About this segment: Alumnus of the Month is an initiative by the University of Malaya Law Review which aims to feature a prominent alumnus of the University of Malaya’s Law Faculty. The purpose of this segment is two-fold. First, to give due recognition to the contributions of our alumni and second, so that their remarkable achievements might inspire other members of the faculty towards greater successes.
Vivien Yeow, an alumnus of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
Vivien Yeow Shyn Wern, known to many as Vivien, is an alumnus of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya (UM). Highly recognised as one of the Faculty’s finest mooters and a high-achieving student, Vivien impressively scored the Dean’s list award every semester throughout law school and graduated with First Class Honours in Bachelor of Laws (Hons.) in 2015. Vivien is now a practising lawyer in Rahmat Lim & Partners’ Financial Services Department.
Growing up in Petaling Jaya, Vivien pursued numerous interests, including taekwondo, debates and cheerleading throughout her colourful years in primary and secondary school. She stood at a crossroad deciding her path after completing her pre-university studies. Initially, she was offered a coveted place to study medicine in the University of Science, Malaysia or Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). After a long deliberation, she turned down the opportunity and gambled for a spot in the Faculty of Law, UM, much to the dismay of a few. Her courage paid off as she was offered to read law in the Faculty.
Vivien, delivering a speech as the Director of LawNite in 2013.
Vivien was actively involved in various student-run activities and societies, most notably having helmed LawNite as the Director in 2013. She was also a prominent participant of a student exchange programme in collaboration with Kyushu University, Japan for three consecutive years. Apart from being a diligent member of various clubs and activities in the Faculty, her participation in moot competitions throughout her four academic years stamped a notable mark in the records of the Faculty.
Vivien (second from right) with the delegates of the student exchange programme to Kyushu University, Japan in 2013.
In her early days of law school, Vivien did not have any plans to moot. However, she bumped into a senior and, along with her batchmate, was encouraged to join the 2012 Internal Moot Competition during her first year. She made it to the finals of the competition, where her team raked the Best Team Award and where she was crowned the Third Best Oralist. The early exposure to the benefits of mooting has prompted her to further participate in moot competitions during her first year. The opportunity came in the form of the 2012 UM-NUS Friendly Moot Competition. Although she did not bag any awards during this competition, her status as a rising moot star within the Faculty was established.
Vivien subsequently participated in the National Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2013 in her second year and came off at the third place. She admitted her discontentment, ‘coming in third during the 2013 Malaysian National Rounds of the Jessup competition was pretty crushing, after all the months of sweat and tears (and some blood!). I felt like I personally could have done better during the preparation stage as well as during the competition itself, which was why I signed up again in 2014.’
This sparked the sequence of successes for the next two years in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. In 2014, Vivien served as team captain representing the University, and was instrumental in the team’s journey to become the Champion of the National Rounds of the competition. The UM team went on to represent Malaysia at the International Rounds in Washington DC, United States of America and was amongst the Top 32 teams out of almost 200 participating teams.
Vivien (first from left) during the Jessup International Rounds 2014.
As impressive as it was winning the National Rounds and doing well during the international rounds in Washington DC, Vivien remarked, ‘I still felt that there were certain areas that could be improved further, especially in terms of the written memorials’ and decided to sign up for another year. The choice was a difficult one as she was immensely drained from the 2014 competition. Nonetheless, she was grateful to have friends who pushed her to give the competition another go.
Vivien (second from the left) during the Awards Ceremony for the Jessup National Rounds 2015.
Once more as team captain, history repeated itself as the UM team retained their title as National Champion in 2015, bringing home the Best Memorial Award this time around. Making a comeback in the International Rounds at Washington DC, the team fared miles beyond the success of 2014. Not only they were in the Top 32 Advanced Rounds again, her team was awarded the Alona E. Evans Award as the Fourth Best Combined Memorial and also the Runners-up Award for the Best Respondent Memorial. It was countless sleepless nights, skipped meals, and stress-induced acne, but she has zero regrets joining the competition for the third time.
Vivien (third from left) during the Awards Ceremony in the 2015 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington DC, United States of America.
At the end of the extraordinary four years in UM, Vivien graduated in 2015 not only with First Class Honours in Bachelor of Laws (Hons.), but also with no regrets. The University, acknowledging her outstanding contributions, presented her with a myriad of awards, including the Anugerah Cemerlang Pingat Emas Tun Fatimah Bt Hj. Hashim 2014/2015 (Best Female Undergraduate of the University); the Pingat Emas Puan Sri Haseenah Abdoolcader 2014/2015 (Best Undergraduate of the Law Faculty with a First Class Degree); the Anugerah Siswi Cemerlang Persatuan Siswazah Wanita Malaysia 2014/2015 (Best Female Undergraduate of the Law Faculty); the Hadiah Yayasan Tun Azmi 2014/2015 (Best Undergraduate of the Law Faculty); the Hadiah Buku Shook Lin & Bok 2013/2014 (Best Student in Banking and Negotiable Instruments); the Hadiah Peringatan Ng Ek Teong 2013/2014 (Best Student in Commercial Transactions I); and the Hadiah Buku Universiti. Topping off her incredible journey in the Faculty, she then went on to commence her pupillage in Messrs Rahmat Lim & Partners as a pupil in the Financial Services Department in August 2015.
Vivien (top row, second from right) with her friends during her graduation in 2016.
Vivien believes firmly that had it not been for the tenacious support and encouragement from her parents, lecturers, the administrative staff of the Faculty and friends, she would not have been able to accomplish what she had; for there were moments when a single smile, a helping hand, or a surprising chocolate bar were all it took for her to digest ‘this important obiter by Lord Denning’. With all the running around she had to do, it was impossible for her to keep up with all the lectures and tutorials without her peers, whom she recalled as those ‘who generously shared their notes with me whenever I could not attend class, and discussed tutorial questions with me 5 minutes before classes.’
Vivien (second from left) during her admission to the Bar.
As far as mooting lessons are concerned, Vivien appreciates that she learnt to work exponentially better in a team, and that trust amongst teammates is of paramount importance. ‘When it is 4 a.m. with an impending deadline, I think it’s important for team members to be able to depend on one another to push through those last couple of hours together.’ To current and future mooters, our alumnus of the month advises: ‘Don’t be afraid to fail and to make mistakes – just be sure to reflect and understand why you messed up in the first place, and then actively work towards addressing the issue and doing better next time!’