1. I am Jennifer, but sometimes I went by Jessica and sometimes Rebecca. Most of the time, I was called Jennifer. Perhaps my name was so hard to remember that it was often mistaken or perhaps amongst the five attachment students, mine was the plain Jane next door. Therefore, if anyone called a name that does not exist among the colleagues, I supposed he or she was calling me. Despite the fact that occasionally “I was called names”, it does not affect the fond memories and joy of my experience in this firm.
Before entering Alex Chang & Co
2. It was April 2016 when I landed on the webpage of the firm while I was surfing for an attachment opportunity. The experiences published by the firm’s website are exciting and inviting to a law student who would like to learn and discover what is real deal. Hoping to understand this profession better and to have some direct training, it is my pleasure to be given a chance to learn in Alex Chang & Co.
My journey of 10 weeks
3. Practice for industry
3.1 Throughout the 10-week journey, it was fruitful and remarkable. Attachment students were often given the opportunity and confidence by the lawyers to do research for actual matters. The students are obliged to learn how to think critically and solve problems.
3.2 Law students will learn the law in school, Alex Chang & Co provides an outstanding industrial introduction to the students. The students will have the fortune to experience for themselves the real legal world in practice. Frankly, the real world out from the law school’s precinct is totally different from what we learnt in books. Here, students were given the opportunity to have some exposure on the procedures that the counsel undertake.
4. Research Skill
4.1 Research skill is the most powerful skill a counsel should have. In Alex Chang & Co, most of the students’ assignments are related to research. You may not find the information you want without extensive research.
4.2 As Malaysia practises common law which is based on judicial precedent, there is no way for us to support our case without authorities. Research improved my reading & writing skills. The brainstorming experience during the conference with counsel helped to develop presentation and critical thinking abilities of the students. The students will be asked to express their opinions and eventually build their confidence to present before the Honourable court.
4.3 Research for on going matters is one of the best assignments in my opinion. The excitement of searching something to help your case which is dissimilar to the previous cases is enormous. We need to relate our matter with existing decided authorities to convince the court. Therefore, research work is unpredictable and interesting, a lot of surprises await you.
5. Meeting with clients
5.1 During the 10-week attachment, I was also given the opportunity to meet the clients together with the counsel. We were given some idea on how to give advice to the clients and to ask how we can provide help to the clients. It is required of a lawyer to give advice while listening to the client’s claim. This is as good as it gets for an attachment student.
5.2 Besides, I was very privileged to be the observer during the meeting with opponent and discussion for settlement of the matter. Negotiation is one of the daily routine for solicitors. From there, I understand how to strike a bargain with the opponent on behalf of our clients.
6. Meeting with High Court Judge and senior lawyers
6.1 Another precious memory that I cherish is that I was given an audience before a High Court Judge and senior lawyers during the tea party after an admission (to the Bar) proceedings. I was the only student, from the discussion, I was enlightened by the experience and knowledge the Judge and the seniors.
6.2 Besides, we also had the rare opportunity to meet and listen to a retired Court of Appel Judge over a social setting.
6.3 It was indeed an uncommon occasion that brought much insight for me as a student butterflies formed a colony in my stomach.
7. Drafting and Attending Hearings
7.1 Drafting court documents and submissions were part of the package.
7.2 We were invited to the proceedings in the Court of Appeal, the High Court and some hearings before the Registrar. We were given a front row seats of the proceedings in court.
8. Writing of Articles
8.1 In Alex Chang & Co, the students will need to do research and write articles on interesting topics of law.
8.2 The seniors in the firm will vet our articles for accuracies.
9. Admission to Bar
9.1 The legal profession is unique in the sense that we welcome the newcomers to this profession with a court order.
9.2 Since Mr Chang is occasionally invited to be the Representative of Malaysian Bar, we were given many opportunities to observe this ceremony. This is inspirational for a law student although their participation was that of an observer.
10. Professional Ethics Class
10.1 For a solicitor to be able to appear before the court, there are many rules of etiquette that the counsel need to follow.
10.2 As Mr Chang was one to the lecturers, I was invited to attend 1 of the 5 modules of the Professional Ethics Class organized by Malaysia Bar Council to learn the basic ethics of a counsel in court. It was an eye opening experience for me as I have the chance to understand the ethics and language used in court.
11.1 I used to harbour a thought that it is unlikely that a small firm will be able to provide any avenues for their students to gain eye-opening experiences. In Alex Chang & Co, they provide the students with valuable training as we were encouraged to participate in an In House Mooting Competition. It was my pleasure and honour to be one of the counsel in this competition.
11.2 Tension was high over among the team mates over the preparation and eventual presentation, yet there is no regret. Mooting must be the closest to real deal I had within these 10 weeks. The senior counsel of both teams were given a special briefing session by Mr CHANG personally, that session cleared the doubts, paved the way and set the stage for the moot.
12. Strong Friendship/Family Bonding
12.1 In Alex Chang & Co, we work as a family. There is no boundary among the attachment students as well as the colleagues. The seniors are always helpful and generous to the students.
12.2 One of the best part as an intern in Alex Chang & Co is that in our firm there are always a few attachment students during summer break. The students were able to help each other and generate long lasting friendship and bonding amongst us.
13. Social Events
13.1 Alex Chang & Co is a work-life balance firm. We often have some social events such as attending the Travel Talks, Birthday Parties and Karaoke Sessions.
13.2 The firm even organized a Karaoke Competition for the students and friends of the firm.
13.3 These social events serve to integrate each and everyone in the firm and help us escape from the pressure cooker for a while.
14. 10 weeks went in a blink of an eye. There is so much joy and laughter. Besides exposure to legal knowledge, I was given life-long invaluable advice and guidance which have made a lot of changes in my life.
15. It is undoubtedly a much cherished memory in Alex Chang & Co. a fountain of knowledge I have found. I will always miss this firm for the assistance, laughter, enlightenment and friendship.
16. Too many thoughts and words are not enough. It is my sincerely wish that I may repay the kindness by returning to the firm and contribute to cheerfulness of Alex Chang & Co and pass my knowledge to the juniors.
Hope to see you all soon.
HIU JING YIN, JENNIFER
THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF MALAYSIA, UNIVERSITI KEBANGSAAN MALAYSIA
September 2, 2016.