Archive for the ‘International Law News’ Category

Coffee Talk with MWLEC

Friday, March 17th, 2017

(This article is reproduced with the permission of the Malaysian Women Legal Counsel Association (MWLEC)).

Our Eddie Law recently had a great time chatting over cups of coffee with the vibrant individuals from the Malaysian Women Legal Counsel Association, also known as MWLEC.

MWLEC is a new association which has been set up specifically with the aim of providing support and useful insights to female in-house counsels in Malaysia, in order to help them advance in their chosen careers and increase their marketability. This dynamic association provides its members with the latest legal updates, news, as well as valuable training programs in order to stay relevant in this competitive field.

In the interview, Eddie had the opportunity to share his knowledge and expertise on various issues such as the latest development in the legal recruitment industry, must-have criteria to succeed as in-house counsels, tips on training needs and the overall market outlook for the legal industry. Read on!

eddie2COFFEE TALK WITH EDDIE, THE FOUNDER OF ELAWYER

  1. In this digital era, has there been any change in terms of the tools used by the hiring manager to assess a candidate?

Eddie: Well, some hiring managers these days are checking online profiles of potential candidates via major social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook to have a better understanding of the candidate. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain a presentable profile online.

On another note, more and more companies have also adopted the online Psychometric Tests to screen candidates. The Psychometric Test is used to gauge the candidates’ suitability for a role by determining if the candidate possesses the personality, characteristics and aptitude required for a specific role. Surprisingly, many candidates who seem to be articulate and appear to be “smart” during interview were unable to do well in the said test.

  1. Based on your experience, what was the most unusual request you received from a hiring manager before they conduct its first interview with a candidate?

Eddie: On one occasion, an employer requested me to provide information on the marital status of female candidate and if she is married, whether she has children and the age of the children. The reason behind such unusual request is that the employer prefers candidate who could commit to long work hours as and when required. The employer also mentioned that they have had a history of former female employees taking emergency leave frequently to attend to the needs of her young family.

Please do bear in mind that this was an exceptional case, most employers do not have such a preference. I personally think that with the current development in technology, there is increasing flexibility in how work can be performed. Hence, this change will benefit young mothers and empower them in their work. Employers should abandon this biased mentality as they could “miss out” on hiring young mothers with great talent.

  1. What type of training would you encourage an in-house counsel to attend in order for them to maintain their employability?

 

Eddie: In addition to attending trainings to sharpen their existing skill set, in-house counsels should attend industrial trainings. It is crucial for in-house counsels to have a better understanding of the industry trend so that they can provide more practical and strategic advice to the business without depending on an external lawyer. In depth knowledge of the industry is the differentiating factor between an in-house counsel and external lawyer.

 

Last but not least, leadership and managerial trainings are equally important for an in-house counsel. A successful corporate counsel is not merely a technical expert but also a great leader/people manager. Without good leadership and people management skills, it will be very challenging to lead a team.  An in-house counsel has to deal with co-workers from various levels of the organisation so they must possess good people skills in order to perform their functions effectively.

 

  1. What is your advice for someone who newly joins in-house position from a law firm?

 

Eddie: This is my advice to you:-

  1. Be humble and be humble! I must say that assuming the role of an in-house counsel is more than just providing legal advice. It is very challenging as you are expected to think like a commercial lawyer, so you need to learn how to be more commercially savvy. You will also need to know how to deal with/manage people of different levels of seniority and background to ensure effective communication and work harmoniously with each of them. Your work will not be purely legal, it will also involve the “operational” aspect of the business so you need to learn to be more flexible in your thinking, to provide more practical and relevant advice for the business (as opposed to giving pure “legal” advice only). You need to understand the industry and business operations of the company. It is quite obvious that a former lawyer who turns to becoming an in-house counsel has many things to learn so they should be more open to learning those things.
  2. Communicate, communicate and communicate! I have observed so many private practitioners struggling to adjust themselves into the corporate working culture. In particular, former lawyers find that people management/engagement is the most challenging aspect in a corporate working environment. In fact, all of these issues can be resolved with better communication and by being more diplomatic as and when you approach the business. Hostile confrontation and sarcasm will only ruin working relationships with co-workers and hinder your advancement in climbing the corporate ladder.

 

  1. Tell us about yourself and eLawyer.

 

Eddie: I am a lawyer turned legal recruiter. I started my career in private practice, before working as an in-house counsel. In 2007, I started a law portal called eLawyer.com.my (“eLawyer”) and began providing legal recruitment services around the year 2009. eLawyer provides two main services which are “Online Job Board Listing” and “Executive Search Service”.

 

My working experience in a law firm and as a corporate counsel sets me apart from normal recruiters, as I better understand the needs and requirements of both employers and candidates. I believe this enables me to make a better match between employer and candidate.

 

As of today, eLawyer has successfully helped more than 500 legal talents in securing their ideal jobs (excluding those who secure jobs through the online job listing board) and has served more than 500 law firms and corporations in recruitment.  There are more than 7,500 lawyers registered with us.

 

  1. For the past 9 years in eLawyer, do you see an increase in the in-house legal post in Malaysia? Yes/no, why?

 

Eddie: Yes, I see more and more in house jobs available in the market  because more companies are becoming aware of the importance of having an in-house counsel, there are more stringent regulatory requirements, and it saves cost (when a company grows to a certain size, having an in-house lawyer can help to save on legal fees).

 

  1. How would you describe a good in-house counsel?

 

Eddie: I would say a good in-house counsel is:-

 

  • a trusted counsel by the senior management and team members.
  • able to understand the business of the employer well.
  • able to offer strategic and practical legal advice.
  • a good team leader and effective manager.
  • a person who has good legal skill and a business mind.

 

  1. Can you share with us, what would be the overall market outlook for in-house legal jobs in year 2017?

 

Eddie: Due to the slowdown in the economy (or at least with the perceived slowdown), there may not be as many new openings in the job market. That being said, there are still many existing job vacancies available. In any economic condition, talented and capable people will always be sought-after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entry of Foreign Law Firms into Malaysia – the effects on the local job market

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

foreign law firms in Malaysia

An interesting development in the local legal scene is the recent entry of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) into Malaysia as a qualified foreign law firm (QFLF) approved by the Malaysian Bar Council. With the required approval in place, HSF is expected to open its local office in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017. This would mark HSF’s ninth base in the region after establishing its presence in numerous other Asian cities including Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Jakarta. This third largest practice among international law firms in Asia has previously advised several giant Malaysian companies such as Axiata, Petronas and Sime Darby. HSF has indicated that their Malaysian-based team will be focusing on specific practice areas such as transactions, disputes, and Islamic finance.

Liberalisation of the legal services industry in Malaysia took off in 2014 following significant amendments made to the Legal Profession Act 1976. Foreign firms are now allowed to set up in Malaysia either by obtaining a QFLF licence or by entering into a joint venture with a local outfit. HSF will be the second foreign firm to open office in Malaysia under the newly-introduced QFLF licence regime, after Trowers & Hamlins filled up the first spot in 2015. Despite this being a fairly recent development, we can already see the landscape of the local legal services industry rapidly changing.

The QFLF regime was introduced primarily to support the Malaysian Government’s International Islamic Finance Centre (“MIFC”) initiative. Therefore, firms who apply for the licence are required to have expertise in the area of international Islamic finance. The other route for foreign firms to establish a presence in Malaysia is through forming an International Partnership with a local entity. Both routes would require application for licences, which will be renewable every 3 years.

In opening up our legal services market, it is evident that efforts have been taken to achieve a balance between reaping the benefits of liberalisation and protecting the growth and competitiveness of Malaysian law firms. To this end, certain ring-fencing measures have been put in place. Although QFLF firms are allowed to operate independently without being associated with any local firms, they need to ensure that at least 30% of their fee earners are Malaysians.

In cases of foreign entry through establishing an International Partnership, the Malaysian joint-venture partner must hold at least 60% of the firm’s equity and voting rights. The percentage of local lawyers working in such a firm must be 60% or more and the name of the partnership must reflect both the joint-venture partners. An example of such an association is the forged alliance between UK law firm DAC Beachcroft and local outfit Gan Partnership in 2016. In terms of practice area, both QFLFs and International Partnerships are not permitted to advise on transactions which involve solely Malaysian law. They are also restricted from practising certain areas of law, including constitutional and administrative law, conveyancing, criminal law and family law.

In the last few years, many local law firms have taken the opportunity to create a stronger regional or global presence by establishing formal links with foreign firms. The oldest exclusive tie-up for a Malaysian firm would be that of Wong & Partners becoming a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International. To cite other examples, Malaysian corporate law firm Foong & Partners joined forces with Singapore’s acclaimed Wong Partnership in 2013, whilst Christopher & Lee Ong forged a strategic alliance with Rajah & Tan in the same year. Fast-growing Rahmat Lim & Partners also chose to go down a similar path by partnering up with Singapore’s Allen & Gledhill. Meanwhile, Abdullah Chan & Co is now able to offer additional reach in Europe after tying up with UK law firm Child & Child and law firm Cotty Vivant Marchisio and Lauzeral headquartered in Paris. Another significant alliance to mention is the exclusive tie-up between Jeff Leong, Poon & Wong with China’s largest law firm, Dacheng Law Alliance which occurred in 2011. Such moves have definitely enhanced these firms’ profiles and credibility at an international level. Yet, it is noted that certain well-established corporate law firms in Malaysia, notably Skrine, Shearn Delamore and Kadir Andri & Partners, have not taken similar steps to formally link up with foreign legal entities.

It is also interesting to observe how the shift towards liberalisation would affect the job market in the Malaysian legal industry. Change is indeed inevitable and we can expect the effects to be seen and felt from many different aspects. Based on the experience of other jurisdictions, would there been an increase in the salary levels for lawyers? In post-liberalised Singapore for instance, foreign firms have been known to pay starting salaries as high as $7,000 to bright young lawyers freshly called to the Bar. With the current highest starting monthly remuneration of RM6,000 offered by Lee-Hishamuddin Alan Gledhill, would we find foreign firms paying even higher than this?

Furthermore, the exposure gained from working on international deals and high-end projects which transcend geographical boundaries would give local talents the opportunity to tap on foreign resources and expertise, paving the way for them to develop their legal skills to a greater level. Clearly, this would make them more marketable and increase their chances of getting jobs in international law firms overseas. Whether this would ultimately result in brain drain in Malaysia remains to be seen and depends on many other factors, including the local economic situation and political climate. It can perhaps be argued that with a higher salary structure in place across the board and the high quality of legal work available locally, the effects of liberalisation on the legal services industry in Malaysia has actually removed at least some of the main incentives for our lawyers to secure employment abroad.

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every coin. With the entry of foreign law firms into the local sphere, would local talents find themselves working in a more competitive and fast-paced environment?

Can we expect the already aggressive talent competition among talented lawyers to further intensify? This may be the case especially for lawyers specialising in specific practice areas such as corporate law, capital markets, projects and banking. Increasingly high expectations will likely translate into longer working hours and the quest to achieve work-life balance may be more challenging than ever.

Nonetheless, it can be argued that the way liberalisation is perceived is a matter of mindset. The stance taken by the industry seems to be that this development should be embraced by our local talents so as to not be left behind both in terms of options and opportunities. So are you ready, young lawyers?

Marcus Evans Litigation Asia Summit 2012 and IP Asia Law Summit 2012

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

By eLawyer

The Marcus Evans Litigation Asia Summit 2012 and IP Asia Law Summit 2012 brought together over 120 in-house counsels and practicing lawyers to the exclusive Marina Bay Sands, Singapore for three days of seminars, networking, fun and laughter.

eLawyer is one of the media partners for the event.

It was attended by many in-house counsels and law firms from the region such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, China, India and even from United States of America namely the law firm of Adli Law Group.

The setting of the hall that took place for the event.

The participants chit-chat with each other.

The event was kicked off with a welcome address by Marta Federici of Marcus Evans to the participants of both summits and followed by an opening address by Chris Neumeyer, Senior counsel of Lite-On Technology Corporation.

The IP Law Summit followed suit with an interesting presentation by Andrew Marshall, the SVP Legal & Business Affairs & GC, ESPN Star Sports on how to craft forcefully defensive digital procedure to map, track and half online infringement. He shared on the use of the “IP Fingerprinting” technology to trace users who stream ESPN’s content online.

The entire event had plenty of sharing sessions by knowledgeable and experienced in house counsels from various well known organisations such as ASUStek, Ford, Seagate Technology, Fox Channel, Sony, Motion Picture Association International, Coach Asia, Starhub, eBay and so on. Notably, legal information service provider LexisNexis was present as well.

The sharing session.

One of the main highlights of the event is the One-to-one meeting sessions. Participating law firms and in-house counsels are given to meet the law firms or counsels of their choice in a comfortable and private setting. There, practitioners could share their services to the counsels whereas the counsels can meet the firms of numerous jurisdictions relevant to their needs.

One-to-one meeting session.

Although the daily event officially ends after dinner, some participants took their night further at the bars of Marina Sand Bay Hotel for.

The event ended after lunch on the third day. Participants bade farewell to their new found friends with handshakes and some hugs. We hope that the new found relationships will blossom further into mutually beneficial business relationship.

Please look forward to their forthcoming similar event which will be conducted at Hong Kong in November 2012.

You know it’s bad when the JUDGE falls asleep…

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

by June Khaw

What should you do if the judge presiding over your case dozes off in the midst of your argument?

Meet Judge Ian Dodd, a New South Wales District Court judge who had a reputation for nodding off in court in the midst of trials.

In 2002, he dozed off in a corporate fraud case and during a hearing on a shooting. In 2003, he nodded off while a rape victim was testifying. In 2004, he managed to get some shut-eye at various points during the seven-month long trial of seven men accused of smuggling 383kg of cocaine into Australia (they were all convicted, by the way).

Court officials had to keep waking up Judge Dodd (a.k.a. “Judge Nodd”) by banging tables, dropping thick bundles of documents on the table, raising their voices and clearing their throats loudly. However, none of the lawyers who experienced the judge’s sleeping bouts were willing to speak to him about the problem.

In 2005, Judge Dodd presided over the trial of two men accused of smuggling drugs into Australia. Unsurprisingly, he managed to sleep through bits of the 17-day trial. His naps ranged from a few minutes to as long as 20 minutes. He dozed off more often after lunch breaks and when video and audio tapes were played in court.

At times, he snored so loudly that he woke himself up.

Some jurors laughed and mimicked him in court, some rolled their eyes, some just dozed off along with him.

The accused and their families were not amused though. However, when one of them tried to protest, his solicitor just said “Look mate, it doesn’t really matter. It happens with this judge”, and they pressed on with the trial. Hmm.

The two men were convicted and they appealed (of course).

However, their first appeal was rejected by the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal, which felt that despite the frequent naps, there was no error in judgment. Judge Dodd, amazingly enough, missed none of the important evidence and even managed to sum up the case accurately and in a balanced manner to the jury. Shocking.

But could the jury have thought that the judge’s sleeping bouts meant that he felt the defense was not even worth staying awake for? 

Apparently the Australian High Court thought so. The Court believed that the distraction caused by Judge Dodd’s constant sleeping resulted in a gross miscarriage of justice and ordered a retrial.

Judge Dodd was subsequently diagnosed with sleep apnoea, a medical condition where the sufferer stops breathing for short periods during sleep. These disturbed periods of sleep causes fatigue to the sufferer in the daytime, which explains Judge Dodd’s slumber in court.

Shortly after that drug-trafficking trial in 2005, Judge Dodd retired after eight years on the bench and received treatment for his sleep apnoea. He currently receives a yearly pension of A$152,000. We bet he’s not complaining.

So, are there other judges out there who sleep during trials? It appears so.

Other reported cases of judicial sleepiness include:

• Judge Roderick Meagher, another New South Wales judge who is known for his ability to fall asleep on the bench. He was said to have “brought colour to the Court of Appeal, but not…much movement.”

• A Nigerian judge on the International War Crimes Tribunal who had “regular sleep episodes” during a 2001 prosecution.

• A previous Ontario case where the judge had fallen asleep during the criminal defendant’s cross-examination (a new trial was subsequently ordered as a result).

• Another Ontario case where one of the judges, Justice Ginsberg, fell asleep during a 2006 redistricting case. The other two judges, Justices Souter and Alito reportedly “looked at her, but did not give her a nudge”.

• Yet another Ontario case, Leader Media Products v. Sentinel Hill Alliance, where the judge was reported to have fallen asleep several times during the trial.

Hmm, must be something in the Ontario air…
 

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Tribunal pénal international pour le Rwanda)

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

PRESS RELEASE

Communication Cluster III

(non official – for media information only)

Arusha, 18 December 2008

Protais Zigiranyirazo Sentenced to 20 Years Imprisonment

Trial Chamber III composed of Judges Inés Mónica Weinberg de Roca, Khalida Rachid Khan and Lee Gacuiga Muthoga, on Thursday 18 December 2008, convicted Protais Zigiranyirazo of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment. Credit was given to him for time spent in prison.

The Trial Chamber however acquitted him of conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and murder as a crime against humanity. The Chamber found that the Prosecution failed to prove that Protais Zigiranyirazo conspired with officials, at various meetings, to plan or facilitate attacks on the Tutsi population. Likewise, the Prosecution failed to prove any criminal responsibility for alleged involvement in the Interahamwe, or in killings on Rurunga Hill. Furthermore, the Prosecution failed to prove that he was responsible for the murder of the three gendarmes or of Stanislas Sinibagiwe.

However, the Trial Chamber found that Zigiranyirazo, also known as “Mr. Z”, whose younger sister was married to the late President Habyarimana, was guilty of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the common purpose of committing genocide and extermination of Tutsi at Kesho hill, as well as aiding and abetting genocide at the Kiyovu roadblock.

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James I.Keane Memorial Award in eLawyering

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

We received a request from Richard Granat, who is presently co-chair of the eLayewring Task Force of the Law Practise Management Section of American Bar Association, to post the below contest: 

The James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering is awarded once a year by the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association at the Annual ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago.

The  Award is named for James I. Keane, the founding Chair of the ABA eLawyering Task Force. The Task Force was created in 2000, when ABA President William G. Paul, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, took the unusual and creative step of asking a Section to assume responsibility for one of his presidential initiatives, namely an examination of ways that lawyers could use the Internet and other electronic resources to deliver legal services to people of moderate means more efficiently and effectively. Last year\’s recipient was the law firm of Cowell Taradash, P.C., based in Chicago, for the web site at Illinoisdivorce.com .

The ABA eLawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section will review the nominations and select the recipient. The Award Guidelines and Nomination Forms can be found here. Law firms can nominate themselves.

The deadline for submission is January 15. 2009.

Please visit http://www.abanet.org/lpm/award/jimkeane/index.shtml for more information.

Sleeping with Family (By Raphael Kok)

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

wooden-door-incest-copy.jpg 

Incest – the act of having sexual relations with a family member. It’s a taboo that has lasted through the ages, and prevalent across the world. A taboo so strong that the law makes it illegal.

But recently, the debate on whether it should be decriminalized has arisen again. In early March 2008, a German man, known as Patrick S, had appealed to Germany’s highest court of appeal for his conviction on having an incestuous relationship with his sister to be overturned. His appeal failed.

According to the court, incest should be outlawed as it “do[es] not affect them exclusively, but also can have an effect on family and society and have consequences for children who arise from the relationship”. However, one of the judges dissented, arguing that the law “is based exclusively on moral beliefs rather than with the objective of legal protection”.

Is incest such a despicable act? History has shown that it is. For example, when the cruel King Henry VIII of England wanted to rid of one of his many wives, Anne Boelyn, he concocted a heinous crime against her – that she was sleeping with her brother. The only known civilization that ever accepted incest was ancient Roman Egypt, where relationships between brothers and sisters were common. Arguably, this has a lot to do with the idea of maintaining the purity of a bloodline.

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An 8-year old boy get into law school…

Monday, March 17th, 2008

lawyer-graduation.jpg 

In March 2008, an 8-year old boy shocked the Brazilian legal fraternity by passing a law entrance exam, and initially enrolled by a private law school. The boy, Joao Victor Portellinha de Oliveira, attended his first class with his father. Upon realizing its mistake, the law school, Universidade Paulista cancelled Joao’s enrollment and returned his tuition fees to his family. It clarified that the mistake was made by one of its’ employees, and that a student must graduate from high school to be qualified to be enrolled.

On what inspired him to take the exam, Joao said “My dream is to be a federal judge. So I decided to take the test to see how I would do. It was easy. I studied a week before the test.”

In Brazil, students are required to take an entrance exam before enrolling into a college. Each college has its own exams, and it is commonly perceived that exams from private universities are easier than those from public universities, which offer free education.

Understandably, Universidade Paulista’s mistake of enrolling Joao has generated much uproar in the legal circles. The Brazilian Bar Association has stated that this serves as a warning about the low standards of some of the country’s law schools. Education Minister Fernando Haddad has since ordered an investigation.

Is such an unfortunate scenario possible in Malaysia? Maybe so. In Malaysia, there are no compulsory entrance exams. Both private and public law schools generally require students to have taken SPM and a foundation course (e.g. STPM, ‘A’ Levels, Diploma, Matric). But like Brazil, entry into private law schools are commonly perceived to be easier than that of public law schools.

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Sexual Empowerment (By Raphael Kok)

Monday, March 10th, 2008

 

 

breast.jpg 

Since the dawn of humanity, women have always been bullied, dominated, and abused by men. But not anymore, with the rise of feminism in the last century or so. Day by day, more and more of their suppressed rights have returned, their stifled voices heard. Society has changed, and so has the law.

Sexual empowerment for women is getting better. But it can get funny and ugly, too.

In early March 2008, a 38-year old Japanese bikini model, popularly known by her professional name as Serena Kozakura, was facing criminal charges. But she was acquitted, for the simple reason that her breasts were big. Very big, in fact. It’s a case which proves that size DOES matter.

What happened was that she was charged for property destruction. A man accused her for kicking in the wooden door of his room, and crawled through the hole she had made. Apparently, he was with another a woman inside. No doubt, a typical love triangle, jilted feelings and revenge was thrown in the mix.

So how did her big breasts make the difference? Simple. In her appeal, her defence counsel brought a plate showing the size of the hole before the Tokyo High Court. He showed that it was impossible for her to fit through the hole with her 110cm breasts. Satisfied with such incontrovertible evidence, the court acquitted her.

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Which Are The Most Money Making Law Firms In The World?

Friday, February 15th, 2008

The Lawyer and The American Lawyer have produced a list of the Top 100 law firms globally, ordered by 2006 revenue.

It is no surprise that UK and USA firms lead the pack – with the number one firm – Clifford Chance – grossing £1,030.2 million (around RM6.5 billion).

 law-firm_high.jpg

To give you a flavour of these Top 100, we have listed the Top 10 below:

1. Clifford Chance, £1,030.2m – International law firm (headquartered in the UK)
2. Linklaters, £935.2m – International (UK)
3. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, £884.6m – New York City (USA)
4. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, £882.1m – International (UK)
5. Latham & Watkins, £776.1m – National (USA)
6. Baker & McKenzie, £742.9m – International (USA)
7. Allen & Overy, £736.3m – International (UK)
8. Jones Day, £706.0m – National (USA)
9. Sidley Austin, £617.6m – International (USA)
10. White & Case, £574.7m – International (USA)

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