A 2012 survey by the Malaysian Bar Council found that 43% of new lawyers here had entertained thoughts of quitting the profession within the first three years.
This may seem perplexing, considering many studied hard for their degree, while some put in many hours chambering or interning in order to qualify to practise.
For four friends who had trodden the same path, the explanation for this is the chasm between employee expectations and workplace reality.
To address the situation, Kenneth Chung Yee Khye, Andreanna Ten, Nabila Hussain and New Su Ann toiled for two years to produce The Hotshot Series: The Legal Line, touted as the “ultimate compendium of advice from the actual industry to inspire, inform and illuminate”.
Chung, 24, currently works in an audit firm that is among the Big Four, Ten, 26, is a corporate lawyer, Nabila, 24, is an associate at a tech company, while New, 22, is a final year law student at KDU University College.
“It is a career education publication on the legal industry in Malaysia intended to provide our readers with an in-depth understanding of the industry,” said Chung in a recent interview with The Star.
Chung and his co-authors maintain that far too many people here have the wrong idea of what is means to “practise” law.
“As students, we felt that there was a huge information chasm between the expectations of students and employers and we think this contributes to the quality of lawyers today,” Chung argued.
To make the book relevant and informative, the authors interviewed several dozen lawyers and related professionals, including Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri, Court of Appeal judges, criminal litigators, and heads of wealth and asset management companies, among many others.
Information from these interviews are intertwined with information of the different areas that law students can specialise in, whether they are at the undergraduate or postgraduate levels, both within and outside what is traditionally considered the “legal profession”.
In this book, senior law firm partners get to say clearly what they want from those who work for them, while those who wonder what it is like to intern will also get straight answers.
All these make the book a good read for law students as well as those who are intending to enter the field.
New said many of the lawyers they interviewed advised students to expand their horizon in both knowledge and experience.
“Many lawyers are of the view that law students should not limit themselves to interning only in law firms as internships in different industries show that students have acquired different skills and this enhances their curriculum vitae,” she said.
Echoing Chung and New is Ten, who once interned with a non-governmental organisation outside of Malaysia. “I realised having cross industry acumen is important in being able to solve world problems, such as during my stint in WWF Indonesia,” said Ten.
Good intentions and great content alone are never adequate to get a book published, and the authors have Lexis Nexis to thank after being disappointed by financial hurdles along the way.
“I had almost given up but (New) Su Ann pitched the idea to Lexis Nexis,” Chung said.
After the leading international publisher of law and business publications agreed to cover the costs of printing, everything became smooth sailing.
“We want this book to reach out to as many students as possible,” said Nabila, who added 50% of the royalties they get goes into printing more copies of the book, while another portion of will be donated to the Teach For Malaysia programme.
“We have already contributed several copies to the programme and as more books are sold, more will be rechanneled through this social impact initiative,” Chung added.
The book costs RM49.90 and can be purchased at several book stores.