14th Malaysian Law Conference

The 3-day conference has drawn to a close and overall it was a great conference I thought. The change of venue from the usual seedy-ish looking Legend to the KL Convention Centre was brilliant. The downside of attending each bi-annual conference is that work really gets in the way, and it is difficult to just clear those 3 days to attend the conference.I was roped in to do a bit of webreporting for the Malaysian Bar website as well this year. I was also played a small part in the Day 3 Organising Committee, so I was kept quite busy throughout the conference.

The conference really over-ran all its slots throughout the 3 days. I don’t think the delegates really complained as each session was highly engaging, but there must be a way to better time manage each session. This year’s conference seemed worse in that aspect than two years ago.

Some of the highlights over the 3 days. The first session I managed to attend was only the afternoon session on Day 1, on technology and the law (I hate that picture of myself!). I regret not attending the opening, especially the opening address of our Sultan of Perak. I stayed on for the other sessions and it was then time to head to the Renaissance Hotel to attend the dinner graciously hosted by our Prime Minister.

Day 2 morning was spent in the office frantically trying to fair some affidavits to be filed and served. I would be playing tour guide to some foreign delegates in the afternoon. We had extended invitations to the foreign young lawyers to take a quick tour round our new KL Court Complex as well as the Bar Council. Disappointingly, we only had 3 showing up, 2 from Singapore and 1 from Indonesia. One of the Singaporeans was a long-time friend, Laura, so it was good to catch up during the afternoon.

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I showed off our KL Court Complex at Jalan Duta and then we headed to the Bar Council building for some tea and snacks. A quick walk around the Council meeting rooms and we then also had a nice tour of the Council library. That was my first time inside there as well!

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Bar Council library

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Outside Bar Council

It was then time to hit Bar Savanh for the After Party. Free-flow beer and lots of finger food sated our appetites, and we had a great time mixing and meeting the delegates of the conference.

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I had been invited to host Day 3’s session in the morning entitled ‘Lawyers in the New Millenium – Are We Turning Lawyers into Working Machines?‘. I was getting a little bit stressed about it as it was going to be carried out through a talk-show format with me being the talk-show host. Oprah, be my inspiration!

We had an interesting panel, with a clinical psychologist, the Singapore young lawyers’ chairperson, a partner of a law firm and a young lawyer. Quite a number of interesting issues were raised I felt, and the session was just too short. All of us were just about getting into the groove of things, getting the audience involved as well, and then time had run out. I did get very divided opinions. Some of my friends came up to me to congratulate me on a well-run session which they thought was engaging and the issues raised were something they could relate to. Another friend, and I would imagine some of the senior lawyers, would have left the session with the impression that the young lawyers were merely whining and griping. A lawyer raised a pertinent question from the floor, and it was left still unanswered during our discussion due to shortage of time. “What do young lawyers want?” I think I will write on this topic further in a future blog post.

The session right after lunch featured the infamous Lingam video tape. After the march, after we have talked about it, what were we going to do about it? It appeared that the government wasn’t going to anything about it, neither was the attorney general. We could not go and march again. Was a boycott of the court the next necessary step? I don’t know.

One of the final sessions of Day 3 was the South East Asian Young Lawyers Convention. This was unprecedented to have regional young lawyers meet up and the aim was to set up a South East Asian Young Lawyers Alliance, which would generally help networking and contribute to an exchange of ideas. This would primarily be through the setting up of an e-group as well as to encourage professional exchange programmes among the different jurisdictions. The different jurisdictions represented were Sabah, Sarawak, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and our invited guest, Hong Kong as well.

I was glad that I played some part in this inaugural convention (where the second convention is already being planned for next year). It was fascinating hearing the different young lawyers describing what practice was like in their own countries and also how similar some of the problems and issues we face for instance, young lawyers leaving the profession. A Kuala Lumpur Declaration was issued to further encourage the promotion of the Alliance.

With the conference brought to a close, it was then time to party a bit (again, for the 3rd night in a row) with a dinner hosted at the convention centre. It was time to tuck in to more food and enjoy the entertainment for the night. By now, I was completely exhausted and had to excuse myself and head back home to collapse in my bed.

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Meet up between Malaysia’s National Young Lawyers Committee and Singapore’s Young Lawyers Committee

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