Gavin Chan

Country: Malaysia
Sector: Law
Year of graduation: 2022
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

City University of London

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I am currently doing my BAR Vocational Studies at City University of London. This course enables me to become a practising barrister in both the United Kingdom and Malaysia.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I chose to have a career in law and as a barrister in general because being a barrister provides me with a platform and opportunity to provide specialist knowledge that can assist a client in obtaining their desired result, and therefore make a real difference to their lives. Furthermore, I love learning about the law, and how its legal applications can be applied in today’s society. My experiences as a mini-pupil and my BAR course studies have given me insight into the working culture of a barrister, and I am drawn to the advocacy and advice obligations of the legal profession. These experiences strive me to seek for a career that will challenge my mind and allow me to apply my technical knowledge and collaborative work style to better the lives of both clients and co-workers.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

During my time at the University of Exeter, I joined several societies and took on several roles. From March 2021 to March 2022, I was appointed as the Publicity Director of Exeter Malaysian Society, where I was in charge of managing social media posts regarding the management and social well-being of Exeter Malaysian Society. I also promoted ‘cultural awareness’ amongst students in Exeter with regards to Malaysia and helped liaise with other Malaysian student organisations across the United Kingdom. During the summer of 2021, I joined the ‘Access to Justice Clinic’, where under the supervision of my lecturers and local barristers, I provided pro-bono legal advice and support for the local community across a range of issues including housing, probate and contracts. On June 2021, I applied to be a student mentor through the university’s ‘Global Chums Mentor’ programme, where I assisted new students in their transition and assimilation into university life in Exeter. From October 2021 to November 2021, I also joined the Environmental Law Clinic as a Student Volunteer. During my tenure here, me and my team compiled the ‘Climate Change Emergency Declaration Research’, which was a report regarding the emissions of Carbon Dioxide across the South West region of the United Kingdom. Finally, I became a Module Representative for my Law, Politics and Power Module. My role here was to act as a point of contact for students to raise any feedback and issues regarding the module.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

Arguably, the biggest highlight of my degree was that after three years of studying law, I discovered my passion for pursuing a career in the legal spectrum. Prior to my degree, I have always taken a keen interest in subjects that would drive my passion towards law, such as History and Global Perspectives. I enjoyed reading and these subjects helped shape my legal thinking, hence leading to my decision to study Law. I carried these aspects with me throughout my LLB Law degree, where I immersed myself with the subject, learning interesting modules such as Company and Criminal Law as well as Law and Politics. Moreover, I took part in different pro-bono work last summer, such as Access to Justice and Environmental Law Clinics, which carried out pro-bono work to members of the public under the supervision of local barristers and solicitors. In the Environmental Law Clinic, me any my team compiled our research titled ‘Climate Change Emergency Declaration Research’, which was a report regarding the emissions of Carbon Dioxide from the South West region of the United Kingdom. This research made me realise the importance of our environment and how this distinct area of law would help shape our future. Remarkably, the research has also demonstrated working in a team in producing high-quality work. In addition, I have also carried out different legal research under the Access to Justice Clinic which has inspired me to pursue a profession advocating for people’s rights and providing benefit to the community that might otherwise not be available. Perhaps one of the happiest moments of my life came when I graduated from the University of Exeter. During my three years at Exeter, I learned to balance work, exams, and coursework deadlines by creating a strict timetable for myself, with my own study plan. Eventually, I was able to demonstrate my analysis and argumentative skills efficiently, thus achieving a 2:1 degree at the end, with two first class scores from my Company Law and Law, Politics and Power modules respectively.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

My personal university experience is spectacular and there are many reasons for this. First and foremost, The University of Exeter is the place where I fulfilled my dream of studying in the United Kingdom and I have created so much memories here. During my first year, I met many good and wonderful friends and joined the Malaysian society. I stayed in Clydesdale Rise, so just above the cardiac hill, and the scenery throughout this area was beautiful. Sadly, due to the pandemic, my academic year for my second year was conducted fully online, however, that did not stop me from receiving the full support from my lecturers, peers and fellow mentors and I am grateful for that as this made me feel like I was still in the University despite not being physically there. Throughout my second year, I was able to join societies virtually online and after my studies, I took part in pro-bono work with the University’s Access to Justice and Environmental Law Clinic’s. Hence, this made me feel like I was part of the University again and I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate years here. I returned to campus for my final year, and I was able to experience campus life again after the pandemic. Although we were going through a transitional period after the pandemic, this was made easier through the University’s strong support system which made transitioning back into normal life easier.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

First and foremost, I chose to study at Exeter because it is a fantastic university with a reputation for providing high quality and immersive education for its students. I therefore strived for an environment with a strong education and support system that would have ultimately helped me achieve my goals. Moreover, being part of the prestigious ‘Russell Group’ category in the United Kingdom also played a major role in my decision. Furthermore, the university was and is still, consistently ranked within the top 20 universities in the United Kingdom for Law. The university has been ranked as high as 12 as of 2023 at the ‘Complete University Guide’. All in all, I chose Exeter because I wanted to experience a campus lifestyle which placed a high emphasis on sports as well as education. I enjoy playing sports, especially football, and Exeter seemed like the perfect university I could go to play sports at a regular level. The university boasts a beautiful Sports Park at the Streatham Campus, of which was a major influence in my decision to join Exeter as I wanted to go to a university where I could play sports and achieve a sense of work life balance.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in LLB Law from the University of Exeter, I decided to place my time and passion into pursuing a career in law by continuing my BAR studies in the United Kingdom at City University of London. My passion for legal scholarship was bolstered and formulated during my undergraduate studies at Exeter, in particular, I found subjects such as Company Law, Law Politics and Power and Criminal Law as main motivations for deciding to study the BAR course. My legal studies at Exeter helped shaped my perception of the legal profession and motivated me to pursue a career in law. I took my foundational understanding and knowledge of my undergraduate studies and applied them to my internships and mini-pupillages that I had throughout my time in the United Kingdom and Malaysia. For instance, I am able to apply my knowledge of ‘Employment law’ to resolve or dismiss any unfair dismissal claims throughout my internship experience. Therefore, my studies here at Exeter have helped me in my career and my current BAR course studies.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

My advice is to work hard and never give up. Obviously do not overwork yourself and arguably, in my opinion, the most important thing as a student is to find that work-life balance between your studies and your social life. By finding that balance, you would be able to achieve things that you would never have imagined possible. A career in law, and as a barrister in general, is not an easy one without the work and effort put in, but by putting in that extra effort for yourself, you would strive to achieve better things not only for yourself, but for the ones around you that you care about. Therefore, my advice to any student right now, is to find that balance. Being a student in your undergraduate years is a fundamental moment in your growth as a person, and these are the years that you should cherish from today onwards as you would look back upon them in fond memories.

What are your plans for the future?

As of now, I plan to pursue a career in the legal profession either in the United Kingdom or alternatively, in Malaysia. Although I am currently studying to become a barrister, I have kept my options open when deciding on my future career. For instance, as a barrister, I look forward to the possibility of attending court and representing clients. In particular, I enjoy the advocacy side of it and handling client conferences and making submissions to the judge. However, I also enjoy the flexible environment of which a career as a solicitor offers. As a person who enjoys team building and working with other people, I would also strive to seek an environment which helps foster teamwork.


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