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 successes.
Yeap Yee Lin, a final year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya
Yeap Yee Lin, or better known as Yee Lin, is currently enrolled as a final year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya (“UM”). Born and raised in Penang as the eldest of the family, she boasts extensive knowledge in the digital world. Much like her favourite cartoon character, Doraemon, Yee Lin is regarded as a good-natured and selfless soul. In the same vein, she aspires to be resourceful and always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Like most law students, Yee Lin’s venture into the legal fraternity was unplanned. She had never envisioned herself in law school since her initial interests were more inclined towards history and anthropology. However, after an internship at Lim Huck Aik & Co., she had her first taste of legal research and fell in love with the multidisciplinary realm of law.
Four years down the road, Yee Lin has been handsomely rewarded for her enthusiasm and persistence in seeking legal knowledge. She won many academic accolades including the Dean’s List Awards and the Shook Lin & Bok Book Prize for the best student in “Banking and Negotiable Instrument” course for the 2018/2019 academic year. On top of that, she is currently a scholar under the Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (“PIDM”) Scholarship.
Yee Lin never had an idle moment at the faculty. Throughout her 4 years in law school, she held various positions across different student organisations. She served as the Treasurer and Academic Bureau’s Supervisor of the UM Law Society 2018/2019, Head of Academic & Activities Bureau of the Asian Law Students’ Association (“ALSA UM”) 2017/2018, and as a committee member of the UM Consti Team 2017/2018. Her passion in student organisations was brought a step further when she founded her own society, JusTech, and served as its director from 2018 to 2020.
Yee Lin with UM Law Society committee members 2018/2019
Besides, Yee Lin’s interest in guiding juniors prompted her to assume the position of Secretary in the Lex Ordinem Orientation Program 2018/2019. Here, she also acted as the Supervisor for the Academic Bureau. She was mainly responsible for the Research and Microsoft Word workshop. This was when her computer expertise came in handy. To those who are inexperienced, especially the juniors, the thought of crafting the perfect legal document is daunting to say the least, due to the complexities and rich features of Microsoft Word. However, Yee Lin patiently and skilfully crafted a detailed handbook that covered every nook and cranny of the program — from creating table of contents to online collaborations. Similarly, for the research workshop, the academic bureau was responsible for guiding the freshmen in conducting legal research. She made sure that the freshmen were informed of the commonly utilised websites and databases in addition to its basic functions like the Boolean operator. When asked about what piqued her interest in technology, Yee Lin credited her uncle who is also her Godfather. It was him who first introduced her to the many wonders of the computer and from there she learnt the intricacies of technology.
Yee Lin with the UM Lex Ordinem High Committee 2018/2019
Behind the impressive façade of her prominent positions in numerous student bodies, Yee Lin’s route to stardom was not an easy one to say the least. During her first year, all her applications to multiple student bodies were rejected. She felt dejected and demotivated due to her inability to gain a position and even questioned her competency. Nevertheless, she made it clear that the adversities she faced drove her to do better. She never gave up, even when the going gets tough. She emphasised,
“It is not the fault of the interviewers or the societies for rejecting us. Sometimes, maybe we did not perform well during the session, but that does not mean that we should give up. Just be yourself, and if it is really something that you want to be a part of, then what you can do is to reflect back on your performance, try to identify what you could have done better, and improve yourself.”
Yee Lin with UM Legal Aid Clinic Student Advisors and Supervisors 2018/2019
In addition, Yee Lin’s involvement as the Student Advisor in the UM Legal Aid Clinic (“KBGUM”) gave her the opportunity to engage in pro bono work and solve real-life legal problems. Overall, she found the experience of working with actual clients incredibly satisfying. Not only did it provide her with a hands-on approach to solve legal questions, it also afforded her the opportunity to be more aware of the impact of law on people’s lives. Further, it taught her the importance of empathy and the ripple effects of one single act of kindness. For her, it touched her as a person. She fondly recalled,
“I remember when I first went to the UM Law admissions interview, I kept on saying that I want to help people in their fight for justice, to give back to society. This was where I got to do all of that.”
She remains hopeful that the faculty will place emphasis on client consultation, as it will greatly help students to understand the actual process of dealing with clients — from the interview session, the research, and finally, the advisory session. Besides, it is a good learning opportunity for the students as they will learn from experienced lawyers who will often volunteer as supervisors.
Yee Lin with her coaches and teammates during Cyber Law Moot Competition 2017
Adding to her academic excellence and involvement in student bodies, Yee Lin partook in numerous mooting competitions. In fact, her interest in mooting was sparked even before the Faculty Orientation week. She recalled innocently signing up for Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition the moment she received her matriculation number, not knowing that it was one of the largest moot competitions in the world. Never one for public speaking, she felt mooting would be a great way to sharpen her communication skills.
Her stepping stone into mooting was the 2017 Cyber Law Moot Competition during her first year, where the UM team was crowned as the Champion. Yee Lin and her team also received the Best Memorial Award and the Best Oralist awards for both Preliminary and Final Round. When asked about her experience as the youngest member in the team, Yee Lin described it as nothing short of amazing. She was thankful to be selected as the experience helped her view things in a different perspective. She recollected,
“At that point, I felt lost. I was only in my first year, I was still awkward, but I was very fortunate to have met Jing Rou and Ashley. They were the ones who guided me. They are amongst the people that I look up to. Jing Rou is someone with a big heart, and Ashley, even though she looks strict, is actually very warm.”
Subsequently, Yee Lin went on to become a researcher for the International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot Competition (“IMLAM”) in 2018. In the same year, she also triumphed at the UM-NUS Moot Competition and emerged as Champion.
Yee Lin delivering her speech at the National Colloquium on Access to Justice 2020
Yee Lin delivering her speech at the National Colloquium on Access to Justice 2020
Yee Lin was also actively involved in various conferences, within and outside of the faculty. Recently, she was given the honour to join the panel on Technological Advancement for Affordable and Easy Access to Justice at the National Colloquium on Access to Justice 2020 in Kuching, Sarawak. This enabled her to share about the role of students in this area. Apart from that, she was also the Director of the ALSA UM Symposium 2018, “Dawn of Industry 4.0: Changes in the Legal Landscape”, as well as the ALSA UM International Students’ Conference, “Child Protection: Safeguard of the Nation’s Future Pillars”. She also collaborated with law students across Malaysia and successfully organised the ALSA Malaysia National Conference 2018, “Working towards Sustainable Development: Overlooked Communities”, during which she was the Director of Academic and Activities. Additionally, Yee Lin was also part of the curation team for TEDxUniversityofMalaya: Perspectives and the Blockchain Report Launch and Forum 2017/2018.
Having been responsible for numerous programs, Yee Lin counted her blessings as she had a strong support system — her friends as well as her lecturers, Ms. Husna and Mr. Manley, whom she still considers as her mentors. She stated that the success of all the events she was involved in was conditional to the collective effort of everyone in the team and, in return, she knew that she owed it to everyone else to give her level best. Yee Lin jokingly added that her secret to juggle her studies and extracurricular involvements was to forgo sleeping. However, she noted that although she may not have been apt in managing her time, she tried her best to be consistent in her studies and prepared well for tutorials. Furthermore, she was grateful to have friends to fall back on in times of need.
“When I am busy, my friends will always check up on me to make sure that things are under control. I am so thankful because they always have faith in me, even at times when I do not believe in myself.”
As for her future plans, Yee Lin aims to venture into technology, media, and telecommunications practice. When asked if she has any regrets about her time at the faculty, Yee Lin recalled a very enlightening conversation with her senior, which freed her from any resentment.
“There was a moment in which I was torn apart by the end of my second year, not being able to decide whether I should take up the post as a treasurer for UM Law Society, since I was thinking of doing other things like setting up JusTech. My senior, Jing Rou, told me this — ‘I do not regret all the things that I did in law school, I only regret the things that I never did.’ That was when I realised that for better or for worse, what is done is done. Even if I failed, even if other people could have done a better job than I did, it all contributed to my growth — I would never want to substitute that with something else. All that is what makes me the person that I am today.”
Finally, when asked to pass on a message to her juniors, Yee Lin advised,
“Studying is important, but you must remember that this is the last 4 years of your life in which you are allowed to try and do everything in a ‘protected environment’. When you go on to work, you will be held responsible for even the slightest mistakes. So do not listen to whatever negative thing people have to say about you and do not hold yourself back from trying something new. If you are going to fail, then this is the right time to fail. Take the risk or else you will regret it. Keep an open mind and heart, there is a lot that you can learn from the people around you.”
Written by Azureen Ibrahim.