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First Class LLB: If my brother could do it, then so could I

Discover how two siblings not only stumbled into studying the University of London LLB, but also both completed it with a First Class and a love for the law. 

Siblings Elycia and Daniel at their study spaces
Siblings Elycia and Daniel at their study spaces.

Elycia Chua obtained a First Class LLB in 2018 and is currently enrolled in the Bar Professional Training Course in London, UK. Daniel Chua obtained a First Class LLB in 2013 and is an Associate in Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Here, they answer a few questions on choosing to study the LLB and any advice they offer fellow students to gain outstanding results.

What is your motivation for studying law, why did you choose this subject?

Elycia:

The reason I chose law is laughably simple; if my brother could do it, then so could I. I wish I could have had a more profound reason, but I’ve always acted quite impulsively on such decisions. However, after I started this course, I realised that I deeply appreciated how mentally stimulating the subject could be. I have no doubt that I had made the right decision to walk this path. 

In all honesty, I never imagined myself studying law. I always thought that I lacked what one would usually expect from an advocate, as I was definitely not a fan of any form of public speaking. Therefore the thought of standing before a judge terrified me. The one thing that interested me most about the law was the range of areas in which the law applied. So much of everyday life can be linked back to the law. I have always loved the learning process, therefore being able to branch out and study about so many different areas brought a sense fulfilment. A big factor that appealed to me about studying law was the subjectivity of the issues at hand; the fact that things were never truly just black and white. It was being given the ability to play around with this grey area, especially in essay questions, that made this course extremely enjoyable. 

Daniel:

My initial interest and foray into law did not stem from any lifelong yearning for justice, or other more romanticised motivations. It was my parents who encouraged me to read law, which I happily followed through as a means to fulfil my mother’s own lifelong aspiration to be a lawyer herself.

I was very happy to read law with the University of London. During the course of my study, I was exposed to a wealth of academic and practical reading material. This developed my interest in law as both an academic and practical endeavour. 

A few years ago I didn't see myself doing anything else unrelated to law. Much has happened since then; I’ve been admitted as an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia, completed a Master of Laws with University College London, and have been working in Malaysian law firms and international law firms for over three years. Today, I continue to practice law in an international law firm, and I would not have done things any differently.

What are the key tips you offer fellow students for outstanding results?

Elycia:

Start early. A few hours of work a day for a few months is definitely worth more than staying up for many hours trying to cram every bit of information in before going into an exam. The first point of reference whenever you begin a new chapter should definitely be the study guide that is provided by the University of London. It would truly be like biting the hand that feeds you to ignore the guide, since everything that one would need to know for the exam is contained in it. The additional readings highlighted in the study guide are vital if you want to approach any of the essay questions.

Daniel:

Prepare yourself for hard work. The University’s subject guides are brilliant, and they serve as the primary focus of your studies. Supplement them with deep and meaningful reading from textbooks and other further reading recommended by the subject guide. 

Make your own notes. It forces you to (i) read the primary material; (ii) understand the primary material; and (iii) re-read the primary material. When you read your own notes, you recall your understanding of the reading of the primary material. Compared with reading other notes and summaries, you will not have such good recollection.

Examiner reports are vital to understanding what examiners expect when addressing questions. Often, examiner reports differentiate good answers from excellent ones. This will help you find your way to a first class answer.

Finally, surround yourself with like-minded people who undertake the programme. The social and academic support between yourself and fellow students will enrich your understanding of difficult legal topics. 

Any motivational words for fellow students to keep working hard?

Elycia:

An LLB is definitely no walk in the park, and I know that sometimes it feels like you may legitimately drown in all the readings that you have to do. But there is really nothing sweeter than seeing your efforts reflected in your results. A little bit of work done every day is better than nothing at all, and before you know it you’ll be prepared for the exams when they roll around. I hope that in the end your efforts will come to fruition, and that you will be satisfied with the final result that you obtained. 

Daniel:

Nothing worth having comes easy. It has been over five years since I graduated and looking back, I have absolutely no regrets over the hard work I put in to obtain a First Class Honours. 

What was the most important support you received during your studies?

Elycia:

Undoubtedly, I would not have been able to survive this course, let alone obtain the result that I did, had I been left to my own devices. Therefore I owe the following people my utmost gratitude. 

First and foremost, my parents supported me in every way that they were able to. They spared no expense in ensuring that I had all the necessary material I needed for the course, and would even go so far as to ensuring that I always had a steady supply of nourishment and herbs at my disposal in order to boost my memory. I hope that this achievement can assure them that their efforts were not wasted. 

Finally, the support from my brothers and my friends definitely kept me mentally and emotionally sane during the course of this degree. They reminded me that there is more to life than just slaving over books, and it is these moments of respite that gave me the energy I needed to continue on with my studies. 

Daniel:
It has been some time since I graduated, but I remember receiving tremendous academic and study support from both the University of London and the Advance Tertiary College (ATC) in Penang. The University’s academically rigorous programme, complemented by the College’s time-tested pedagogy blended together effectively to leave me nothing short of a full experience in studying law. On the one hand, the University of London provided unparalleled access to a wealth of intellectually stimulating material which forms the foundation of its law programme. On the other hand, ATC provides academic support through its lectures and tutorials delivered through their experienced and dedicated academic faculty. The College also provides opportunities to participate in moot competitions held in Malaysia and overseas, which complemented my learning in law.

Apart from academic support, social support is also valuable. I surrounded myself with a close network of friends who took the programme with me, many of whom I still keep in touch with to this day.

Why did you decide to study the University of London LLB?

Elycia:

The main reason I chose to study the University of London’s LLB was due to the fact that the University is offered as an online programme, thereby allowing me to pursue this degree from the comfort of my own home in Malaysia.  

I had always known that the LLB course offered by the University of London was a particularly difficult one, due to the emphasis on examinations rather than on coursework, but in my opinion, I believed that this added to the prestige of obtaining an LLB from this institution. The format of the examination definitely improved my ability to think and articulate clearly in pressuring conditions, and this is a skill which I think would benefit me in the long run. 

Daniel:

During the early years of higher education, I had not been particular motivated to pursue my studies overseas (although this changed in later years). University of London's LLB programme offered the perfect blend of obtaining a UK law degree from the comfort of my home in Penang, which was exactly what I wanted.