Beijing, China 2013 – Day 3 – Great Wall of China & Ming Tombs Museum

This was the highlight of my trip. I finally get to see the Great Wall of China.

We visited the Mutianyu wall. Our friends in KL highly recommend this wall instead of Badaling wall as the latter is extremely crowded.

I’m glad that we chose Mutianyu wall because it was not crowded. In fact, there were hardly anyone!

Shops before Mutianyu Wall

We took a cable car up the wall. Feet was dangling midair. Quite scary.

We explored the restored area (many parts of the Great Wall are in a dilapidated state due to lack of maintenance). We also got to explore some of the dilapidated areas. Some of the walls and buildings have collapsed with trees growing on it. Years of neglect had left them in this state. Villagers have also plundered parts of the wall to build homes.

Nevertheless, the view was magnificent! The sky was clear and the walls were covered with snow.

We came at the right time. Snow was everywhere and we got to experience winter at its finest.

The wall seems never ending.

Dilapidated areas

No naked flames – Your flames are allowed to wear clothing

Last thing I want is to tumble down these slipper stairs

My ears were about to fall off thus the beanie.

Wish we had more time to explore the place. If I have time, I would love to do a Great Wall tour where I will hike from the beginning of the wall towards the other end of the wall!

Ming Tombs Museum was next. There are 13 tombs but only a few are open to the public. I was told that many of these tombs were not explored due to the fear to contamination.

We visited Emperor Zhu Yi Jun and his two empresses tombs. It’s buried deep underground. Frankly, there are nothing much to see.

While at Emperor Zhu Yi’s tomb:-

Me: This place looks like a subway station
Wife: Shh! Respect the dead!
Me: It smells like a gym!
Wife: SSH!!!

I later realised that the smell was due to the rubber floor. The interior of the tomb is nothing to shout about. However, I was in awe with Chinese ancient architecture. They managed to build something so deep underneath without any modern machinery and tools.

But I wouldn’t go again if I had the choice.

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 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

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

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.

Kedai Kopi Raya @ Keningau

A day before  the 13th General Election, my wife and I visited Chia Min at Keningau, a town 1 1/2 hours away from Kota Kinabalu City. The drive there was pretty scenic as we went through the hills of Banjaran Crocker. We could see the valley below us. Amazingly,  you can see the clouds up-close!

Rest stop with a scenic view

Paddy field

Keningau is a small town. Although it’s a small city with less than 150,000 people, their local Facebook page, I ♥ Keningau, has 17, 000 members!

I was expecting a town with a few rows of shops but it’s actually a developed town with a shopping centre.

Election fever @ Keningau

Chia Min brought us to a local favourite called Kedai Kopi Raya which is famous for their pastries. So famous that you’ll find a queue whenever the new pastries come out from the kitchen!

We tried the big pao and char siew (barbecue roasted pork). They were not bad. Texture is all fluffy and the pork is sweet. Many times better than Tanjung Malim’s Yik Mun pao.

Peanut butter bun. It’s a mixture of peanut butter and sugar. I remember when I was a kid, I hated peanut butter on its own. But I will only eat it if my peanut butter sandwich is mixed with sugar!

Each pastry comes with a price tag!