PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has called on the government to implement the Common Bar Course (CBC) as the single entry point into the legal profession.
Its president George Varughese said that they had advocated for the implementation of CBC for all law graduates and as the final arbiter of quality for new entrants to the legal profession for over two decades.
“It is our view that the CLP in its current form does not adequately provide the necessary knowledge and practical skills for law graduates who seek to join the legal profession,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Nov 15).
Varughese said this in response to a statement by de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong who said that the government was “considering the possibility of replacing the Certificate of Legal Practice (“CLP”) exam with a common bar course”.
According to Varughese, the ultimate objective of the CBC is to raise the standards of the provision for legal services, and to ensure that all individuals seeking to enter the legal profession were subject to uniform standards of knowledge and legal skills, regardless of the origin of their undergraduate legal qualifications.
He said all stakeholders had agreed during the focus group on legal education meetings held between Aug 2017 and Feb 2018 that the CBC should be the path for those wishing to enter the legal profession.
He added that the CBC would focus on the practical skills that need to be developed during pupillage, where those seeking admission as advocates and solicitors of the High Court in Malaya would be required to undergo regular, supervised training and assessments developed by the Legal Profession Qualifying Board, who would work with the Bar Council.
“This will ensure that all pupils in chambers, regardless of their law firm, location, prior education or other factors, will have access to similar standards of training.
“The Malaysian Bar believes that the emphasis of the CBC should not be primarily on examinations.
“Rather, the CBC should be outcome-driven and focus on, amongst others, the development of critical skills, including those relating to advocacy, legal procedure in civil as well as criminal matters, arbitration and mediation, negotiation, and managing the operations of a law firm,” said Varughese.
He added that they would play their role in facilitating a smooth transition as well as the effective conduct of the CBC, bearing in mind the best interests of the public and the legal profession in Malaysia.
The CLP is compulsory for all law graduates who hold degrees from foreign universities, including those who take "external" law programmes.
They have to pass all five papers in one sitting before they can be called to the Malaysian Bar and be allowed to practise as a lawyer.
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