Planning to do your LL.M? My personal advice.

First of all, congratulations! For having that thought to continue your studies. Not many can continue after their Degree so you are different from the rest. That means you are an ambitious person and by doing this means you are following the Sunnah of our Prophet, to learn and gain more knowledge.

1. I just want to share with you few tips before you want to embark on your new journey. Continuing your study is probably the best gift you can give to yourself. Masters is actually more relaxing than doing your Degree. You will realize that from the first day you register for it. People look up at you because you are now doing your postgraduate studies. That means you already have your Degree. You will not be bothered with extra curricular activities, third language or whatever outdoor activities. They are for Undergraduate students, and you are a postgraduate. So you will have more time for yourself, to study...ehemmmm.

2. If possible, please maintain 3 point and above upon graduation of your Degree. Most of the universities only take applicants with 3 point and above and will impose additional requirements if your Degree is not 3 pointer. You must really be careful with your pointer during your Degree. It will haunt you for the rest of your life. They will still ask you whether you get 3 point and above when you apply to continue your Master or PhD studies. This is also the requirement if you are planning to be a lecturer in the university. Regardless of the highest qualification that you already have ie PhD, they will still ask about your pointer for your Degree. If you did not get 3 point, then that is the end of the interview. Recently, I was surprised that the universities even require this for part time teaching. One of the universities that I was teaching part time asked me what was the pointer for my Degree and said they will not take me if I did not get 3 point. Luckily I did! Even if it is just slightly above 3 point hahaha.

3. You see, you need to spend a minimum of three years to complete your Degree. But you only need one year (if you are doing it full time) or two years maximum (if you are doing if part time) to complete your Master. Unless you have some extraneous matters to deal with, like me hehehe.

4. There are just so many subjects to cover for your Degree. More than 20 perhaps? However, to get your LL.M you only need to take 8 subjects. Most of the universities now make it compusory for you to take Research Method subject. Note - If you may, please take this subject during your first semester because it can help you with your legal research and writing.

5. When I started my PhD, I was introduced to the technique of writing used by Dr Othman Talib (Dr OT). He is a genius in research and writing. Seriously! Even though his area of interests are mostly Pure Science related but there are some techniques that we can still apply for law. Law is in the category of Social Science. To kick start your journey in doing your LL.M, maybe you can read few tips from him. He has his own blog. Read here.

If you can spend time reading blog about gossips, then it is more worth while if you read his blog. You can pick up a few things from his blog. His famous quote is "Doing research is already difficult, so why must you make it even harder?"

6. I would recommend you to attend his seminar. He will teach you how to do your research by using Mendeley and how to link this Mendeley to Word. Mendeley is an application for you to find research articles, save them and cite it later in your research. This is where you can find his seminars date. And choose the one that suits your time. Ignore the price, the knowledge that you will gain in his seminar is priceless! I went three times to his seminars, first time in Penang, second time in Sungai Petani and the last one in Bangi. Sorry, slow learner here :P You can click this link and go to the Upcoming Events section.

7. By the way, it is advisable to use a Window laptop rather than Macbook for your research. Dr OT will explain to you about this in his seminar. I brought my Macbook to his seminar and I was always left behind because there are so many things that I could not find on my Macbook. I had to google it first. For example, while he was talking about setting the paragraphs in Word, I will use my handphone to google "How to find paragraphs in Word Macbook'. And this really drove Mr H crazy hahaha. I would disturb him from time to time asking for this and that, and Dr OT will now move to a new topic and we are both left behind, hahaha. Seriously, please get yourself a Window laptop. It can be an excuse to buy a new laptop, hahaha.
8. I would recommend you to buy the HP brand. Always buy with full specs and not the mini with limited specs. You see, even if you do not install games in your laptop, but we need a good and stable internet connection to do our research. Sometimes your laptop is lagging not because of the internet connection, but because of the laptop itself. The memory is already full. I know it is very handy and portable. But if you need something that you can carry around, get yourself an Ipad or a tablet. For your research stick to the old fashion laptop. Been there, done that. Sold off my mini laptop as well because apparently it can't cope with me savings thousands of research articles in it. 

9. If you plan to attend the seminar conducted by Dr OT, please download the Mendeley application. You can do this by just going to the website. Create a free account.

It is very easy with Mendeley. To organize all your files in one place only. And then straight away cite it and turn it into your bibliographies. This is where we went crazy during our Undergraduates right? I wish somebody had taught me this then, I would have gotten Dean's List every semester, hahaha.

10. Discard all your pen drives or CDs (if you are still using them). They are not reliable anymore in this millenium world. Easily affected by all sorts of viruses. You can now save all your documents in Dropbox which you can also download for free. By using Dropbox, you are saving your files in the cloud and you can always retrieve it back whenever you want to use it. For example, you can download it to your laptop, it will save all your files in your laptop. Let's say you want to do your work in the library, you do not have to bring your laptop along. Most of the libraries provide PC so you can sit at one and go to Dropbox website. Login and retrieve the file that you want. Start doing your work there and then, without your laptop and also without your pendrives. You can be anywhere in the world as long as there is internet connection. DO NOT save your files to your laptop without backup. If you lost your laptop or it is stolen, how do you retrieve your files? Better be safe than sorry.
Note: Mendeley works this way too. You can retrieve the articles you had saved in Mendeley without bringing your laptop along.

11. This is only my personal view, you may want to do it differently. It is your journey not mine, so please feel free to do as you wish. I just want to advise you, for LL.M do not opt for the research based. It is advisable for you to opt for coursework based. For coursework you will have 8 subjects to complete. Assignments, exams, presentations, all that you are familiar with while doing your Degree. If you opt for research based, you have to start doing research with a supervisor. There is human factor involved. For coursework, as long as you pass the subjects you can complete your LL.M. However, for research, everything is very much tied down to your supervisor. That is why I said there is human factor involved. Lots of things can happen. Let's say your supervisor move to a new university? Then, you have to find a new supervisor and this takes time. You can complete your LL.M by coursework method in just 1 or 1 and the half years but you might need more than 2 years to complete your LL.M by research. As PhD students, we don't have that option. PhD is 100% research but for LL.M you have an option. So choose wisely.

Note: This is only an advise, my personal view. You can choose whatever ways you want. As long as you complete your LL.M :)

12. From the start, I had told you that doing LL.M is far more easier that LL.B. The scope of the subjects are narrowed down. And we don't have to learn more than 8 subjects, if you are doing the coursework method. And if you are using the Mendeley and Dropbox to assist you, you will realize that you can complete your task even before the lecturer start giving you assignments to start with, hahaha.

13. Perseverance is the key to success. You will find yourself overwhelmed at times. Sometimes do not know where to start after getting an assignment to complete. Don't worry. It happens to all of us. Just take a deep breath and assure yourself that you can do it. If Colonel Sanders pulled out after he was criticized by his own people, we won't be having KFC now, right? This is your journey, do not let the others pull you down.

14. Postgraduate studies will definitely bring you closer to God. At times, you will feel so vulnerable but you do not know where to turn too. You will always have Allah. Turn to him and ask him to ease everything for you. Ask, and I shall give!

15. So, I hope that my writing here did not scare you off, hahaha. I really hope that this can help and motivates you to do your LL.M. I am writing this as an academician and also as a student.

Good luck!

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