Multilaw Academy 2011 @ Chiang Mai

Multilaw is an association of independent law firms around the world.

My firm sent my colleague, Jack and me to Chiang Mai for this week long training. The training given was fairly simple but focused on interesting topics. But most importantly, it was an academy for all junior lawyers from all Multilaw members.

Infinity pool @ Verandah Hotel!

We were put in a very nice hotel by the name Verandah Resort and Spa. I will talk about this place on a separate entry.

The week long conference was very memorable. Our day would start with a class by Multilaw senior lawyers. Our night would start with dinner and end with heavy drinking – everyday!

The participants were mostly young lawyers ranging from mid 20s to early 30s. We had lawyers from Brazil, Netherlands, Philippines, China, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Canada, Turkey, Denmark, Ethiopia and Poland. Every night we will stay back for drinks after dinner. It was a good mix of people. We all got along really well and had loads of fun. I don’t think there was a day which we didn’t drink.

The participants and trainers. I’m the tallest one. Stand out, don’t blend in!

In respect of the training, there were two things that I remember the most. The first is the mock negotiation. We were split into groups and given a scenario. The scenario relates to a share purchase agreement. We were given instructions from our mock clients and then we have to negotiate a deal between the two groups. I partnered a Dutch and we were tasked to negotiate with a Dane and Filipino. It was tough but fun! I learned so much!

Training in progress

The second training was on what an in-house lawyer wants from his lawyer. Multilaw invited an in-house counsel from a large multinational company to speak. It was highly informative. For the benefit of my readers, I’ve summarized some of the points given by the counsel:-

1. Get law firm partners’ and associates’ comprehensive details on firm website. In-house lawyers always look at them.
2. Put pictures of partners and associates in a presentable manner. Not too casual.
3. Details of associates in the website should include a capability list.
4. Get into Chambers Guide (law firm ranking guide) if possible.
5. Lawyers should specialize. In-house lawyers always look for experts.
6. Once engaged by a company, ask in-house counsel on what do they dislike from a lawyer and try to avoid doing that.
7. Always understand and read about the client. Sign up with Google Alerts for daily updates on client.
8. When meeting clients, don’t start rambling about yourself. Ask open ended questions like what their views are and how we can help them
9. Ask the client how they like to be contacted. Eg phone, email. Some clients like to speak on phone and some like emails.
10. Be known to be giving a lot of value. Tell client that you are not charging for certain work.
11. Billing is an art. Only bill things that are of value. Don’t bill for things like looking for phone number or files.
12. Be known to be responsive. Always reply queries immediately. Get back to people promptly.
13. On emails, not necessary to give answers immediately but respond with some pseudo substance response eg I’ll get back to you tomorrow

We were given a one day tour around Chiang Mai. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to see many things. We went to the night market and find that most of the stuff sucks. And as usual, we ended up drinking at a pub.

Our hot Turkish lawyer. She doesn’t drink beer. She only drinks tequila.

We had dinner at one restaurant that allows its customers to draw on its walls. We had all our names written on the wall.

We ended our academy with dinner at a nice place called the House. Jack and I sat with the guys. It’s been a while since I had so much fun.

At the dinner

After the dinner, we headed to Mandarin Oriental for drinks.

Mandarin Oriental. Yes, Mandarin Oriental. No kidding!

We ended our night around 2am. By then, all of us were dead tired and many had to rush back to their hotel room to pack for their early flight. Jack and I slept only an hour to catch our 9am flight.

The gang shook hands and hugged before departing. Although it was only 7 days, everyone bonded very well. It was kinda sad to see the academy ending. There may not be a time where all of us would be together again.

Nevertheless, in order for us to keep in touch, I started a Facebook group. Almost everyone that attended are now on that group.

It was a great experience. I hope the new found friendship will last until the end of our lives.