• Rafaella Winarta & Sharon Reinnata

Asian Law School Realities “Law School Experience and Career Aspirations”



For high school students in their senior year, choosing a career path and its respective major in universities or the business of choosing said universities could be petrifying. It's also not uncommon for college students to find themselves at a cross-road of careers in their last year of university. During this virtual time, learning and engaging with people experienced with those problems could not be more easier.


As the end of school term approaching and graduation looming over our heads, the Jakarta based organization Ikatan Pemuda Tionghoa Indonesia (IPTI) joined by Journalist Lawyer, held a special webinar on February 6, 2021 exactly to answer the questions of the topic ‘Asian Law School Realities “Law School Experience and Career Aspirations”’. As Glenn Wijaya, the chairman of IPTI Jakarta remarked on his welcoming speech, “The webinar will be useful for current or nearly graduated students as COVID changes the way of study and conduct challenges, I think it’s great if we can learn from panelist this afternoon on how to maintain time, how they manage extracurricular and internship with outstanding CV.”

Moderated by Vanessa X. Kaliye, a third-year law student in Universitas Pelita Harapan, the webinar welcomed the brightest of the brightest Asian law students as panelists. To share their vast experience in the field of law school, they had Benson Fan, a third-year law student from National University of Singapore who will be graduating next year with a job offer; Muhamad Faisal, third-year law student in Universitas Brawijaya, Indonesia, with an interests in international law and moot court; Ong Hui Heng, currently studying in University of Leeds, UK after two years in Taylor's University, Malaysia; Marvey, a Juris Doctor student from the University of the Philippines; Himanshu Malik, final year BA LLB student in National Law University, Lucknow, India; and last Nicolas Ranza, a second-year LLB student from Thammasat University, Thailand.


The first question tackled was probably the frequently asked question by graduation high school students, which is, how to get into such prestigious law schools. Fan in addition to reminding that university entrance in Singapore is quite selective and competitive, also said, “National University of Singapore required A level results with a minimum of 3 As or IB. Entrance test also had two other aspects: interview and essay which covers critical thinking, and ways to reason and argue.”


Agreeing with Fan, Ong explained how Malaysia universities required A levels or IGCSE too but with a little different system, on the systems he said, “There are two types of institutions, private and public, Taylors University is private. When applying to a public institution, they will accept and distribute the students according to the quote available. Applying to private is easier, so most who can’t get into the central or public system will choose a private institution. Private institutions will require IGCSE or A Level and there isn’t really any essay or interview.”


Which law system Thailand adopts while never being colonized?


Continuing the session, Vanessa asked, “law is a byproduct of our country's history or from colonization, how about Thailand?” Regarding his home country system of law, Ranza explained that while never colonized, Thailand got influences from various countries on its law system, it has a bit of civil law but also common law from German, Japan, English and even Italy.


All the law degrees, what’s the difference?

While studying in law schools generally are the same, the degrees received at the end are slightly different. Marvey from Philippines explained what exactly Juris Doctor is, “Since 1987, the Philippines has had the Juris Doctor curriculum in which students are exposed to practical law and core bar subjects. It requires students to go to internship or apprenticeship and then thesis. The JD program is adopted because they think it's required for actual practice.”


Unlike the Philippines with the JD, Indonesia has its SH. Muhamad said that while SH is the one anyone will get from undergraduate law, if a student did a join degree with international class, the student will get both SH and LLB. Slightly differing from Indonesia, Malik said, “BA LLB is a special branch and we can just take LLB instead of BA LLB. But we need some kind of graduation in core subjects because when we enter law school we are expected to understand the basics. Because our constitution is the lengthiest so we need basic understanding in the foundation. BA LLB also takes 5 years while if you are going for LLB you need 3 years before so in total 6 years.”


In Malaysia, Ong who had studied between the UK and Malaysia explained that if a Malaysian university partnered with another country, the students will graduate with degrees from both and its possible to do courses from universities abroad while doing it from Malaysia which is convenient during COVID.


Does your country accept international students?


According to Ong, this depends on the needs of the LPQB, and others. Unlike in private institutions, CLP is not required in public institutions. Basically, you can study in Malaysia, but it depends on the university you choose. Malaysia welcomes international students very much. On the other hand, according to Benson, Singapore has a system similar to Malaysia, however, the selection process may be a little tighter because the Singapore market is quite small, and usually if you want to become a legal lawyer in Singapore you have to take a test a test b, which in his opinion is quite a complicated process.


How does Covid-19 affect the teaching and learning system in your school and what are the obstacles?


According to Faishal, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought enormous changes to our lives today. Our life depends on the internet connection, for example, if our internet is bad and we have to practice court mooting, then that will be an obstacle for us. Besides, if we want to collect exams and suddenly the internet goes down, then we will be considered as late submission. On the other hand, according to Marvey, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, their school used a discussion system, where students read and professors asked for reading in class, and the types of exams were in the form of essays and some were reading.


However, after the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines held a lockdown, so professors were given a choice of teaching systems, which are assin and sin; Sin is an online learning system using Zoom, and still using the same method (Socratic). Meanwhile, assin will depend on the student's learning speed, but they should provide an output so that students and professors can freely negotiate on how they want the class to flow. In addition, Wi-Fi and mental health issues are the key. Interaction and discussion are the things most often done in law school. Hence, if the Wi-Fi is bad, then the process can be hampered.


According to Malik, virtual learning is a new experience for students and lecturers in India. Some people cannot connect to class and interact with professors because of the internet connection issue. To add Malik’s statement, Ranza said "Before the Covid-19 pandemic, our face-to-face school period started from August-November. However, because Covid-19 started to blow up in the last December, we are now forced to do online classes. We often use Google Classroom, where everything including assignments and homework will be uploaded before the live class."


Organization, Journaling and Competitions


Why do you join international mooting and how do you manage your time in the middle of busy lectures? According to Faishal, participating in mooting activities, can make students familiar with skills that we cannot get in class, for example, learning good public speaking, learning to do research properly, etc. He also said that it will help us in our career, because we are also trained to be disciplined. In addition, it will add to our experience, which later we can include it into our CV.


What are the benefits of joining MUN (Model United Nation)?


"There are actually lots of benefits of joining MUN, including learning to act diplomatically, improving communication skills, increasing research skills, finding solutions to world conflicts, etc. In my opinion, all of that is useful for every aspect, not just law, "Ranza said.


Why is journaling important in our future career?


"It is part of a law student's duties or law practice. Our job is to specify the terms of judgment, so that people will understand. As well as research on issues that have not yet reached the court, can be more easily understood by the judge. " Malik explained.


How can being a research assistant help you in the learning process?


"I volunteered and it helps me with my studies because it trains my drafting skills. When you read academic articles, which are usually long and complicated, we can make it clearer and easier to communicate with clients.” Said Benson.


Why is following the organization so important?


According to Marvey’s opinion, organizations provide knowledge that we cannot get in academics. In addition, the skills acquired in the organization are as important as our GPA.


Can foreigners legally practice as a lawyer in your country?


Foreign advocates have to submit the terms and conditions to Menkumham to hold and obtain work permits. Besides that, the number of foreign advocates depends on Indonesian law. Usually, in Indonesiann law firms, the ratio is 2:1 (Indonesian advocate and foreign lawyer). Meanwhile, according to Ranza, Thailand is different from Indonesia. Foreigners are not allowed to work as consultants or legal consultants for companies, based in Thailand.


Personal branding


How can we as a law student introduce ourselves to the society more?


According to Himanshu, personal branding depends on your profession. To reach a lot of people, there are several ways you can do, for example, making articles in the newspaper, participating in many competitions, joining mooting, joining MUN, etc. Therefore, our social network will spread on their own. Marvey also added that personal branding is how we project ourselves without anyone knowing who we are. Basically, all of us here want people to see us on the positive side. Then, what we have to do is actively stamp ourselves. If you want to appear independent, it means you have to be disciplined, not late in submitting assignments. Besides, we must take all the opportunity to brand ourselves.


According to Benson, personal branding is when you do the best in everything, and how we act and be nice to everyone. Ong also agrees with everyone who has given their opinion, and he added that the most important thing, it's not just the conversation. Because people usually talk for 1 minute, while building personal branding is usually 10 years. Hence, staying genuine is the right way to start your personal branding.


Q&A Session


1st Question, asked by Dimas for Ong, “Is it that important for a law student to join an organization? What are the best things to do for a law student like me that currently isn't joining any university organization?”


According to Ong, not everything has a good ending, but most have many benefits. The experience we get does not depend on what organization, does not depend on what division, but it depends on how you see the positive side and also depends on your genuine heart. Try to have the best experience.


With a limited time, the moderator chose only two questions, and the second question came from Maximmilian to Muhammad, “I am an Indonesia high schooler and I want to practice law in Indonesia, however, I decide to take my studies outside of Indonesia (assume I take corporate law). Is it possible for me to practice in Indonesia despite my studies being outside of Indonesia?” To close of the Q&A session, Muhammad Faisal answered that practicing law in Indonesia after studying law abroad is possible only as corporate lawyer or company lawyer and it is not possible to go to ourt because the curriculum doesn’t match Indonesia law system. It is possible though after taking a few classes to get SH.

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