About this segment: Person of the Month is an initiative by the University of Malaya Law Review which aims to feature a prominent member of the University of Malaya’s Law Faculty towards the end of each month. The purpose of this segment is twofold. Firstly, to give due recognition to the contributions of our student leaders and secondly, so that their achievements might inspire other members of the Faculty towards greater success.
Lily Sabreena binti Mastura, a final year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
Lily Sabreena binti Mastura, fondly known as Lily, is a final year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya (UM). Her grit and graceful personality shines through, making her one of the more eminent personalities in the Faculty. In her 4 years of law school, Lily participated in various international moot competitions, notably the Tun Suffian International Human Rights Moot Competition, the International Maritime Law Moot Competition (IMLAM), the LAWASIA International Moot Competition and the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition. In all the competitions she participated, Lily and her team has made remarkable achievements which put the Faculty on the map as a formidable moot powerhouse in the international landscape.
Born in Kota Bharu, Kelantan and bred in Puchong, Selangor, Lily was raised in a family of lawyers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that she decided to walk down the same path. According to Lily, she idolised her mother, uncle and aunt, who all had their careers set as lawyers and carried the persona that inspired young Lily to dive into the legal field. She accentuated how her mother, an alumnus of the Faculty, acts as her main driving force. Lily recalls how she used to follow her mother to work when she was much younger and today, her mother is her number one supporter, along with her father, Captain Mastura Ariffin whom she proudly acclaims to be the one who has always wholeheartedly believed in her and taught her everything she needed to know to be the person she is today.
Lily (right), with her mother, Puan Habita binti Tahir, during the Finals of LAWASIA Moot Court Competition (National Round) 2018.
Lily’s mooting journey started in her first year with her participation in the 2015 Internal Moot Competition (IMC). As a beginner, she recalled how tough it was for her and her first mooting partner, Hanan Khaleeda to participate in the competition. To make it even more challenging, the moot problem highlighted intricate areas of Intellectual Property Law, one with which a First Year would not be too familiar. However, the duo powered through and their hard work paid off when they bagged the Best Memorial Award.
In 2016, the duo decided to join IMC again, but they ended their journey as semi-finalists. Lily remembered how she was ready to give up mooting at that point of time, thinking it was not for her. Her reason was common, she was concerned about having to juggle her academics and mooting. However, Mr Raphael Kok, the Faculty’s moot coach managed to reignite the spark. She then decided to take a leap of faith by auditioning for the Tun Suffian International Human Rights Moot Court Competition 2017. Lily and her team emerged as First Runner-Up of the Competition. As a personal achievement, Lily was awarded 3rd Best Oralist of the competition.
Lily (centre) with her teammates during the Tun Suffian International Human Rights Moot Court Competition 2017 held at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
With what was an amazing kick start to her mooting career, Lily kept up with the pace and decided to try out for IMLAM in 2018. Taking the wheel as the captain, Lily and her team made astounding achievements in Brisbane, Australia when they became semi-finalists of the competition. Despite the exhaustion of having two back-to-back moot competitions, Lily never took a break. In the midst of preparing for IMLAM, Lily managed to devote ample amount of time to participate in IMC which was also the selection platform for LAWASIA.
Lily (second from left) with her coaches and teammates during IMLAM 2018 which was held in Brisbane, Australia.
The UM team’s participation in the 2018 LAWASIA International Moot Competition was indeed historic. It was the Faculty’s first participation after a long hiatus and, a competition Lily holds close to her heart as she and her team was declared the National and the International Champion for the 2018 edition, defeating the National University of Singapore by 5-0 during the final round of the competition held in Siem Reap, Cambodia. To put the cherry on top, Lily was awarded First Runner Up for Best Mooter, proving her charm and eloquence to be one of her greatest strengths.
Lily (second from left) with her teammates and her coach at the LAWASIA International Moot Competition 2019 held in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
After the successful campaign in the LAWASIA moot competition, there was nothing that could hold her back from participating in the most prestigious moot competition in the world, the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition. The 2019 edition witnessed Lily and her team’s incredible feat when they were crowned National Champion and the recipient of the Alona E. Evans Best Memorial Award. Winning the national round gave Lily and her team tickets to represent Malaysia in Washington D.C. of the United States of America for the International Rounds. They made the country proud when they emerged as the Octo-finalists of the Competition and ranked Top 12 in the preliminary round. Lily also received her own significant accolade when she was named as the 20th Best Oralist in the competition.
In Lily’s words, she shared how surreal it was when her name was announced as the Top 20 Best Oralist. ‘Jessup is known as the Olympics for mooting, where you go against champions from every single country—not just any participant.’ which is why for Lily, it was a huge deal that she was given the honour to receive the award out of 600 participants worldwide.
Lily, receiving the Top 20 Best Oralist award in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2019 held in Washington DC, United States of America. Image by Jessup ILSA.
Even with an impressive list of personal achievements, Lily accredits them all to her teammates for always lending a helping hand and her coach for always believing in her. She expressed how thankful she is to the Dean, Dato Associate Prof Dr Johan Shamsuddin bin Haji Sabaruddin for his overwhelming support and encouragement towards her mooting journey. She even sweetly drew attention to how Jessup was profoundly significant for her, because it was her last mooting ride with her best friend, Amiratu Al-Amirat.
Lily strongly believes that all her success is a result of Mr Raphael’s coaching. ‘For me, the best way to win, is to listen to your coach. Basically, I followed everything my coach said without questioning, and that led to the best results. To all budding mooters, I seriously cannot emphasize how important it is to listen to Raphael.’
When asked about the life lessons she gained from mooting which she takes pride in, she said she learnt ‘…how to manage stress, how to juggle studies and mooting, how to talk to people, the art of persuasion, legal citation, legal research, how to handle admin work-- by preparing moot budgets’ and proceeded to say that she cannot possibly list everything down and how invaluable her mooting experience is to her.
Lily (third from left) with her teammates and her coach during the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2019 in Washington DC of the United States of America.
Before joining mooting, Lily was involved in a few student bodies such as ALSA in 2016, LawNite in 2017 and University of Malaya Law Review in 2017, as she believed that such involvements were important to enhance her confidence and her leadership skills. When asked which experience stood out the most to her, she expressed how her experience as the LawNite Marketing Director was indelible. ‘We had to collect approximately RM30,000 in cash, and goodies so we spent hours and hours calling law firms, getting scolded, rejected. But we made it eventually because of my amazing team.’ That was when Lily realised the importance of teamwork and how it aided her in her team ethics for moot competitions.
Even though it seems like Lily has a lot on her plate, she had no regrets at all and said that ‘Surprisingly, after I joined mooting, my academic results started to improve drastically, where I even got 3.81 for one semester despite juggling my internship at Petronas while doing LAWASIA at the same time.’
The wonder woman still managed to maintain her academic results although she was busy mooting, dissipating her initial doubts on her ability to juggle her commitments. When asked how she does it, she accredited it to mooting. ‘Mooting teaches you to comprehend, understand and read faster. You also train your brain to be more critical and straight to the point.’
Known to be a carefree soul, Lily stresses on the importance of not stressing out. She tries to stay optimistic and she highlights the importance of having a strong support system. For her, it was her family, her friends and Mr Raphael. She also expressed how having hobbies definitely helped her in staying happy and healthy. ‘If I am not mooting and studying, I would be café hopping and I would go shopping. I am also obsessed with boba, go check my Instagram for my boba diary!’
When asked about future plans, she says she owes her dreams to the powerful female figures to whom she looks up, Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar and Raja Teh Maimunah. She looks forward to building a name in the Islamic banking and finance field, to climb the corporate ladder and fulfill her dreams of being a CEO of a renowned company. Currently, Lily is under the wing of Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Aziz, Group CEO of CIMB Group for the Corporate Fellowship Programme, a programme initiated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports that aims to cultivate leadership skills in potential youths through firsthand exposure of working with Cabinet ministers and corporate figures. Lily looks forward to what the future holds for her.
Lily, as one of the participants of the Corporate Fellowship Programme 2019.
Lily strongly believes in putting a 100% in everything she does, to remain humble at all times and to always be hungry for knowledge. As for her advice for budding mooters, she emphasises, ‘Be humble. Always make sure you listen to your coach, absorb what he says. Make constant improvements, do double roles, read full cases and always, always, always make sure to be confident and positive!’ As for other students out there, Lily has only one advice, to never stress on trivial matters and to always stay positive.
Written by Iffah Afrina Binti Salleh.