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Study Tips for CLP Prep

By Liew Hong Wei




As my exam looms in less than three months, I had the opportunity to review some of my good choices and shortcomings in trying to prepare for this paper.

The Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) is feared for many reasons. I do not claim to be an expert in this, as I have yet to pass the paper. But, I’ve come to learn things that I wish I had known a year ago. In no particular order, here are some tips before you walk into Bangunan Peperiksaan, Universiti Malaya.



A mindset shift

Remember, first and foremost, that CLP is a procedural paper. Many of us go straight into the syllabus with that old LLB mindset: memorising concepts and principles, trying to debate which is better etc. The key here is to understand the application, i.e. what should one do if presented with the legal issue on hand?



Short and precise answers

The board generally frowns on answers that are both long and irrelevant. Knowing the topic well does not mean that one can answer the question well. One needs to know the issue at hand and to answer that issue directly.


Forget about introductions or outlining the whole legal principle. Answer the question in short pithy sentences.



Read the cases, don’t memorise them

When you start the syllabus, you’ll realise that there are massive amounts of primary sources you would be required to cite.


Focus on the legal principles first, as that will be the answer to your particular issue in the question. Remembering your sources comes later. The best way to fully comprehend the legal principles would be to read cases in full, as well as finishing statutes from cover to cover. In the transition from LLB to CLP, you would find a de-emphasis on secondary sources such as journals, textbooks and the like, and a greater emphasis on primary sources.



Prepping early

I bet you’ve heard about the benefits of preparing early. That’s what I did, and it saved my life. I started preparing before CLP started in September. During my holidays, I took a short internship, quit, and focused months preparing for my intake. With a few more months until my exams, I was glad that I saved a considerable amount of time laying down a solid foundation.


You might ask, how can one prepare well? Opening up your notes and memorising the legal principles from the said notes is ineffective. The bulk of your study time should be in reading primary sources and in practising past year questions. Past year questions are posted on the

Legal Profession Qualifying Board’s (LPQB) website.


If you like to study early, you can get a textbook from the college of your choice, or jump directly to a statute. Get your hands on the Rules of Court 2012, Criminal Procedure Code, or the like.


Read the official documents published by the LPQB. If you can get your hands on the syllabus early, that’s the best. Otherwise, you will have to register to get your latest syllabus. Also, do read statements such as these. In general, keep yourself updated with the updates on the LPQB website.



Getting the big picture view

It’s easy to get swamped by Civil and Criminal Procedure when you are just getting started. Try to obtain a big picture view of these two subjects by understanding the entire progression (of a civil suit or criminal charge respectively) rather than parroting each chapter listed in the textbooks provided. By understanding every process as a whole, you would be able to grasp individual topics and issues more easily.



Working while studying?

Some might suggest the possibility of working while studying. The LPQB has certainly designed the CLP for professionals. However, working, even in a law firm, may be a double-edged sword. It is not guaranteed that you may learn what you need to learn for CLP. But it is guaranteed that it will take up the time you would need to study. Some have accused full-time students as being lazy, and part-time students as more hardworking in getting studies done. While that may be the case, that fact may not translate in actually passing the examination. I think it would be much wiser to dedicate your time as a full-time student, if it’s possible to do so.



Transitioning from LLB

In the process of transitioning from LLB to CLP, you will eventually revisit concepts learnt in your undergraduate degree, which largely includes principles from England and Wales. CLP tests you only and primarily on Malaysian Law. This would mean to unlearn some of the concepts that you had learnt in your degree and to re-learn Malaysian Law. Taylor’s University does a good job in disciplining its students to compare and contrast the two jurisdictions. Nevertheless, it is important to be thoroughly familiar with Malaysian Law.


On a side note, if you’re considering between a 2+1 or doing a full 3 year in Taylor’s, I would advise taking the latter if you’ll be taking the CLP. I did the full programme in Taylor’s, and I had an easier transition to CLP as compared to my English graduated counterparts.



Attending lectures

Don’t ignore any lecturers. Some of my friends hate lecturer X or lecturer Y for many reasons. Being boring, confusing, skips classes etc. This gives them an excuse to skip the lecture. It’s not advisable to skip a lecture, even though they can’t enforce your attendance. It’s because you’ll be bound to miss details, concepts or real-life applications if you miss a particular lecture.


On that note, always be sceptical on what your lecturer says. There are a lot of things that a lecturer may spout as gospel, but it may be wrong, or it’s in their particular opinion and the law is unclear on the subject. Some lecturers quote obsolete cases, in which you must avoid.


Always keep abreast on the developments of the law. LPQB loves to test you on recent landmark cases. More importantly, you will be wrong if you apply a legal principle that is overruled.



Rumours, rumours, rumours

Throughout your studies, you will encounter a plethora of soothsayers or “bomohs”. They either tell you to spot questions, attempt to provide tuition to you or sell you notes with a price high enough to break your bank. It’s a social phenomenon for any apocalypse to have its prophets. Keep an open mind, but be aware that their claims are likely false. If they try to convince you to buy their products, avoid them.


On that note, do be aware of exaggerations. For instance, you’ll hear that the number of topics for CLP climbs from 10 to 12, and to 15. I’ve even heard of 20 topics once.


Just to lay it out for you, these are the subjects in CLP:

  • Civil Procedure

  • Criminal Procedure

  • Evidence

  • General Paper

  • Professional Practice

Out of these five, two have more than one area of the law in it. The General Paper consists of Contract and Tort law, while the Professional Practice encapsulates Ethics, Land Law, Probate and Bankruptcy law. Altogether, there are nine subjects in CLP. Six of these are considerably smaller than the big three of Evidence, Civil and Criminal Procedure.

Another rumour going around is the existence of a quota system. In the Law of Evidence, we learn that hearsay statements aren’t allowed as evidence. This means that we should not believe rumours about the quota system without empirical evidence.


While the data published in the LPQB website here is grossly outdated, one might infer from the existence of variations in the statistics, such as this, indicate that there is no quota system in place. If there is a quota, a constant rate of passes throughout the years can be expected, but there has been a drop in passing rates.


A simpler answer would be because it’s hard, and students can’t answer the questions satisfactorily. As a believer of the Occam’s razor, my advice would be to ignore the rumours as it’s practically a conspiracy theory.



That’s all for now and to those taking the CLP soon, all the best!

 

Disclaimer:

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Taylor’s Lexicon, Taylor’s Law School and Taylor’s University.







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