Law School Ending

Last month, I found out that I had passed all my third year subjects. This means that I have effectively collected enough credit hours to pass my degree. Although the actual graduation will only be next year, my result slip states that I have passed with honours, subject to Senate approval.

On top of that, I actually did quite well in my final year law papers. I go nearly all A’s! Too bad the one C in my second year dragged down my CGPA though. However, this is not the end of my Law school journey. I am still taking classes!

I’m taking the opportunity to learn a little bit more Law, specifically an elective that I did not take previously. I had originally signed up for it last year but I had to switch electives as they didn’t offer it last year. So, I’m taking it this year instead.

Anyhow, I thought that I should say a few words about my three years in Law school.

It was a very fruitful experience. I actually think that it’s important for everyone to go to law school – even if only to learn the basics. I had learned a lot of interesting things about Malaysian law that will hopefully be useful in my life.

What’s next? I see a potential LLM in the future.

Standard Form Contracts

Recently, I had an occasion that required a service contract to be drafted. So, I asked a lawyer friend of mine how much it would cost to draft a simple legal contract and my friend informed me what it would typically cost. In my opinion, it would cost too much to do it. So, my friend suggested that I draft one myself and my friend helpfully suggest that I start with Butterworths Forms and Precedents.

So, I happily trudged down to the UM law library and looked up the documents. Lo and behold, Volume 5 turned into a goldmine. It had all sorts of Computer Contracts in it – contracts that are useful for most computer services companies such as mine. I was quite happy with my find, but I then realised that this was a problem with the legal industry.

Things like standard form contracts should be made open source. Everyone should have direct access to standard form contracts. Furthermore, the standard form contracts should be regularly updated as per open source principles. This allows the standard form contracts to evolve with the changing body of Law.

What made it worse was when I looked up the price of such forms and precedents. Some of these things can cost up to RM30,000!

Nobody should be charged for standard form contracts that are useful enough to address most issues in normal cases. By all means, Lawyers should charge for their services to customise the contracts but the standard ones should be made available for free.

Why?

Firstly, for most normal cases, a standard form contract would suffice and most people would benefit by having regular transactions protected by a properly structured and worded contract. This would help in any dispute as the terms are reduced to writing. This would benefit society as a whole.

Secondly, the open source standard form contracts would serve as a living document as it constitutes the wisdom of the masses. It would not be built from the sum of the experience of any individual lawyer but the sum of the experiences of all contributing lawyers. Such standard form contracts would be stronger for everyone.

Thirdly, just like open source software, customisations can be forked. This will essentially extend standard form contracts to ultimately address almost any case on the planet. If you need a contract for a specific scenario, you should be able to find one from the myriad forks available.

Eventually, it would all benefit the legal fraternity as a whole.

Law: Changing Mindsets

I’ve just finished my second year Law exams, two weeks ago. I have to confess that I’ve not been updating this blog much this year because I had been busy with a lot of work at my company and I didn’t really have much to write about as nothing exciting happened.

However, after studying Law intently for two year, I have to say that I have experienced a changing mindset.

I have been doing engineering for a long time now, to have developed a certain analytical mindset. In engineering, I am able to grasp complexities and to identify problems and their solutions. However, the problems encountered are usually of a technical nature.

What the Law has done to me is to make me see human societal problems in a similar way. I now have a suitable framework to reference, when looking at societal problems from personal family problems to crime and national issues.

It’s a change in mindset.

Whereas, in the past, I would only see the engineering solutions to human problems, I can now see the legal issues and solutions to them too. So, instead of merely having a single engineering framework to reference, I now have two very similar frameworks to use.

And that’s the other thing that I have discovered after learning the Law, that is: there are more similarities and differences between Engineering and Law. However, the two fields tend to attract characters on opposite ends of the spectrum to their calling.

But that’s stuff for another blog entry.