Since 2005, BABSEACLE has and continues to provided technical and advisory support to the CLE programs in Malaysia with the University Malaya’s CLE & Community Outreach Program (COP) and Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Student Community Law Club (SCLC). Presently, BABSEACLE is working with it’s partners to identify strategic next steps in the development of this CLE movement within Malaysia, as well as its connection to institutions regionally throughout Southeast Asia and how the CLE movement intends to broaden its reach both within Malaysia and internationally.

The CLE programs in Malaysia at both the University Malaya (UM) and UiTM, focus on community teaching programs and in regard to UM, their program is focused on the further development of a prisoner legal counseling and applied legal research and community legal needs mapping programs.

Malaysia and the Expansion of CLE in Southeast Asia

BABSEACLE began CLE exploratory visits to Malaysia beginning in 2005. Various contacts with Malaysian universities, the Bar Council, ministry officials, NGO personnel and other key policy decision makers and implementers were achieved. These initial activities resulted in a number of successes early on, with a fervent and current contemporary expansion. Firstly, in 2006 BABSEACLE helped to organize and facilitate the following three events:

  1. The First Malaysian CLE Training of Trainers Workshop held at the University Teknologi Mara (UiTM)
  2. The First Malaysian Bar Council CLE Supervisor Training Workshop
  3. The First Malaysian CLE Conference held at International Islamic University

Following these key instrumental events, in 2006 the University Technology Mara[i]15 appointed BABSEACLE Director Bruce A. Lasky to the position of Adjunct Professor to assist in the development of a non-simulated CLE program. This resulted in the formal registration of the currently operating Student Community Law Club (SCLC). The setting up of such a club in the University helps to realize one of the missions of the university in regard to community service programs. The members of SCLC, comprised of students from the Faculty of Law, ranges from the first through fifth semester students. These students join the SCLC on a voluntary basis as one of their students’ activities of the Faculty. The objectives of SCLC are to provide legal knowledge and awareness to the communities. In adopting these methodologies the SCLC works with communities who often have a minimal knowledge of the law. These sessions therefore greatly benefit them.

In 2007, with the assistance of BABSEACLE, members of both UiTM and the University of Malaya were taken on a study visit of CLE programs in the Philippines. As a result of this visit, and with positive partnership with BABSEACLE, the University of Malaya began to develop what has now become a leading CLE program in Malaysia.

For more information please download The Development and Expansion of University-based Community/Clinical Legal Education Programs in Malaysia: Means, Methods, StrategiesBruce Lasky* and Norbani Mohamed Nazeri§

* Founder and Director of the Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE).

§ Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.

[i] Prior to this time, the UiTM Faculty of Law operated, and continues to operate, a simulated CLE program which is introduced in the final year for students of the LL.B (Hons) Program. It is a simulation program in which students are required to work in a mock legal firm or clinic, where they are taught the necessary lawyering skills.