Brian Law on how he is building a modern business law firm in Southeast Asia – Asia Law Portal4 min read
In 2019 Brian Law founded LAW Partnership and LAWP Consultancy – focused primarily on representing multinational companies in Malaysia and greater Southeast Asia. Law also recently established NewLaw consultancy Interim Legal Resourcing (ILR), where legal professionals are flexibly engaged to support businesses and legal departments. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Law explains the history of the firm and how it is seeking to continue to grow in Southeast Asia.
You are Managing Partner for Managing Partner of LAW Partnership / Director, LAWP Consultancy (SG) Pte Ltd in Malaysia. Tell us more about the firm and your role within it.
We started out on 1 January 2019 as a start-up law firm in Malaysia with the mindset of standing out and being different from other traditional law firms. We wished to challenge the market and defy the norms of the industry. With that in mind, and despite the pandemic which started exactly a year after the firm was established, we continued to grow onward and upward into a mid-sized law firm with a headcount of 45 or so to-date from only a handful back in January 2019. We have also progressed to almost a full-service law firm offering specialized legal service for intellectual property (IP), dispute resolution and arbitration; employment and industrial relations; technology, multimedia, telecommunications (TMT), corporate, commercial and mergers and acquisitions; and more recently, white-collar crimes and corporate investigations.
LAWP Consultancy (SG) Pte Ltd is an intellectual property (IP) consultancy in Singapore.
My roles as Managing Partner in LAW Partnership as well as Director at LAWP Consultancy (SG) Pte Ltd are highly challenging, especially with the economic effects of the pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, I remained focused on maneuvering and growing the business in this challenging climate by first establishing and fortifying the management team of the firm which plays a crucial part in sustaining and growing the business of the firm.
Tell us more about your practice focus.
I started out as an IP lawyer about 21 years ago and have worked both in-house and in private practice. Whilst I remain active in the scene, I have since expanded my areas of practice to include white-collar crimes and corporate investigations, and now focus more on cross-border legal work.
Tell us about Your Interim Legal Resourcing business.
Interim legal resourcing (ILR) is an alternative solution to talent management that promises flexible arrangements where legal professionals are engaged to support businesses and legal departments as and when needed. Interim legal professionals are legally qualified individuals with relevant expertise who are contracted out to businesses on an ad-hoc or temporary basis, and who can provide support with legal advisory and high-volume work, without the hiring companies having to burden themselves with the long-term commitment and costs of hiring such as statutory payroll contributions.
During the pandemic, I realized that there was heightened demand for mobility amongst some of our clients. What this meant was that they needed more manpower but could not make regular hiring decisions as easily due to frozen headcounts. This posed an opportunity for us to be agile and roll out Interim Legal Resourcing which sought to address the needs during that time and in that environment. One year later, today, ILR has proven to become a very popular business and it continues to grow from strength to strength.
What unique challenges and opportunities do businesses face in Malaysia?
In recent years, Malaysia had undergone severe political instability resulting in slow investments in Malaysia. We had also experienced talent retention issues with a lot of talented workforce looking to move out of the country. Nevertheless, with the new ‘unity government’ by the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which has breathed a new life into the Malaysian economy, the optics are starting to look promising and more stable, and with this, I am confident that there will be more economic investments and opportunities, in line with the strengthening of the Malaysian Ringgit.
In the legal industry specifically, the pandemic lockdown was challenging especially for those in litigation and going to court. However, now, with online hearing capabilities and numerous technology-based solutions with the likes of virtual hearings and case management systems, things have started to look up.
Also, in the business of law, there are many new prospects for alternative legal services such as interim legal resourcing, the use of legal technology, and managed legal services – that are catching up in Malaysia.
Has technology impacted how you practice law and market your services? If so, how?
Our clientele are generally MNCs and as such, we are expected to possess virtual and technological capabilities. Business proposals, and effective and secure document management systems and robust cybersecurity capability are all considered bare necessities both internally when we communicate amongst ourselves, as well as externally when we communicate with clients. We had already been working this way since before but with the pandemic, we had to up our game.
Beyond that, I notice legal technology is picking up in Malaysia as more local corporates are willing to explore and test out various technologies with in-house legal teams in order to be efficient. Our team of technology-savvy lawyers continue to guide our clients on what legal technology can do for their legal departments and organisations and help them align their internal technology deployment to increase their efficiency.
What are your goals for the future of the firm and the consultancy?
My aspiration for the firm is to grow into an elite law firm in Malaysia with footprints in South East Asia. This will strengthen our working relationships with our existing clientele operating in the region. We want to set an example that Malaysian lawyers are capable of excelling to be regional players and compete with other major law firms internationally.
How can clients and referral sources contact you?
I can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]