Why B.Juris?

Now that I’ve finished my Law degree, I thought I’d just pen down why I ended up picking the B.Juris programme offered by University of Malaya over the ones offered at a number of different private colleges in Malaysia.

When I first decided to study Law, I went shopping for a suitable programme to pursue. Everyone knows about the University of London external LL.B offered at a number of colleges. So, I paid one of them a visit. I was promptly sent to the marketing department where I spoke to one of the marketing officers who explained to me the programme entry requirements, structure and fees.

I told the marketing officer that I already had a PhD and that I was merely doing Law for the knowledge. So, he pointed at the shiny library which was situated behind me and told me that it would not be necessary for me to read any of the books in there at all to pass my degree.

Unfortunately for the marketing officer, he made the wrong pitch. I was actually looking forward to visiting the library and learning the Law, but he basically told me that I could pass it without ever stepping inside a library. This completely turned me off.

So, I told a Lawyer friend of mine about this experience and my friend recommended that I check out University of Malaya external B.Juris programme instead and they broke no such nonsense.

I can still remember the speech given by the Dean of the faculty during his welcoming address for new students that, a library is the most important tool for a Lawyer and that a library is to a lawyer what a lab is to a scientist. Therefore, we should all learn how to use it. This turned me on.

He went on to extol the many virtues of the UM Law library, which is the largest Law library in the country at four storeys high, housing documents from the 18th century till today. It further excited me when we were asked to actually visit the library to read some of the really old cases.

Man, I realised then that I had made the correct decision in signing up for the programme at UM.

As for the lecturers, I was fortunate enough to learn from some of the best professors in the field. Many of our lecturers were already retired or at the verge of retirement and had spent much of their lives working in their specific area. These people were really walking libraries of authorities. They each had their little eccentricities too!

During the programme itself, I realised that it was essential to learn Malaysian Law rather than English Law. While the legal skills may be the same, the specific legal principles can be completely different between the two, such as past consideration and many others.

Also, learning Malaysian Law exposed me to Syariah Law essentials as well. This helped me to further understand the problems faced by the dual legal system practiced in the country. What was a little unfortunate is that the programme did not focus much on the laws of Sabah and Sarawak.

Anyway, after going through the programme for the last few years, I have to say that I never regretted signing up for it.

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Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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