly suggest that the only appropriate chewable food is chewing gum.

And lastly, this would be my last resort…

If only I have those… if only..

finally got my clp form sorted out!

I finally completed the procedural requirement for the application of CLP (cert1ficate of legal pract1ce) today. It’s pretty troublesome, as I need to certify all my documents (education certificates and identification documents). Certification of documents is done by a Commissioners for Oath (it’s called Persuruhanjaya Sumpah in Malay), which is available almost everywhere. All you need to do is head down to a Commissioners for Oath’s office (it could be a proper office or sometimes a table outside the court house), pay the appropriate fees and get the documents stamped. Fees might vary from places to places. For example, the certification of my documents cost only RM1 per piece in Br1ckfields but in Subang, it costs RM4 per piece.

The commissioner I dealt with today was pretty nice. He lent me all the stationeries that I needed and even wished me good luck for my CLP exams.

The closing date for application is 31st October but no worries if you submit the form after the closing date. You won’t be barred from the exam but you will be fined RM250 for the lateness!

I sent my letter via Post Laju (national express mail). Most of my friends have no faith in Pos Laju and opted to deliver the application by hand (hence driving to the city, enduring the jam and lousy Malaysian drivers).

All I need to do now is pray that my documents arrive tomorrow!