Call Speech for Sophia Hoo

May it please your Lordship,

The Petitioner is the daughter of Mr Simon Hoo, a remisier, and Madam Ruth Ng, a Home Minister. She has an elder sister, Anne Hoo, who is a pharmacist in the United Kingdom and a younger brother, John Hoo.

The Petitioner was an accomplished student. She got the kind of grades I would read about in a University newsletter. In the first and second years of her Bachelor of Laws at Brickfields Asia College, she had a GPA of 3.75/4.0. She graduated from the University of Liverpool with a First Class in May 2016.

When asked why she chose study law she said ‘I was better at it than English Literature. Reading was always familiar to me, and both Law and Eng Lit had that requirement in common. But when it came to grades, it was easy to see how more suited my brain was to legal reasoning.’ This is an example of the Petitioner’s excellent sense of self-awareness. In my conversation with her and in her written responses, she showed a high degree of self-reflection, sensitivity and consideration for others.

My Lord, perhaps she did so well in her studies because she has a pedigree of teaching others. In July and August 2013, she was a supplementary teacher to indigenous children in Long Lamai, Sarawak. Long Lamai is a Penan village in upper Baram, Northern Sarawak. It is 8 hours in by road and an hour of hiking through dense forests.

The Petitioner said she went in on a 2-hour boat ride on the river, and that was her first time in Sarawak, never mind the interior of a rainforest. What impressed me about her stint there was not so much the teaching or even her resolve to go there, but that she went 1 month without wifi/internet connection there. She said she found that experience to be a ‘cleansing’ one.

The Petitioner has also been a teacher for children’s church activities since 2016 in Liverpool, England and continues in Malaysia. She teaches mostly 4 to 8-year-olds, helping them to learn better and get along with each other. The Petitioner says teaching children is a break from adults and our complexities. Little does she know, My Lord, she is still likely to find children in legal practice, prowling our courts too.

My Lord, I submit there are 3 reasons why the Petitioner is a fit and proper person to be called to the Bar.

Firstly, she likes solving problems and answering riddles. This is a good attitude to have at the Bar. If there is something we do not lack at the Bar is problems and riddles that need to be solved. Do we really need an Order 14A if we have an Order 33 r 2 provision? Why is the award of costs so low? What is the real test for a leave application in the Federal Court? These and many more will in time confront and confound the Petitioner.

Secondly, she has an intuitiveness about the practice of law. This was evident from her recommendation letter from the University of Liverpool’s Liverpool Law Clinic. The Petitioner did the Clinic Legal Skills module, where she was introduced to professional conduct, legal research, client interviewing and legal writing, and then made to apply those skills to a real case with a student partner.

Ms Johanna Bezzano writes glowingly of the Petitioner. I will quote 3 passages, which give a clearer sense of the Petitioner’s performance:

‘Sophia’s performance on the case was outstanding in several ways. She was quick to identify the issues involved and to research them so she had a good understanding of the broad issues before the client interview. After meeting the client, Sophia and her partner then did further focused research including obtaining further information….

‘The independence with which Sophia and her partner approached the case was striking. They kept me informed about what was going on in their case and discussed their progress with me. But, they needed relatively little support and were able to find out most of what they needed to know unaided. They worked particularly independently after the client interview during the period when they drafted their advice letter.’

‘I have no hesitation in recommending Sophia. She is highly motivated, hardworking and an intelligent student. I found her a pleasure to work with on the CLS module and am sure she will do well in further studies and make an excellent lawyer.’

We can tell that Ms Johanna was very pleased since she would have little to supervise where the Petitioner was concerned. I hasten to add that I agree unreservedly with Ms Johanna. Her Master, Mr Wong Guo Bin, confirms her diligence, her excellent contribution and above all, her effervescence.

She has also worked with the other partners of the firm, Mr Tharminder Singh and Encik Izral himself. All three are lawyers of great skill, experience and integrity. The Petitioner can only grow to greater heights in their company and tutelage. They have retained the Petitioner, and that to me is no better proof of her quality. They are a firm with high standards, and I fear even the likes of me may have an application rejected. So I would like to congratulate the Petitioner for being retained.

Thirdly, and lastly, the Petitioner’s orientation to law is in the right direction. When I asked her what she felt was a lawyer’s role in society, she wrote as follows: ‘To resist and push back enough that systemic corruption is cut to its knees. I think it starts with good lawyers … drawing a line in the proverbial sand to say that there are certain things you do not do. Staying faithful to the law and the facts should really be the emphasis of our ethics talks. Because that is essentially our duty to society – to advocate as best as we can with what is there, and to resist the temptation to fabricate or mislead or give into subsisting corruption.’

I agree completely with her view.

My Lord, the Petitioner would like to thank her parents and siblings for their love, care and unstinting support. She thanks the partners of Izral Partnership and her colleagues, the staff and fellow pupils who have made her pupillage a memorable experience, even if the experience itself went pretty fast.

My Lord, I submit that the Petitioner is a fit and proper person to be made an advocate and solicitor. I believe her cause papers are in order and my learned friends have no objection to them.

I pray that the Petitioner be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.

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