20 Mar 2017
Medicine and law have always held his interest and combining these two interests into a career would be the best choice. This is exactly what Dr Chan Chee Ching, a holder of double master’s degrees, did. He is currently pursuing his third master’s degree – Master of Laws at City, University of London.
He started his medical studies at IMU and transferred to University of Edinburgh for completion of his degree – a MBChB from the University of Edinburgh in 2006. He was an Ear, Nose and Throat Academic Clinical Fellow under the Yorkshire and Humber Deanery, England from 2010 to 2012.
He subsequently went to Cardiff University, Wales to pursue a 3-year law degree as he has a strong interest in medical law. Upon successfully completing his LLB, he undertook the Barrister Professional Training Course in 2015 to become a Barrister-at-law. He was called to the Bar and was admitted into The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in 2016.
|Currently, he is back in Malaysia and undergoing his pupillage with Raja, Darryl and Loh Advocates and Solicitors. Chambering is analogous to housemanship in medical training. Chambering is a 9-month legal training under a senior advocate and solicitor of more than 7-year standing. After completing his pupillage (a.k.a. chambering), he will be called to the High Court of Malaya as a full-fledged advocate and solicitor at Peninsular Malaysia.|
RDL is the fourth/fifth largest law firm in Malaysia in terms of size but it is the largest firm in Malaysia specialising in medical law/negligence. This is the reason that he chose to chamber in RDL so that he can be exposed to medicolegal cases in Federal Court, the highest court in Malaysia.
His Master is Puan Maidzuira Mohammed, a partner in RDL who mainly practises in the field of medical negligence defending doctors. Although his main interest is in medical law, he is also exposed to other areas of law such as Corporate Law, Banking Law and Intellectual Property etc.
Lawyers practising in the area of medical law/negligence are litigators, i.e. they are advocates that appear in front of Judges in the court, as compared to solicitors who predominantly manage documents. The job description of a medicolegal lawyer includes meeting with doctors, meeting with expert witnesses, preparing witness statements, preparing written submissions, speaking to Judges and putting questions to witnesses.
During his pupillage training (he is expected to complete in May 2017), he has the opportunities to attend Preliminary Investigation Committees (PIC) inquiries, Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) inquiries and High Court hearings/trials. Due to the fact that he is a doctor by profession, it is his nature to prefer to be a lawyer defending the doctors rather than suing the doctors.
Why did you decide to come back to Malaysia to do your pupilage?
I feel disappointed with the severe brain drain problem that is occurring in Malaysia. Based on my own experience, out of 20 of my doctor friends who graduated from University of Edinburgh, 4 stayed in UK and 16 of them went to Singapore to practise. None came back to Malaysia to practise as a doctor.
|I decided to come back to Malaysia despite all the deterring factors. Firstly, I want to do my part to contribute back to society of Malaysia, either as a doctor or as a lawyer. Secondly, if there are opportunities in the future, I would like to be involved in improving the Malaysian health policies. Thirdly, due to the ease of obtaining information now via the internet, patients’ are generally more aware of their rights and medical negligence claims are on the rise. I hope to play a role in this area of expertise by providing accurate information and advice. Lastly, my parents are in Malaysia and I want to be my family’s side.|
Share with us the challenges that you had when you decided to study for a law degree
There are challenges to study law after medicine. For me it is not so much of the tuition fees (because I worked for 6 years for the tuition fees) or the long studying time (I don’t mind studying), the hardest part was actually making the decision and going through the transition period. I had to adapt to the student life again without earnings. I am starting from the bottom of the ladder again. It was not actually too difficult to study again as when I was working as a doctor, I took postgraduate examinations almost annually over the six years period working as a doctor.
When I was studying law degree at Cardiff University, most of the students were at least 10 years younger than me. I am by nature quite outgoing and friendly, it wasn’t so much of a challenge for me communicating with younger people. On a side note, my mum always teases me of “letting go of my surgical scalpel to pick up the lawyer’s pen”. For me, I have never given up my passion as a doctor.
After I complete my pupillage in Peninsular Malaysia and get called to the High Court of Malaya, my plan is to return to Sabah and complete another 6 months of pupillage to get called to the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak. I am taking the advantage that only Sabahans can practise as a lawyer in Sabah.
I have strong interest in Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, in particularly otology. It is my intention to set up ENT clinic in Tawau, where I was born, to help the local patients bearing in mind that there is currently no permanent ENT specialists available in Tawau. However, the plan to set up ENT clinic is subject to my workload as a lawyer. Ideally, I would like to form partnership with other lawyers to set up a legal firm, this will allow me more time to practise as a doctor to help the local community.
|How do you find time for the other passions of your life?|
|This is a challenge. I believe in work-life balance. I have a strict timetable and I stick to it. I wake up early to start my day as my mind is fresher. Despite my busy schedule, I will keep my weekends free to do the things that I like or meet my friends. I like outdoor activities. I have jumped out from a plane at 15,000 feet in 2012 and ran a full marathon in Edinburgh.
I am also a PADI-licensed scuba diver and skydived at Hull, England in 2012. I won gold medal for squash and gold medal for Chinese Chess when I participated in IMU Cup in 2000.
Part Two of Dr Chan’s journey