As companies look to cope with a sluggish economy, one of the ways they are cutting legal costs is by moving away from bigger firms and turning instead to smaller, nimbler outfits. Luckily for them, Malaysia has seen the rise of some quality smaller outfits that are punching well above their weight in terms of work handled and services delivered. This list profiles the most promising ones.
The list below is in alphabetical order.
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Amir Khusyairi & Associates
Amir Khusyairi & Associates focuses on work related to SMEs. In the past year, the firm has helped a 12-yearold G7 contractor company avoid winding up; helped a small British company recover some investments made in Malaysia through an out-of-court settlement; helped a Singapore company expanding into Malaysia in advertising and F&B; and advised and prepared the cause papers for an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland for a local football team. It says that there have been two major drivers behind the firm’s recent growth. “Firstly, we have increased the reach of our website and social media, and this has brought a lot more leads to us, with a majority coming from foreign clients,” it says. “Secondly, there has been more collaborations with other industries – like company secretaries, accountants, government entrepreneurship agencies and sports industry stakeholders, and this resulted in increased referral work.”Back to top
The fast-growing Kuala Lumpur-based Daniel & Wong has seen its annual revenue increasing by approximately 30 percent annually. “We are now working closely with a number of international law firms in an effort to establish our presence on a regional level. We have also been invited to participate in various law firm networks, which we are now exploring,” says the firm. In the past 12 months, Daniel & Wong has been involved in a variety of work, including M&A, commercial transactions, real estate and banking transactions, and litigation. “Our growth strategy thus far has been largely organic in that we have focused on growing incrementally with right talent,” says the firm. “We have focused on our strengths in carving out niche practice areas within the corporate/commercial sphere, and we have consistently focused on improving our talent recruitment and retention strategy in an effort to attract and retain the right talent in building the firm.”Back to top
David Lai & Tan
Since its founding, David Lai & Tan has tripled its headcount from a three-lawyer outfit to nine fee-earners, and moving from a small shop-lot to a 5000-square-feet office located in a purpose-built building. “Starting out as a boutique outfit which focused on litigation and real estate, the firm has expanded its practice to corporate and commercial practice where the firm advises clients on a diverse spectrum of practice areas including fundraising and corporate exercises, take-overs and acquisitions, capital fund-raising, joint ventures and business cooperation, and IPOs,” says David Lai & Tan. “In a rapidly changing and highly competitive market, we endeavour to put our clients’ interest front and centre. In every transaction, the firm’s experience in commercial litigation practice has definitely differentiate our practice where we are able to provide advice and spot issues which will avoid any vague and ambiguous situations in the event the matter goes into litigation.”Back to top
Gan, Lee & Tan (GLT Law)
Since the firm’s establishment by its three co-founders last year, three new partners have joined, specialising in corporate, dispute resolution and real estate, respectively. In December, it further expanded its dispute resolution practice by merging with another boutique law firm, Kee Wai & Associates. “From Day 1, we set out our direction to be a ‘modern, innovative and forward-thinking law firm’ and that is the vision that we want to continue to live up to. We incorporated technology into our legal practice,” says GLT Law, which has recently been making waves for innovative legal tech products, such as an AI chatbot and an online legal health check assessment tool. “We constantly challenge our lawyers to think out of the box and to take innovative approach in their work.” Previously, the partners worked with firms like Christopher & Lee Ong, Rahmat Lim & Partners, Singapore’s Withers KhattarWong, and the UK’s Trowers & Hamlins.Back to top
Lim Chung & Zahbia
Sabahan law firm Lim Chung & Zahbia was established in the city of Tawau in 2008, and it opened its second office in Kota Kinabalu in 2014. The real-estate-focused law firm has been involved in work related to a number of property developments in Sabah, including counselling Investasia for its Coral Bay @ Sutera Harbour project in Kota Kinabalu, (Investasia being a part of GSH, a company listed on the mainboard of Singapore Exchange); advising Hap Seng Properties Development on its Kingfisher Inanam project in Kota Kinabalu (Hap Seng Properties Development is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hap Seng Consolidated, a listed company); and representing Dinamik Atlantik on its Bukit Bantayan project in Kota Kinabalu (Dinamik Atlantik being a wholly owned subsidiary of listed company Gamuda Berhad). “Delivering quality services in every aspect and providing innovative and practical solutions to our clients,” is the firm’s motto.Back to top
Munhoe & Mar
The six-partner Munhoe & Mar does both transactional and disputes work. In the past year, it acted for shareholders in the highly contentious shareholders-directors dispute of a company listed on Bursa Malaysia; acted for a multinational company listed on the NYSE in an industrial dispute between the company and its union in Malaysia; acted for a landowner for a compulsory land acquisition matter and obtained a compensation of approximately 29 million ringgit ($7 million) for the client; and acted for a Malaysian conglomerates on two compulsory land acquisition matters. Munhoe & Mar has seen its partnership grow by one, and hired four associates in the past 12 months, and the firm is currently looking to form associations with legal firms within Southeast Asia. It describes itself as “a result-driven legal firm since its inception that will continue to provide practical legal solutions and quality legal service to clients, while at the same time moving into international scene.”Back to top
Shahra, Ezzad & Izyan
Shahra, Ezzad & Izyan was established by its three name partners Wan Shahranita Binti Saharan, Anwar Ezzad Bin Zainal and Izyan Shazwani Binti Ab Aziz. It focuses on real estate, banking, corporate, commercial, civil litigation, probate and administration of estate, and Syariah law. Anwar Ezzad has already handled 50 High Courts cases, 28 Session Courts cases,15 Court of Appeal cases and seven Federal Court cases, including the case of Hj Saari Sungib v Pemegang Amanah Lembaga Zakat Selangor (MAIS), Berdaftar & Another. Izyan, on the other hand, has a reputation for settling problematic property conveyancing files. In the past year, the firm has seen revenue increase 50 percent and added a legal education department and a Syariah department. “I strive on putting the needs and desires of the clients first in order to build customer loyalty, as it goes hand in hand with long term sustainable growth,” says Izyan.Back to top
Zahir Khailani Advocates & Solicitors
Zahir Khailani is currently involved in a corporate advisory capacity to a major commercial bank as it converts from a conventional bank to an Islamic financial institution. The law firm is presently involved in converting the bank’s legal documentation for retail and corporate to ensure full Syariah compliance affecting more than 18,000 accounts, having a financial implication of approximately 1.5 billion ringgit ($360 million). This work has certainly benefited the firm, which saw a 45 percent in headcount during the past year, as well as 60 percent increase in revenue. Zahir Khailani says it is currently also looking to add a number of new practices, such as anti-dumping, countervailing duties and safeguards. It has also set up a team focused on corporate governance and policies. Finally, it has added a lawyer focused on sports law. “We are investors in people, and our strategy for growth is directly linked to this,” says the firm.
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