Documentation and the Law Student

I’m sure you are familiar with the ISO buzz. Chances are you might have come across it when you’re at the premises of certain government agencies and some private firms. The common certification is ISO 9000. But what is ISO and how is it relevant to the Law Student?

The essence of ISO lies in documentation. You record and create a standard operating procedure which revolves around the service or product. Coming up with it is not enough; you will have to follow the procedure as well. External auditors would be checking to ensure you comply. If anything goes wrong, you are supposed to sit down and investigate where it went wrong and check it with your procedure. If the error was internal, you need to solve the problem and minimise losses. If you need to change the procedure, by all means do so. On the other hand, if the mistake was external, you have to talk to the vendor or supplier. Explain the purpose of the meeting, inform them the problem and how it is linked to them. Should the other party address the problem, you can keep them. But where things go sour, you have to severe the loss and make a move.

How will this be relevant to the Law Student – and, later, lawyers?

The cornerstone of the Torrens System is “registration is everything”. I would like to adapt this to: records are everything. Please remember that when you practice, your case can be thrown out of court just because you overlooked some trivial technicalities. You forgot to fill in a form or the form was written with blue ink in cursive writing. A manual also helps you manage your life better.

When studying, you could identify how to set priorities. What are the criteria for one task to be more important than another. In your room, you could fix one place to keep your keys and documents. When you want to take it, it’s there. When you need to keep it, there it goes.

Documentation also helps your finances. When you’re eating out, try to ask for and keep the receipt. Or at least record the price. When you buy books and magazines, do the same. Why? Because you can get tax exemption from the latter. Well… maybe your parents can. You can also dictate when and why will you withdraw what amount of money from the bank.

Sounds complicated? Well, sad to say this is what you will have to emphasize on. Heck, as Law students, you ought to learn the double entry system when it comes to the calendar! When you’re working as an in-house counsel, especially for corporations and government agencies, you will face all this. It may not always be known as ISO, but documentation will become part of your life.

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Legal Research Methodology

At one point of time, you will be exposed to legal research methodology. This subject is important to assist you in doing your research for the Honours paper as well as future researches. Did you know that you have to do more research, reading, analysing and digesting information after graduation? What? Please do not tell me you’re shocked? What do you think people in the working world do? Did you think that when you join a law firm, you have all the assistants to help you? I can only say, in many cases, you wish! That imagination of yours applies after 5 years of opening your own firm or after you’ve been promoted to a more senior level. Even then you still need to read, analyse and digest the information before you present a case in court.

What’s that you say? You don’t want to be a practicing lawyer? No problem, the rule still applies. You still need to prepare reports, white paper, presentations etc.

Let’s get back to earth, shall we, O Young Angkasawan. 😉

Practical Tips for LAW558

My partner, Azira Aziz, and I concluded our LRM as a course last Tuesday. It was a presentation of your proposal before Prof. Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi and Ms. Siti Hafsyah Idris. All in less than 5 minutes. In a way, our LRM was smooth sailing. We had our topics approved way before anyone else had. Our proposal paper met no objections and our presentation was 5 minutes or so compared to the rest. All on time, on schedule and no hassle.

“Favouritism” you may cry out? No, I do not think so. Here’s our little secret: we consult the lecturers over and over again – from topic and title selection, to proposal draft to presentation.

We began our project during the mid term holidays in February. We met Prof. Dr. Shad to resolve a dilemma: we had to equal practical and viable area of research. Our learned professor resolved the matter by selecting a more feasible area. We (read: Azira) explained thoroughly on what we intended to cover in this research. There and then we got our topics – which was approved. Simple, isn’t it? And the meeting was less than 1/2 hour!

Then it came to the write up of the proposal paper. We divided up the task. After much procrastination from yours truly, we finally completed our paper – one week before the submission date. You might be wondering, “Was it really procrastination?” Well, relatively speaking, it was. 😉 Anyway, we submitted the draft for proofreading to Ms. Hafsyah. Remember, this is a draft. We ratified the problems, ironed out the creases and the following day, which was the submission day, we submitted our proposal. It was, again, accepted.

The last hurdle is actually the presentation of the research proposal.

Here, my copywriting/commercial writing skills and expertise came out. Can you guess how many slides, including the ‘front page’ and the ‘thank you’ slides, we have? All in all, 12 slides only. My partner kept on saying ‘sempoi giler presentation kita!‘ (trans: “our presentation is very simple!”). Also, I slashed the number of words on a slide. In one particular slide, we included  diagram! Simple. Not an essay