3 ridiculous mistakes you shouldn’t be making in your job application

The second half of year is always peak period for job applications at law firms. At various times during this period, we will receive applications from local or overseas graduates, as well as those who have passed their CLP or UK Bar exams. Whenever this time of year comes around, I’m always shocked at some of the appalling job applications that I see — and it’s not just me, many fellow employers or recruitment partners share horror stories and regularly ask “how on earth did this person pass law school?”

For the benefit of current applicants, here are 3 ridiculous errors that you really shouldn’t be making:

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Are legal career fairs becoming irrelevant?

The mid-year months of June to August are traditionally popular periods for legal career fairs in Malaysia. During these months, law students are either on a break in between semesters, or on their summer holidays before the start of the new school year.

In recent years, there has been a notable decline in interest in these legal career fairs. Employers who have been participating in these events started noticing a few years ago that the number of attendees was beginning to drop. After some time, we are now seeing employers beginning to lose interest too, and the number of law firms and other employers who are willing to spend on taking up spaces at legal career fairs have reduced dramatically.

The failure of the most recent legal career fair in Kuala Lumpur — the Bar Council’s “Legal Expo” (LEXPO) on 30 July — is a perhaps extreme example of this trend.

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Reflections of a first-time law intern

Guest writer Wong Yen Ni shares her thoughts on law firm internships. She spent June at Donovan & Ho, and is spending July at Peter Ling & van Geyzel, ahead of entering her second year of law at The University of Leeds.

Yen Ni
Yen Ni looking bright and chirpy. This may have been taken before she started her internships.

If you told 16-year-old me that I would be writing an article on legal internships, I would probably have laughed at the absurdity of it, and given you my assurance that I would not go anywhere near the subject of law. But the forces of the universe conspired in special ways to ensure that the exact opposite happens.

Before my enlightenment, I had earnestly vowed not to read law because I felt that it was simply not for me. I found it difficult to imagine finding a sense of belonging in such a seemingly daunting, unforgiving place that did not seem to resonate with my aspirations and personality. I felt that it was hard to be individualistic in a place where everything seemed so rigid and matter-of-fact.

However, I soon discovered that this image of the legal industry that I had constructed so prematurely did not do justice to what it truly embodied, and that I could not be more wrong in my initial thoughts. It turns out that not every lawyer you meet has it all figured out, nor had the ultimate dream to be a lawyer in the first place. And the law, multi-faceted as it is, only grows more interesting with each encounter.

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7 tips to make the most of your law firm internship

7 tips for internships FB

It’s the season for law firm internships — the June to August ‘summer break’ for many law schools. A few years ago, a law graduate who had one or two internships on her CV would stand out. These days, internships are the norm, and a graduate who does not have any work experience is an anomaly.

An internship should be a very intense period of learning, with most interns only willing to commit a one-month period (I recommend at least two months for the best experience) to each internship — because they want holiday time, or to do more than one internship. One month can really fly by, and if you’re not intentional about squeezing the most out of that time, it will be over before you know it.

Here are 7 quick tips on how you can make the most of your law firm internship.

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The Hotshot Series: The Legal Line — the ultimate compendium for aspiring hotshot lawyers

This article was submitted by the authors of the book.

“Justice, Courts and Wigs” — That is what most of the bright eyed high school graduates would think about our overglamourised profession with the proliferation of dramas such as Damages and Suits. This perception translates into a generation of law students who got into law school and instantly realised that this profession is not for them.

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Have coffee with The Malaysian Lawyers!

Careers website Office Parrots are kicking off a new ‘OP Kopi’ feature, and the founders of The Malaysian Lawyer have the honour of being the first invited guests.

It’s an opportunity for law students or recent law graduates to meet us (Lee Shih and Marcus van Geyzel) for a chat over coffee. Edited: Due to popular demand, this event has now been moved to Saturday 23 April 2016 at 11am.

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10 tips on building an awesome legal career

10 tips on building an awesome legal career

Insights from corporate lawyer Marcus van Geyzel on taking your legal career beyond the ordinary.

There is a vast number of lawyers in Malaysia (at last count, there are 16,104 of us), with an ever-increasing number of law graduates coming into the market every year.

I’m often asked for insights on how pupils and young lawyers can set themselves apart in this crowd. These 10 tips are a condensed version of what I usually share — if you want the extended version, buy me a coffee and we’ll talk.

First off, I should make clear that these tips obviously aren’t magic beans that will instantly convert a mediocre lawyer into a good one. There are so many career possibilities open to law graduates, so it’s impossible to have a fixed formula.

There isn’t even an agreed definition of what a ‘lawyer’ is. The basic categories used in Malaysia are ‘corporate lawyer’ and ‘litigation lawyer’ (as all lawyers here are ‘advocates and solicitors’) — but countless nuances exist within these broad, clumsy categorisations. What one lawyer does on a daily basis can be extremely different from what another lawyer does, so these tips will have to be adapted accordingly.

Why do some lawyers seem to excel — at work and in life — while others struggle to make sense of the profession? How come some seem to have boundless enthusiasm for their work even after a decade, while others are burnt out and disillusioned within five years?

I don’t pretend to have a magic formula to building an awesome legal career. But I guarantee that anyone who practises these 10 tips will have a better chance at staying ahead of the disillusioned and unmotivated crowd who see lawyering as ‘just a job’.

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