AT TAYLOR'S: Heama Latha (HeamaLatha.NarayananNair@taylors.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: The Malaysian Bar Council (council@malaysianbar.org.my)
Launched in March 2011, the Legal Aid Centre (LAC) is a community service project by Taylor’s Law School. It is the brainchild of the then Dean, Dr Rajeswari Kanniah, conceived with the purpose of exposing law students to real life situations in preparation for the trials and challenges of their own future practice. The LAC also aims at contributing to society by providing legal advice, particularly to those in need and those who are marginalized by society. Every Wednesday from 2-4pm, three to four law students together with the Head of LAC & Senior Lecturer, Ms. Heama Latha, and Associate Dean of Enterprise & Industry and Senior Lecturer Mr. Harcharan Singh deal with the clients who walk in to the Centre.

One of those volunteering his time and expertise is law student Joash Nicholas Ong, who notes, “As the Vice President of the Bar Council once said, as a lawyer it is our responsibility to be the voice for the voiceless. As a law student and a future practitioner, I think community and legal aid are two elements that go very well together.” With the support of Bar Council Malaysia’s Legal Aid Centre, Taylor’s LAC has assisted with over 100 cases related to tenancy and landlord matters, family law and employment since it opened three years ago.
Two years after the launch of LAC, the school launched the Street Law Project. Unlike the LAC where clients come to the centre seeking advice, the Street Law Project goes out into the community with the aim of providing basic legal education and advice to members of the community. Student volunteers have the opportunities to experience first-hand real life issues and attempt to apply their school-based knowledge to solve those issues. In addition to providing a practical opportunity to put their education to use, the Street Law Project instils empathy and compassion for the plight of the underprivileged. However, these real world lessons are not for the students alone.  As Law lecturer Suzanna Abdul Hadi points out, “Street law has taught me the value of human relationships. I can now understand how it feels to have nothing and yet be forced to give up everything. The Street Law Project reminds me to be responsible and unselfish, and this in turn informs my lectures to my students.”

These programs offer unrivalled opportunities to gain insights into the legal profession while helping the community. In addition, taking part in these projects is a way to show future employers the participants’ commitment to the legal profession and develops an important component of their résumés when applying for jobs. Mr Harmahinder Singh, Dean of Taylor’s Law School explains, “At Taylor’s Law School, we do our best not only to provide quality legal education, but to give our students opportunities that build character. Time and time again, our industry partners have commented that law graduates these days lack strength of character to face the challenges of the legal fraternity. Our program addresses that concern in a practical way.”

The Taylor’s Legal Aid Centre operate on the campus of Taylor’s University from 2.00 – 4.00pm every Wednesday. Members of the public may walk-in to request consultation, or contact them at 03-5629 5519. More information on the LAC or the Street Law program, can be obtained by sending  an email to legalaidcentre@taylors.edu.my You may also contact Ms. Heama Latha, the head of the Legal Aid Centre and Street Law project at HeamaLatha.NarayananNair@taylors.edu.my  or Mr Harcharan Singh at HarcharanSingh.UjagarSingh@taylors.edu.my

Written by Suzanna Abdul Hadi