What you can do with a law degree

Budding lawyers in action at the BAC Moot Competition Finals. Judges L-R: Murali Kandasamy (CEO of BAC), Gopal Sri Ram (former judge of the Federal Court) and Andrew S Kalish (Head, Legal & Compliance of BAC).

Think of a law degree and what comes to mind (other than charismatic personalities in fancy suits and briefcases seen in popular legal dramas) is the word “versatile”.

Why? Because studying law equips an individual with the necessary skills to pursue a variety of careers.

Law degree holders display integral skills sought after by many employers in the corporate and commercial world.

Law graduates are known for their good command of the language, impeccable writing and research skills, keen eye for detail, ability to be focused and self-motivated, as well as strong analytical and negotiation skills.

The traditional route for law graduates is a career in the legal profession. As law plays a pivotal role in many facets of social governance, lawyers become indispensable members in society who are knowledgeable in matters of the law.

The popular American comedian, Jerry Seinfeld once claimed, “To me, a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We’re all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there is a problem the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.”

A lawyer in Malaysia (known as an advocate and solicitor) may be in private practice or serve in the government sector.

An advocate and solicitor handles all aspects of legal work ie legal research, legal documentation and representation in court.

It is widely accepted that those who are attracted to the legal profession should enjoy reading and analysing a voluminous number of cases (an essential skill acquired in law school), are good listeners and negotiators.

Lawyers in the government sector may be attached to the Attorney-General Chambers (AG’s Chambers) or as a legal adviser in any branch of the state government.

The Attorney-General is the main legal adviser to the government with a minimum of 10 years legal experience either as a private practitioner or member of the judicial and legal services or a state legal adviser (Article 123 of the Federal Constitution).

The recently appointed Attorney-General of Malaysia, The Honourable Tuan Tommy Thomas was formerly a private legal practitioner of 40 years.

Other lawyers in the AG’s Chambers are known as Deputy Public Prosecutors who attend court on behalf of the AG’s Chambers.

Another related area of the legal profession is the judiciary or the judicial legal services.

Judges are seasoned members of the legal profession entrusted to render judgments based on the evidence presented and testimony of witnesses.

The position is highly regarded in the legal field as it comes with great responsibilities and a deep understanding of the law.

Law and politics are interlinked. The rhetorical skills acquired by studying law make law graduates well-suited for a career in politics.

Eminent leaders and politicians with a legal background include Mahatma Ghandhi, Nelson Mandela and former US President Barack Obama to name a few.

Law graduates interested in making a positive impact on society may choose to get involved in charities or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) championing social causes.

In the commercial world, arbitrators and mediators are sought after to settle matters out of court. Alternative dispute resolution is preferred to save time and costs incurred by businesses in bringing disputes to court.

In the corporate world, a corporate counsel is integral in handling legal matters related to a corporate entity including drafting business and employment contracts and dealing with external lawyers for court representation.

Those who enjoy studying law but lack the interest in legal practice may find that they are more suited to teaching law, namely, a law lecturer.

Many lawyers have been known to make a career move into legal academia to share their knowledge for the benefit of the future generation of law graduates.

Having a knack for the written word makes law degree holders a natural fit for careers in publishing and marketing such as a legal editor, proofreader, copywriter, or even a novelist such as the famous legal fiction novelist, John Grisham.

Law degree holders with an interest in human resources or recruitment could even be legal recruitment specialists – the career options are endless with a law degree.

Article contributed by Brickfields Asia College, www.bac.edu.my 03-2274 4165 (KL Campus) or 03-7960 0063 (PJ Campus)