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  • Writer's pictureArjun Gananathan

Eason Rajah, The Impostor?

Eason Rajah was only eleven years old when he left Malaysia to attend Epsom College, a boarding school in England. His sisters had done the same, albeit at older respective ages, and had found the transition academically and personally taxing. The only son of a local litigator and a retired schoolteacher, Rajah characterizes his life in Ipoh as idyllic. British boarding school, on the other hand, had its many challenges: bullying, culture shock, homesickness. Rajah nevertheless describes the experience as a positive one. The detachment from home was incentive to better value the little time he did spend with his family. It was also at Epsom that Rajah developed much of his gritty and resilient character.

Convinced that his contemporaries were more intelligent and knowledgeable, Ipoh-born English barrister Eason Rajah QC resolved to work harder.

Despite excelling in the sciences at Epsom College, Rajah chose to study law at the University of Nottingham. After graduation, Rajah completed the bar course and twelve months of pupillage (six in criminal, then six in chancery) in the UK, before briefly returning to Malaysia, where he qualified as an advocate and solicitor. He soon after chose to permanently return to England, however, committed to his relationship with his future-wife, and attracted by the idea of pursuing barrister-only work.

In the early nineties, Rajah found a place in chambers, after being called to the Chancery Bar only a few months earlier. His chief inspiration during his early years in practice was a renowned QC by the name of Leolin Price. Price, Rajah describes, had litigated and won cases before the House of Lords in virtually every area of law. More importantly, Price was a humble, supportive, and compassionate mentor.

In 2011, Rajah himself was appointed QC. He jokes ­– half-serious – that he had never quite felt ‘at home’ in the Chancery Bar until making silk. For the first twenty years of practice, he had felt like an impostor, flying under the radar, finding work that he didn’t deserve. Convinced that his contemporaries were more intelligent and knowledgeable, Rajah resolved to work harder. The rigor of the Queen’s Counsel application changed that perception, however. After 70 pages of intense self-reflection and self-analysis, Rajah was left entirely deconstructed, and felt certain that he would be rejected. His acceptance letter, however unexpected, was irrefutable confirmation that he was no masquerader. Judges, solicitors, and fellow barristers had vouched for his skill and competence as one of England’s best barristers.

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