PETALING JAYA: Muda vice-president Lim Wei Jiet has dismissed the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) professional examination as irrelevant to legal practice.
“It’s a total waste of time,” he said.
Lim, a practising lawyer, said the exam required rote memorisation and success depended on how well candidates could regurgitate what they had learned. “It does not prepare you for the realities of legal practice.”
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Speaking to FMT, he proposed instead a common bar exam for all law graduates, regardless of whether they are from public or private universities, local or foreign.
He said the syllabus for the exam must cover, among other things, procedural regulations and the practice of conducting a trial and drafting corporate agreements.
Those are some of the skills that some members of the legal fraternity have said law graduates lack.
Bryan Wong, an in-house counsel who passed his CLP exam last year, was in support of a more pragmatic approach to preparing law graduates for the real world.
“The CLP exam does not give us any practical skills,” he said. “We just learn by memorising case law and copying from statutes.”
He said he would, for example, have found it helpful to learn how to draft an agreement during his CLP course.
Priyenshar Sebastian, who will sit for her CLP exam this year, said she was concerned that the knowledge she gained in her CLP course would not be applicable when she entered the workforce.
“Sitting for a written exam that is extremely bulky and not in touch with the realities of the legal world does not help aspiring lawyers reach their fullest potential,” she said.
However, corporate lawyer Aw Yee Chen said abolishing the CLP exam would be only a “superficial solution” as public university graduates still had the edge of having been exposed to local law during their undergraduate studies.
She also said that some practical skills could be learned on the job.
“Perhaps the answer is not a common bar exam for all, but to retain the CLP exam and improve on the method of teaching so that there would be less cramming, better guidance and more practical content,” said Aw, who passed her CLP exam two years ago.
Last week, former Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir said local law graduates were exempted from taking the CLP exam because a CLP module was already part of their final-year course.
Salim, who is chairman of a committee tasked with preparing a curriculum, acknowledged that the CLP exam was seen to be too academic and to need a heavier emphasis on the practice of the law.