Working in Malaysia and the U.S.

Being Qualified in the U.S. is a Path Worth Taking

[ By Tiffany Khoo, LLB — Guest Blogger and London School of Economics Graduate ]

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Tiffany Khoo, LLB

In 2016, I was working as Associate Legal Counsel for the Central Bank of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur when I decided it was time to gain a broader understanding of how the law operates in modern cities. The United States, and more specifically New York City was on my radar as one of the most fast-paced and dynamic economies in the world. I knew that being equipped with international qualifications, such as admission to the New York State Bar, would demonstrate transferability in my career. I could greatly expand my legal horizons, if I so desired, through dual qualification.

Although the U.S. route to dual qualification is less popular in the Malaysian jurisdiction, being U.S.-qualified in a globalised world is a smart pathway. Alongside London, New York is an incredibly cosmopolitan city where it’s quite likely that arbitration work could involve some international dealings. Plus, instead of having to attend physical classes I could qualify by simply passing the relevant exams, granting me the flexibility to meet the responsibilities of my full-time job.

I first heard of BARBRI while attending the London School of Economics, where there was much talk of others who had dual qualifications. Because I would be working alongside my studies, I felt that preparing for the NY bar exam on my own would require so much discipline. As such, guidance just seemed like the best plan for an exam that would be in a foreign jurisdiction.

Bar Prep Guidance Made Easy.

I decided to enroll in the BARBRI International Bar Preparation programme. It was a rather simple decision. With its reputation as the premier bar prep provider, BARBRI just made sense because I knew I needed to pass the exam on the first try. I had accumulated annual leave in order to fly to New York in 2017 to take the exam, and then again for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) the following year. I needed to minimize the disruption from my full-time job and the costs of traveling back and forth to the U.S.

BARBRI’s 10-month home study option allowed me to study part-time with the aid of online help, question banks, and even personalised essay feedback. The way the course materials and personalised timetable were presented was straightforward and, therefore, easy to follow. I received my materials through the mail with an assurance that, if I followed the timetable set for me by BARBRI, I would cover the material in the most efficient manner. This ultimately proved to be true.

The course was easy to access online, both through webpages and my mobile devices. This made it convenient for me to squeeze in study time when commuting to and from work. In this sense, it wasn’t difficult to integrate my life with bar prep.

The BARBRI International website is incredibly helpful.

I was able to send in a query about eligibility and be put in touch with a BARBRI representative. International students were also added into a group chat so we could share information, discuss questions, and encourage each other. I found that I could ask anything, and all of my concerns were taken seriously. Even now, this group chat remains a strong network, and we share updates on our careers and lives with each other.

When I later required additional BARBRI materials for the MPRE, I was relieved to find they were provided for free. I could again enjoy the ease with which the materials were delivered and made accessible. There was a video, reading resources, and even test questions. The BARBRI methodology completely changed the way I see exams and revisions.

As for the actual bar exam, although I can safely say it was one of the most challenging exams I have ever experienced, I felt adequately prepared. Thankfully, I scored 329—well above the necessary passing score of 266.

My law degree and additional qualification have been instrumental in enabling me to secure my current role, that of Manager of Strategy and Governance for a medical centre in Kuala Lumpur. The hospital with which I work frequently sees patients from multiple countries across the globe. I have to occasionally deal with immigration issues resulting from long hospital stays, or cross-border issues in relation to third-party administrators operating from overseas. My cross-border legal knowledge has equipped me in the negotiation and review of these arrangements, as well as in the planning of international strategies for advertising and licensing. I thank BARBRI for much of my international career success.

Looking Ahead to the QLTS.

Although I am not currently working in the legal field, I plan to re-enter the profession by cross-qualifying with the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) exam in 2020. In one fell swoop, I can be qualified to practice in both England and Malaysia. Whatever the future may hold, with the New York bar qualification in hand, I can more assuredly say that I understand how the law works around the world.