Are you enamoured by the power and prestige of the legal profession? If you’ve got your eye on this highly sought-after career, you’ve probably thought about pursuing a Degree in Law.
So how can you get to the finish line to don that robe and head to court? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can qualify as an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia after completing SPM.
Step #1. Complete a recognised pre-university course
When it comes to pursuing a Law Degree, you are recommended to take pre-university courses that are recognised by the Legal Profession Qualifying Board of Malaysia for the purposes of taking the Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) (see step #3).
Courses that are recognised are:
- Australian Matriculation (e.g. South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) International, Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), New South Wales Higher School Certificate)
- International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)
Step #2. Complete a recognised Law Degree
Once you’ve successfully finished a pre-university course, you can proceed to a Law Degree.
Generally, there are 2 types of degrees that you can pursue — a 3-year Law Degree or a 4-year Law Degree that includes a professional year. Whichever you choose, it’s important to ensure that the degree is recognised by the LPQB.
(i) 3-year Law Degree
A 3-year Law Degree will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills as you chase your dreams to be a qualified lawyer. You will cover a number of crucial law subjects, such as Law of Contract, Law of Torts, Constitutional Law and Criminal Law.
You can pursue these Law Degrees at private institutions in Malaysia or at universities abroad.
However, you must ensure that you complete a recognised Law Degree. Otherwise, you may risk not being able to practise law in Malaysia later on.
(ii) 4-year Law Degree (includes a professional year)
In addition to supplying you with the right skills and knowledge to be a qualified lawyer, a 4-year Law Degree also provides you with professional experience, covering topics such as Law of Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Civil Procedure and Professional Practice.
These Law Degrees are often only offered by Malaysian public universities. Again, it is essential that your Law Degree is recognised by LPQB.
Step #3. Complete the CLP or BPTC
Graduating with a Law Degree doesn’t mark the finish line just yet. You’ll need to complete a professional law exam in order to qualify as an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia — i.e. practise as a lawyer in Malaysia.
There are 2 ways to do this — by completing the Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) or completing the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
(i) Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP)
The Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) refers to a professional law exam conducted by the Legal Profession Qualifying Board of Malaysia (LPQB). The 9-month course is offered by various private colleges in Malaysia.
To qualify for the CLP exam, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Minimum of 3Cs in SPM (or equivalent)
- Minimum of 2Es in A-Level or 2Cs in STPM (or equivalent)
- A recognised 3-year Law Degree with passes in 6 core subjects and graduated within 6 years of initial registration with the university
The CLP exam consists of 5 papers: General Paper, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Professional Practice, which you need to pass during the Main Examination in July.
If you only fail 1 subject, you will be given a conditional pass and can retake the paper (up to 2 times) during the Supplementary Examination in October. If you fail 2 or more papers, you will need to retake all 5 subjects again.
You are only allowed a maximum of 4 attempts at the CLP — i.e. first Main Examination plus 3 resits. After that, you will need to re-register for the CLP again and pay the full fees.
(ii) Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC)
Instead of the CLP, you can also consider taking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in the UK — a vocational training course that aspiring lawyers take to be admitted as barristers in England and Wales. Malaysians or permanent residents with this qualification can also be admitted as an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia.
The course is offered by various institutions in the UK, such as the Cardiff Law School, BPP Law School and The University of Law. You can complete this in 1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time).
To apply for the BPTC, you’ll need to fulfil the requirements set by the Bar Standards Board:
- Graduate with a qualifying Law Degree with at least a lower second-class honours
- Minimum score of 7.5 in each section of the IELTS English Test
- Registered with one of the Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers in England and Wales)
- Passed the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT)
During the course, you will study a range of subjects, including Civil Litigation and Evidence, Advocacy and Opinion Writing.
In order to be called to the bar, you will be required to pass all units and complete 12 qualifying sessions with your Inn, which includes attending social dinners, education dinners and training workshops.
Step #4. Complete your pupillage (chambering)
Pupillage (or commonly known as chambering) refers to the duration where law graduates undergo industrial experience (i.e. internship) in order to be called to the Malaysian bar.
You will be required to complete this after finishing the CLP or BPTC. Graduates who are exempted from the CLP may commence their pupillage immediately after their degree.
During your pupillage (9-month duration), you will shadow a senior counsel, or master (who has at least 7 years of experience), to familiarise yourself with the tasks of an advocate and solicitor. Your tasks may include:
- Conducting research to aid your senior counsel in preparing for a case
- Drafting pleadings
- Preparing affidavits (written statements)
- Interviewing clients
- Observing senior advocates conduct trials in court
Pupils are also required to complete the Ethics and Professional Standards course and 14 days of legal aid — where pupils give free legal advice to members of the public on women’s rights, criminal matters, Syariah law or migrants rights.
At the end of your pupillage, you will be called to the bar and admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor. Congratulations!
We hope this has given you a little more insight into your pathway to being a lawyer after SPM. Although there will be challenges on the long and windy road towards the legal profession, you can rest assured that these hurdles will equip you with the dedication, resilience and integrity that is required of a lawyer.