Happy Birthday FCL&Co!

Within a blink of an eye, my law firm is now one year old. The journey had been great and I have no horror stories to share unlike some of my friends. It’s worrying to hear stories of lawyers who struggled for months before they could get their first pay cheque.

My office in 2012. It still looks the same.

I am glad to report that our firm was profitable last year. I think we own it to the way we operate. We ran a very lean operation.

Instead of paying for renovation, rental and rental deposit, we operated from home. We did not have a physical office but a virtual office to take our mails and calls which costs us about RM1000 a year. Also they will log all our incoming mails and calls thus eliminating administrative tasks. We also do not need to hire a secretary or staff to sit in the office to take calls or mails.

We also did not invest in a library because we have been specialising in our field for years. We have the basic case laws and legal precedents. I utilised my Dropbox as my legal library. I’ll scan whatever hardcopy precedents and cases and store them in my DropBox and arrange them based on subject matters. Each file has keywords to remind me of what the case is about.

We operated a paperless office. With a paperless office, there was no need to purchase folders, paper, stationeries and even shelves. We eliminated many administrative work such as printing and filing the documents into their respective files.

We did not invest in many software. We use Gmail as our email client. I did also use Mozilla Thunderbird as my email client but only to backup my emails.Someone asked me whether it would be secure to have my mails hosted by Google. To me, Google has unlimited resources to secure and protect their network,  what can a small law firm like us do to protect ours?

I didn’t even purchase Microsoft Office (until recently) as I find that Microsoft Starter (pre installed word processing software provided by my Samsung Ultrabook). I explored numerous software to see whether it suits our practice. Cheng Soon of HackersMonthly recommended that I try Zapier, a website that synchronises web Apps. I managed to synchronise deadlines posted on a Google Doc spreadsheet with my Google Calender. It saves me the trouble of keying in data twice.

Instead of subscribing to the legal information providers, I built a search engine called FCL&Co Unreported Case Laws search and a Statute Search using Google Search engine to plow through the Court’s and Attorney General’s Chambers’ websites to find unreported cases and statues.

I also subscribe to free legal updates by legal information providers and if I get anything relevant, I’ll look for the source on the FCL&Co Unreported Case Laws search to find it or call a friend for a copy. I also started an eGroup of Intellectual Property law practitioners to share information. With that, I was able to access many IP judgements of many IP practitioners.

My motto was, “If I can find an alternative for it,  I won’t spend money on it”.

As my partner and I work separate offices, we used Google Docs to collaborate documents such as Masterlists. It is good because I can access the files through my laptop, PC and mobile devices.

The abovementioned things we did saved us few important things. We saved real estate space and time. Without the physical things lying in the office, we have plenty of space. Commuting to the office is a thing of the past. Administrative time and costs were eliminated thus leaving us with spare time to do marketing. Writing articles (and publishing it on my blawg) is one of my favourite marketing methods. It gave me publicity and raises my portfolio. I was able to secure a number of multinational, public listed and large corporation as our clients.

On another note, I co-founded a start-up called “DocuDeer“, a sample legal agreement and documents providers. It is still in beta stage and we are still adding more documents. We started this venture as we found that Malaysia lacked sample legal agreement and documents. Most of the stuff we find are from overseas and thus not useful or not applicable to Malaysian lawyers and businesses. Please tell your friends.

That is all I have to report for now. I wonder how it would be like when I write the 2nd FCL&Co anniversary blogpost.

To many more years of FCL&Co!

Beijing, China 2013 – Overview

To celebrate our one year wedding anniversary, my wife and I made a trip to Beijing on 19 January. It is my first time to China.

Before I go into detail on our trip, I thought of sharing some information and tips on getting into China. A visa to enter China is required for Malaysians. One can apply at the Chinese Embassy at OSK Building. You can complete the visa application form online or get the form from the office. I would recommend that you complete the form online and book an appointment with them to submit your form. If you don’t, you would need to line up at the office. The queue is quite long. An appointment takes less than 5 minutes. The visa application is quite fast, just submit your form, supporting documents (ie itinerary, air ticket and accommodation) and your passport. You can choose your processing time. I choose the regular time which is 3 days.

Alternatively, you can get a runner to do for you. Our travel agent said it costs RM60 per person.

We used the services of a tour agent. It was about RM4000 for both of us for 6 days (flight not included). The tour includes the usual tourist areas such as Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. There are of course cheaper packages out there but you’ll probably be brought to some low end restaurants, stay in cheaper hotels or have more market visits.

We wanted to skip the compulsory market visits (tour includes bringing you to shop at certain places ie tourist traps). But to do that, we need to top up around RM500. We decided not to pay such exorbitant amount.

We were fortunate that the staff at the shops that we went were not pushy or aggressive. I was told that some of these shopkeepers will force you to buy something from them. Some even to the extend of blocking the exit!

Yes, the air was this bad!

Our tour was a private and English speaking tour. It was just us and our guide, Jack and our driver (can’t remember his name). Jack is a nice and accommodating Beijinger. Although it’s supposed to be an English speaking tour, Jack did most of it in Chinese – Beijinger Mandarin to be exact. I couldn’t understand most of it due to his strong Chinese accent. He couldn’t understand our Malaysian accent as well. Reminds me when I met my Finnish friend in Finland. We couldn’t understand each others’ English when we met at his house. We had to go online at his house so that we can speak on the net.

Beijing was cold. We came at a time where pollution was at its height. I couldn’t make out whether the sky is misty or covered with smog. We couldn’t see the sun most of the time. We came at a time where Beijing’s air pollution was at its height.

It snowed on the second day. Although the road was covered with snow, it wasn’t as thick as Oulu’s snow.

We stayed at Crowne Plaza, Wang Fu Jing. It’s a nice hotel located a few minutes from the shopping centres of Wang Fu Jing. Their service is good and there’s WiFi at the lobby. WiFi is accessible from our room but we need to pay for it. However, there were a few days where we could access it for free.

Wang Fu Jing is a well known shopping district of Beijing. It’s filled with massive shopping centres. Many of them reminded us of One Utama and Mid Valley. Big Western brands are here and prices are almost the same with Kuala Lumpur. Even food prices are about the same.

Wang Fu Jing at night

St. Joseph’s Church, Wang Fu Jing


On our first day, we ventured into a restaurant called Tianjin GoBelieve Steamed Stuffed Bun (yes, Go Believe!).

It serves dumpling and porridge. Their steamed pork dumpling was okay – the meat was a bit mushy. Can’t tell whether it’s cooked or not. Porridge on the other hand was bland and watery. It comes in two colours namely yellow and brown. It didn’t taste good to me but the locals seem to love it.

We also roamed around Wangfujing Snack Street to check out their common and exotic street food. They served things like starfish, scorpions and snails.

Snails. Mum once told me that she had to stop a bunch of Chinese students from eating some snails they found at the drain. Now I know why they caught the snails cause these snails look like those we have at home!

Seremban crab stick – I don’t think we have this in Seremban!

The best place we tried so far was a place called Grandma’s Kitchen. It’s located in a shopping centre. The queue to get a place is incredible. It was extremely long. We took a number and we were told that we will be called in 1 1/2 hours time!

Whenever someone’s turn is called, the shop will announce, “Mama chiao ni che farn leee (Mama is asking you to come and eat!).

Food was pretty good. Our tea cooked chicken and organic cabbage were great.

On our last day, we wanted to try Grandma’s Kitchen for lunch. Unfortunately, it was packed with people again. We went to another place nearby called Xiang Yuan Spicy Food.

Again I managed to meet up with some Chinese lawyers. This time round was Gloria and David of a reputable intellectual property firm in Beijing. I met Gloria when I attended the INTA conference in Berlin. They brought us to a nice fine dining Chinese restaurant in Wang Fu Jing.

Overall, the trip was great. I wasn’t expecting much of China but it was an eye opener. I would certainly go back to China again to check out other parts of China!

Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee 2013/2014

As some of you may know, I was appointed as the co-Chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Information Technology Committee last year. It’s a sub committee of the Kuala Lumpur Bar and our role mainly involves technology matters from organising events to maintaining the KL Bar website.

I was appointed as the co-Chairman because only a committee member of the KL Bar can head a sub committee. Zizao was my co-Chairman as he is an elected committee member of the KL Bar.

However, this year, Zizao has to sit on another committee thus leaving the sub committee without a committee member. The new Kuala Lumpur Chairman Dipen asked me to stand for election at the Kuala Lumpur Annual General Meeting (AGM) so that I can be elected as a committee member. I was hesitant initially as running for positions isn’t my cup of tea. The last election that I stood for was when I was in primary school. We had to vote for a class monitor and I didn’t get voted (obviously).

When Dipen told me that there won’t be more than 10 people running (there are only 10 spots in the committee) and I do not need to give any speech asking people to vote for me, I agreed to run.

But on the day of the AGM, Dipen told me that there will be more than 10 people running. I told Dipen that I’ll withdraw and let the others run.

I told a few friends that I “may” be running but subsequently told them I’ve withdrawn. Further, I could hardly see anyone I know in the hall. I probably know about 20 people out of the 200 over members. I thought I was doomed to fail because I did not do any campaigning nor ask for support.

Richard Wee was my proposer and Zizao was my seconder. As soon as I decide to withdraw, I messaged Richard on WhatApps informing him that he doesn’t need to nominate me.

But when the nomination opened, Richard raised his hand and nominated me! He didn’t see my WhatApp message!

It would be disastrous to go up on stage to tell everyone I’m withdrawing hence I started preparing my speech in my mind.

When it came to my turn to speak, I announced that I am the KL Bar Information Technology co-Chairman and what I’ve done last year i.e. the revival of the KL Bar blog and our involvement in the Internet Blackout Day.

An hour later, they announced the winners. I got the 6th highest vote and I’m in the committee. I thought I wasn’t going to make it!

Subsequent to the election, I was appointed as the Chairman of the Information Technology & Publications Committee.

I must thank those who voted for me. I will do my best to serve the KL Bar and its members.