Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee 2015/2016

In 2013, I had to stand for election to get into the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee. It was my first time trying and I had go against 13 candidates. I managed to squeeze into the 10-men general committee.

Last year, I got into the committee against but there was no vote as we had exactly 10 people running for general committee.

However, this year, we had 3 people running for chairman and 11 people running for general committee! It triggered an election. The 3, Amir, Peter and Ravin, who ran for chair were also former committee members.

Each of them were given chance to speak. Amir came out with a powerpoint slide and even sang for the crowd! Peter on the other hand gave a powerful speech on how he would improve the KL Bar and how he would go on the ground to solve problems. Ravin presented his visions and plans for the KL Bar for each committee.

There was also some heavy lobbying going around to garner votes. It was the first time I see campaign being run on WhatsApp and Facebook. I was a little bit worried that I won’t get in as I didn’t do any lobbying or even announcing my candidacy on Facebook. But I knew that what matters was my 1 1/2 minute speech to the crowd. If I’m convincing enough, they may vote for me.

Many of us prepared written speeches. I did mine too. I spoke about how I will revamp the website, introduce new member management system, online payment and digitalizing KL Bar records. But as soon as I spoke, I started to hear chatters and I realise many are not listening.

Fortunately, I got voted in with the 4th highest votes (a spot which I also share with Dee Wei). Ravin was voted chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Bar taking over Dipendra who retired after 2 terms. It’s a tradition that every Kuala Lumpur Bar chairman will retire after two terms. Out of the 10 new committee members, 7 were from the previous term.

Most people left after the cast their votes (its a secret ballot). From the 200-300 over people, only 20 were left in the hall. The last item of the agenda allows any members to raise any matters and SI Rajah, a senior lawyer (called to the Bar in 1968), addressed the crowd with some of his ideas. Two of his ideas caught my attention. One being an establishment of an archive for the Bar consisting of historical information, documents and materials He had this idea after he tried to borrow a wig from the Bar Council and he couldn’t get one because the Bar Council does not keep such wigs. Interestingly, wigs were never compulsory in Malaysia. I approached SI Rajah after his speech and I said I was very interested in his archive idea. Hopefully we can work something out.

The other idea he had was an establishment of an “incubation center” by the Bar Council for young lawyers or lawyers who want to start up their own firm. He said that one of the foreign bars had this incubation center to help lawyers with their first few stages to allow them to kick start their law firm. But this idea may be difficult as the Bar Council is running out of space.

Anyway, glad to be re-elected again. Hopefully my plans can be completely rolled out by this year!

Walk for Justice and Peace – 16.10.2014

It’s a much smaller crowd than the one had for Walk for Justice in Putrajaya few years back. But it’s to see lawyers show up in force.

President of the Malaysian Bar, Christopher Leong, addressing the crowd before marching to Parliament.

I brought along my sister in law, CA, to attend the walk. She passed her CLP exams and was looking for a place to do her pupillage at that time. I thought it would be interesting for her to attend one of these rallies.

Thinking that the place will be packed, we parked at Dayabumi and walked to Padang Merbok under the hot sun at 1030am. I think the distance from Dayabumi to Padang Merbok was longer than Dayabumi to Parliament.

Lawyers were asked to wear a jacket to the walk but I gave it up as soon as I stepped out from the car. It was a wise decision. Even without a jacket, I had a waterfall of sweat coming from my head.

The event was also great to meet up with old friends. We also got to see some Members of Parliament from the Federal Opposition side like Sivarasa, Gobind, Wong Chen, etc.

Ravin Singh addressing the crowd.

Even an Orang Asli group came

Solidarity for Azmi Sharom – a law lecturer who was charged for sedition recently over a legal opinion

At about 1130am, we marched towards the Parliament. It was a rather uneventful one and chants and shouts were pretty mild.

One thing we did cause was a traffic jam. Cars couldn’t come to the road in front of Parliament.

Upon reaching Parliament, some members entered it to present a memorandum asking the Sedition Act 1948 to be repealed and all sedition charges be withdrawn. The memorandum was received by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Datuk Mah Siew Keong aka Handsome Mah.

CA and I didn’t wait long and left early for lunch. The walk back to the car was torturous. But we were fortunate that it did not rain.

YB RSN Rayer of Penang. He was charged with sedition because he uttered the words, “UMNO celaka” in the State Assembly. His prosecution was a surprise to me as words uttered in State Assemblies are protected by privilege.

There were loads of banners and cards. This one is the winner.

My only complaint about this walk is that there had been too many walk. The last walk was in 2011 when the Bar organised a walk to protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill. Before that, it was 2007 when the Bar organised “Walk for Justice” to urge the Government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe the state of judiciary and to establish a judicial appointments and promotion commission. I think “walks” should be used sparingly and we should adopt other means of protest. It “walks” becomes a norm for us, the public won’t take it seriously anymore.

Nevertheless, I think there is a slight impact from this walk. I don’t recall anyone being charged for sedition after the walk but there was reports of people being investigated for it.

Bar Activities 2014

Once again, I was elected as a committee member of the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee for the year 2014 / 2015. This year’s Kuala Lumpur Bar Annual General Meeting went on smoothly and we achieved the highest quorum in the history of the Kuala Lumpur Bar. Fellow committee member, Jerry and I, gave a talk on data protection – a hot topic this year – during the AGM. This probably explains why we had the highest quorum in history this year!

Unlike last year, there was no voting as there were no extra candidates running for committee. I am chairing the Kuala Lumpur Information Technology and Publications Committee again this year.

I was also appointed as a co-chairperson of the Malaysian Bar Ad Hoc Committee on Personal Data Protection. Suaran Singh and Steven Thiru are my other co-chairpersons. I had asked for this committee to be formed when I was in the Bar Council Intellectual Property Committee. There was only a few of us in this Intellectual Property Committee that knows data protection laws well hence there was a need for a new committee to manage this new law.

I contacted quite a number of lawyers to join the committee and all of them were interested. For the first time, we had a group of Malaysian data protection lawyers sitting together to discuss on the data protection practice for lawyers. I am glad that many of them are very active. There are some committees that have many members but only a few would contribute their time. Sometimes I wonder why those people who do not contribute would want to join a committee if they are not contributing.

It’s been a busy first quarter for me. Bar work takes up quite a bit of my time but I enjoy it. I get to meet many lawyers and many opportunities arise from there. I guess some recognition by other fellow members is priceless.

Notwithstanding my active participation in the Bar, the Bar Council recently announced a ban on the use of virtual offices by lawyers. Circular No 049/2014 stated:-

Circular No 049/2014
Dated 7 Mar 2014

To Members of the Malaysian Bar

Law Firms Operating Through Virtual Offices

It has come to the Bar Council’s attention that several lawyers are operating their law practices through virtual offices.

The concept of a virtual office essentially means there is no physical presence of a law office. The office is “virtual” as it is merely a front, consisting of generic office facilities operated by another company offering the services of a receptionist and/or interchangeable meetings rooms, used by various parties (whether lawyers or not) paying for such services. Any telephone calls made to a lawyer utilising this arrangement are received by the receptionist, on the lawyer’s behalf, who would then convey the communication to the lawyer concerned, for example in a text message through a short message service (“SMS”). Documents are also received, on behalf of the lawyer, by the receptionist. The services of the receptionist and/or use of meeting rooms at a virtual office are shared by other lawyers and/or companies and/or businesses.

The Bar Council is of the view that lawyers practising through virtual offices are in breach of Ruling 7.03 of the Rules and Rulings of the Bar Council Malaysia, which provides as follows:

Where an Advocate and Solicitor shares an office or premises with another person (whether an Advocate and Solicitor or not), the office or premises must be partitioned off with separate and distinct entrances, with no connecting door between the two offices or premises. This Ruling shall not apply to Advocates and Solicitors who are partners of the same law firm.

Where a law firm operates through a virtual office, a further cause for concern arises in respect of confidentiality and the safekeeping of information, including files and documents, which appear to be lax in such virtual offices.

Members are therefore advised to cease such operations with immediate effect, as the Bar Council may take disciplinary action against lawyers who are reported to be operating through virtual offices

It caused dissatisfaction to some lawyers and myself. Instead of sulking, I decided to gather a few lawyers to work on this ban. I was planning to send a memorandum setting out the pros of a virtual office and criticize such ban. However, after meeting up with some of the group members, we decided to send a request for dialogue instead.

One point I learn from this episode is that no authority likes to be challenged. It is best to engage them directly regardless how wrong you think is the decision.

I am pleased that the Bar Council has contacted us to initiate a dialogue. Hope it goes well!

Seminar @ Kota Kinabalu, 2013

In June 2013, The Malaysian Bar and Sabah Law Association jointly organised a seminar in Kota Kinabalu and I was invited as a speaker to speak on data protection laws. We had about 50 people.

Sabah Law Association had kindly booked a room for me at Horizon Hotel. It costs RM300 a night. My room was nice and spacious.

View from the hotel

I discovered that it is extremely difficult to grab a taxi in Kota Kinabalu suburbs. Suaran (another lawyer and invited speaker) and I took taxi to Damai to eat at the legendary Fook Yuen at Damai. Our 5 minutes cab ride costs us RM20! Although the ted madras and roti kahwin were worth it, we were stranded in Damai after our delicious meal at Fook Yuen. We couldn’t get a taxi for half an hour.

Fortunately, we managed to flag down one Mr Usman to fetch us back to the hotel at a very reasonable rate.

Suaran and I also wandered around the city and went on an eating rampage. Although I’ve been to Kota Kinabalu many times, I’ve never had the opportunity to see the Filipino market and its surroundings.

I was in Kota Kinabalu for a short time but I managed to squeeze an hour with my in-laws after dinner. They brought me to the legendary and awesome Fook Yuen (again!).

The seminar was fun. It was well organised and the turn out was good. As a token of appreciation, the Sabah Bar presented me with a book consisting of a compilation of cases decided in the Native Court of Appeal, a special Court that deals with Sabah natives’ customary issues. The cases revealed disputes regarding wrongful trespass by animals, destruction of bamboo trees, theft of animals, damages for embarrassing someone, right to harvest bird nests, inheritance of customary lands and also marriage issues. Many of these cases involved the payment of damages by way of sogit – usually a cow or other animals. Failure to pay sogit can put the wrongdoer in jail! Sabah Law Association painstakingly went through many old files to extract the judgments. Many of these cases were presided by local Judges such as Richard Malanjum, Ian Chin and Nurchaya Haji Arshad. It was an interesting read. I finished it while waiting for my flight in the airport.

We later found out that our hotel was charging RM120 to fetch us to the airport (!!!) notwithstanding that it is only a 15 minutes drive. I called Mr Usman to fetch me and he agreed. However, he was uncontactable an hour before he was supposed to pick me up. Fortunately, he turned up on the pick up time and explained that his mobile phone ran out of battery.

My flight back to Kuala Lumpur was delayed for few hours. It was almost midnight and the airport was empty. I wandered around the airport and even went to the empty immigration desks and international departure hall. No one stopped me!

Compendium of Malaysian Intellectual Property Cases

They say one thing always lead to another.

It all started with a blog post entitled, “All Lawyers should have an iPad!” on LoyarBurok in 2011 which talks about the use of iPad by lawyers.

Immediately after posting that article, I was invited by the Bar Council to speak on the topic, “Use of Technology amongst Lawyers“.

Most of the participants of my talk were practitioners senior to me. However, Gaythri, the Head of Marketing of LexisNexis SEA (as then she was), a multinational legal information provider, attended too. She found out about my talk through Twitter.

After the talk, I was invited by Gaythri to review their upcoming LexisNexis iPad App which I gave input.

In early January 2012, LexisNexis sent me to Fukouka to attend the LexisNexis Customer Engagement Workshop at Fukouka. There I met Norainni, Associate Director of Product Development.

Before that, I started an eGroup on Google Groups called the Malaysian Intellectual Property and Information Technology Practitioner’s eGroup in 2009. I started the group with a purpose of sharing Court judgements relating to Intellectual Property and Information Technology. The eGroup grew and soon, many members started sharing judgements.

One day, in my effort of promoting my blawg, I thought of putting the these judgements online for people to download. I even thought of doing an eBook by compiling the judgements for download for free.

I guess my inspiration came from reading ancient case laws dating back to the early 1800s. A selection of oriental cases decided in the Supreme courts of the Straits’ Settlements by Robert Carr Woods Jr published in 1869 was one of my inspirations. The book was the first organised law report containing 12 cases decided between 1834 and 1869.

I was inspired by the words of James William Norton Kyshe in Cases heard and determined in Her Majesty’s Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements, 1808 – 1885. vol. i, p. i:-

“Upon a question on which the cases decided by the Superior Courts at home, cannot give much assistance, since its determination depends in great measure on local circumstances, I think it is to be regretted that the Recorders did not preserve their judgments by publishing them….. This absence of published judgments is, as I have just said, to be regretted, because much uncertainty will continue to hang over the Administration of Justice in the Settlement. Each Recorder must begin de novo, and solve for himself, as best he may, the question whether this or that Statute is in force here; and the law will fluctuate according as he unconsciously departs from the views of his predecessors, and as his views, again are, in similar unconsciousness, departed from by his successors.” Sir Benson Maxwell, Journal Indian, Archipelago, vol. iii., part i., p. 59

Few months ago, I met Norainni again few months later at a friend’s book launch. I told her about my book and I ended up with my first book deal.

My book, entitled “Compendium of Malaysian Intellectual Property Cases”, is a compilation of reported and unreported Malaysia intellectual property cases. In this book, I’ve prepared catchwords for each cases for easy reading. You do not need to read the entire case to get the important points.

The first volume of my book contains more than 70 trade mark cases. The cases have been divided into sections such as infringement, passing off, rectification and opposition.

If the sale of this book does well, LexisNexis may publish the other volumes which have other topics such as patents, copyright, industrial designs and confidential information.

I get a very small royalty from each book – not enough to sustain me when I retire. But making money is certainly not my priority. All I wanted is to leave an impact and legacy. I want this book to be around for hundred of years.

You can order my book at LexisNexis’ website! You can download an extract of the book here.

KL Bar ITPC Startup and Business Law Seminar

The Kuala Lumpur Bar Information Technology and Publications Committee (ITPC) organised a seminar called “Startup and Business Law Seminar” at the KL Bar on 26 November 2013.

It is the KL Bar ITPC’s tradition to hold a yearly IT law forum. The forum usually relates to IT law. However, our IT law forums usually do not attract many participants.

When I took over as the chairman of ITPC this year, I thought of organising something different and current. I initially thought of having a IT fair for lawyers so that they can buy their IT equipment at a cheaper rate. However, I am told that another committee organised an IT fair and the turnout was poor.

Then the Malaysian tech startup buzz came along. I thought it would be a great idea to have a seminar to teach them about Malaysian laws. I’ve met many startup entrepreneurs and many of them have posed many law related questions to me.

However, we initially had a setback. Only 12 people signed up for our event a week before the event!

I had to contact some friends from the tech startup community and also Digital News Asia. The latter had kindly featured our event in one of their articles. BFM radio station also had a short mention of our event. You can scroll to 13:30 at the BFM podcast for our mention.

Fortunately, the number of participants shot up over the weekend and we had 50 over people at our event. I believe about half of them were from the tech startup community! It was the 1st time the KL Bar had something like this.

We covered topics relating to basic company, data protection, e-commerce, tax and cyber laws. Our speakers were a mix pf young and senior lawyers and also a law professor from a local university.

Other than educating the tech startup community on Malaysian laws, I also wanted the event to be a networking event for lawyers to meet people from the tech startup community. I hope that a mutually beneficial business relationship came out from this event.

As the KL Bar IT Chairman, I’m always thinking of ways to improve our legal practice with the use of IT. Sometimes I think of wild ideas like putting bar codes on hard copy documents (e.g agreements or pleadings) so that one can just scan the bar code to obtain the entire text of the document without having to type everything again or scan it using a OCR software or OCR enabled device. Even something simple like case management using emails instead of appearing before the Judge or Registrar (practised in Sarawak). I’m also planning to upload the talks held at KL Bar on YouTube for members’ viewing. Let’s see how it goes!

Phone Call

Received a call from a Chinese lady on my office number.

Me: Hello.
Lady: Hello, can I speak to your import department.
Me: Er. We are a law firm.
Lady: Oh, you do not have an import department?
Me: No, we are a law firm.
Lady: Can you transfer us to your import department.
Me: We don’t have an import department. We are a law firm!
Lady: We want to speak to your import department so that we can work out a mutual cooperation.
Me: We are a law firm. We don’t do import export business!
Lady: Oh. Thank you. Good Bye.

Starting a Law Firm in Malaysia

My firm was up and running within two months. Work has been trickling in rapidly thanks to friends and clients’ constant support and referrals. I have clients from my old firm trusting and following me to my new establishment. I also have clients who were excellent paymasters. One even pays a day after I issued my bill! I must thank all of them for the great support.

Many thanks to Poh Lim of Messrs Daniel & Wong (which is also a new law firm) for guiding me on how to register a law firm in Malaysia. Without further ado, the steps are:-

1. Write to the Malaysian Bar Council for consent to set up a law firm. You can send the letter requesting consent even before you leave your current firm. In fact, you should write for consent before you leave because the Malaysian Bar Council will take few weeks to respond. Malaysian Bar Council will send you the letter or you can collect it from them. The letter should include the proposed name of your law firm, address and date of commencement. More details at the Malaysian Bar website.

Here’s a sample letter that you may use:-


Membership Department,
Badan Peguam Malaysia,
No. 13, 15 & 17, Leboh Pasar Besar,
50050 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Dear Sirs,

Commencement of new practice

We refer to the above and would like to notify the Malaysian Bar of our intention to commence legal practice by way of a partnership [/ as a sole proprietor] under the name and style of “INSERT FIRM NAME”.

The tentative date of commencement of practice is “INSERT DATE OF COMMENCEMENT OF PRACTICE”.

Kindly let us know if the name is suitable for use as soon as possible for our further action.

Yours truly,


2. Once you get the letter of consent from the Bar Council, notify your State Bar on the new firm.

3. Firm Stamp. The stamp should have your firm name and address. This only costs a few Ringgit. Other than firm stamp, you should also have a Advocate and Solicitor stamp with your name and BC number.

4. Phone line and fax line. Bring along your Bar Council consent letter and your company stamp. Internet connection if required. For fax, Eddie from eLawyer and PuchongJobs.com had kindly sponsored a one year subscription of iFax, a service that send and receives faxes via Internet, as a gift for my new law firm. With this service, I don’t need a fax machine. Faxes are sent and received through emails.

5. Insurance. Apply for insurance coverage from Jardine Lloyd Thompson.

6. Bank Accounts. On the day you start the business, open 2 bank accounts namely the client account and office account. Bring along the Bar Council consent letter and company stamp to the bank. If you have a partner, you need your partner to be there to sign a mandate letter.

7. [Edited: 10 August 2016] Register your firm with the Royal Customs Department to get your Service Tax Licence. You can do it online at http://jkdm.customskl.gov.my/elesen.

8. Logo, letterhead and Name cards! You can hire a designer to do it for you. Fortunately, my friend, Jamie Toh designed my logo, letterhead and name cards for me.

These are the minimum you need to do have the firm up. On the operation side, you should get the following:-

1. Domain name. Get a domain name for your website and email. Engage a web designer. My climbing buddies from Soulizen designed my page. If you want to save costs, you can even build a website using WordPress.

2. Photocopier, scanner and printer. I have a scanner, photocopier and printer all rolled up into one for RM90 a month. However, it’s unreliable as its an old machine (hence the cheap price). I have a Samsung Laser Printer – SCX-3405 to back me up.

I also run a paperless office. Paperless doesn’t mean no paper. It means “less paper”. A paperless office allows cost deduction and time saving plus mobility. The cost of paper and printing will be reduced. You will save on the time for printing, sorting and filing your documents.

When I met Chandell, a lawyer from India, he told me that he runs a paperless office. He stores his documents in electronic copy. He disposed all his old physical files (before that digitalized them) and made some money from recycling his old files.

When he goes to Court, he brings three iPads. One for himself and two for his assistants! Following his footstep, I sometimes go to Court with just an iPad.

3. Have your personal profile and firm profile nicely written. Handy when prospective clients request for your details. You can get a designer to design your firm profile.

4. Office equipment and stationery. Binding machine, comb binders, staples, hole punchers, plastic cover, paper (80g preferred), ribbons, folders and envelopes.

5. Partnership Agreement. You MUST, MUST AND MUST have a partnership agreement if you have a partner. This website has a very good sample.

6. Accounting. If you do not have an accounting software, you may consider preparing a standard templates for your invoices and payment vouchers. An accounting software may be useful but if not, a Microsoft Excel file will do. To keep track of your daily expenses, you can try Expensify . It’s a free App which is available in most mobile devices. Also, read David Wang aka blogjunkie’s guide on accounting for layman at http://blogjunkie.net/2011/06/accounting-freelance-microbusiness.

7. A computer obviously. I now have a Samsung Ultrabook Series 5. It’s light and portable.

With this, I can work anywhere I want. Read my review of the Ultrabook is here.

My office is everywhere!

A tablet is optional. If you do, you may consider reading my “All Lawyers Should Have an iPad” article for some tips on how to use iPad for your legal practice.

8. Software. Microsoft Office is the standard document processing software for most businesses. However, it comes with a price. RM600 for their home office professional version. If you want to use open source software (free stuff), try OpenOffice. Unfortunately, documents formatted in OpenOffice will not look the same when opened in Microsoft Word (not sure about the new version). Alternatively, you can try LibreOffice or Google Docs. I have not tried the former.

In respect of email, you can try Mozilla ThunderBird if you’re too stingy to get Microsoft Outlook. But for me, I’m fine using Gmail as my email client. I prefer Gmail as my email client because it’s easy to use, secure and accessible anywhere. I didn’t want to get my own server because it’s expensive and I don’t see any justification to have one when Google has all the top minds to secure its server. But the recent case about NSA spying on our data is disturbing.

9. Client(s). No business will survive without them. They are your best friends and your worst enemies. I know of friends who started off with only 2 clients. I think one should have at least one client, whether small or large, before determining whether to start up their own firm. Also, do make sure you have at least 3 to 6 months of savings as reserve.

10. Marketing plan. This is an important consideration. The plan need not be a written one but a series of actions is required. For me, I write a lot and I distribute these writings to all my business contacts and publish them on my blawg. Of course, there are many other ways. For Social Media Marketing for Lawyer, do read my slides here.

11. [Edited: 11 February 2014] Basic File Management Documents: You will need to create a masterlist for your files, Invoice, Credit Note and Debit Note with running numbers. This basically keep tracks of the files you open / invoices you billed / debit and credit notes issued. You can use a spreadsheet. Google Docs spreadsheet is good because you can access your file anywhere you like.

Also, you should prepare template invoice, credit note, debit note and official receipt.

I guess these are the things one needs to have or do when running a new firm. Running your own firm is tough for the first few months and even years. But it’s rewarding.

When I attended a talk by Messrs Skrine when I was a student, a student asked a senior partner on how much can one achieve as a lawyer. The senior partner answered, “The sky’s the limit!”.

For a lawyer to reach the sky, my view is that the best way is to start his own firm. A lawyer employed by another would have all sorts of obstacle before him.

I wish those on the same boat with me all the best!

Marketing for Young Lawyers @ Melaka

I usually do not blog about my talks but this talk is worth a mention. I was invited by the Melaka Young Lawyers Committee to speak about the above topic. I spoke about this topic few months ago to some young KL lawyers, chambering students and law students at the KL Bar.

My presentation was attended by around 50 people. It was held at UTC Melaka, a multipurpose building with numerous Government offices.

The hall

Leong, the chair of the Melaka Young Lawyers Committee, was an excellent host. He brought me out for lunch and I met some other young lawyers too.

The presentation encompasses information about types of clientele, building your own clientele, how to get media coverage, specializing in your practice, marketing methods and tips on networking sessions.

After my presentation, I got the participants to do a group exercise. The organisers separated the participants into groups and they are required to come out with 5 ways to market their law fictitious law firm. Each group will nominate a representative to present on stage. I made each of the representative announce the names of their members. I did so because I wanted to instill a habit on these young lawyers to remember the names of the people they met. There was one girl on stage could not remember all her group members’ names. I hope she does now.

Some of the groups came out with brilliant ideas like having a drive through counter for clients to drop off and sign their documents, 24 hours legal services, roadshows.

From what I gathered, the Melaka legal industry is a small one. They only have 30 over chambering students this term. My old firm has minimum 20 chambering students at any given time! Many of these students came from the local Melaka Multimedia University (MMU). Some stayed back in Melaka to do their pupillage although they are not from Melaka.

I am told that specializing in certain subject (like IP) does seem to be viable as Melaka is a small market. But I think one can actively tap into the small and medium industry by approaching and educating them of their legal rights and obligations.

Leong and a few other fellow Melaka lawyers brought me to a nice place that apparently sells the best tosai in Melaka. I had a great time chatting and learning from the Melaka lawyers.

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!