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!