“I think merely being called to the Bar is not sufficient.”
Mohd Hishamudin, who turned 66 on Sept 9, said this when asked whether law schools here and overseas were producing competent advocates for Malaysian courts.
“I am afraid, judging from their performance before me at the Court of Appeal, my answer will have to be in the negative,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Star.
“We need to establish a law academy for those graduates aspiring to be advocates, where they have to undergo a compulsory course and pass an examination in advocacy, before being allowed to appear as advocates before the courts.”
Stressing the duration of the course should be for at least one year, Mohd Hishamudin suggested roping in retired judges, practising lawyers and academics to lecture at the law academy.
Asked whether the Bar Council’s proposed Common Bar Course (CBC) would be a viable alternative, he said he was not familiar with it.
Mohd Hishamudin’s advice for aspiring lawyers was to “always be bold and articulate” in presenting their client’s case.
“Do not easily feel intimidated, no matter how intimidating or difficult you find the judge to be.
“Always uphold the ethics of the profession. Do not be disheartened if you lose cases; nobody becomes a good advocate overnight,” he said.
He said lawyers learn and improve from experience and from their mistakes.
“Always read and keep abreast with current developments in the law. As a lawyer, particularly, a litigation lawyer, the learning process never ends,” he added.
When contacted, Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru, the CBC would “ensure uniform training in Malaysian legal practice for all new entrants regardless of their tertiary or post tertiary education, whether locally or overseas”.
“It will also replace the CLP (Certificate in Legal Practice) that lacks practical training and does not cater for critical areas of litigation and non-litigation practice,” said Steven.
Steven, who is also the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the CBC, said the desired objective is to provide training that is benchmarked against international standards.
He said the Bar was working with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB) on the CBC and it has also held consultations with the public and private universities.
Steven said he hoped that the proposal would be discussed by the LPQB soon.