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Bridging legal services

Published in The Star | 1 October 2015

(From left) Leong, Japanese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa and TMI Associates co-founding partner Eizo Matsuo toasting to the new partnership.

AS Japan remains one of Malaysia’s biggest trading partners, two law firms from both countries have entered into a formal association with one another.

Recently, Chooi & Company of Malaysia and TMI Associates of Japan signed an agreement of the association, believed to be the first between law firms from both countries.

The association between the two law firms was formalised at a cocktail reception that saw the attendance of top corporate figures.

Both firms say the idea of the association was reflective of the globalised world and that their aim was to provide professional legal services to meet the increasingly complex and international demands of the marketplace.

Akinobu Miyoshi of TMI Associates said the association provides the opportunity for both law firms to collaborate in practice development and enhance the provision of legal services across Asia, including in Malaysia and Japan.

“There are a lot of Japanese companies doing business in Malaysia and likewise many Malaysian companies are dealing with Japanese companies. Both will need legal assistance.

The association between our law firms present a convenient option to and perhaps meet the needs of these companies and businesses,” he said.

Japan is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner after China and Singapore.

In 2014, total trade between both countries was reported to be RM137.5bil – exports totalled RM82.71bil while imports totalled RM54.75bil.

To-date, Japanese investments in Malaysia totalled RM101bil in the manufacturing sector, leading to employment of some 450,000 people.

Chooi & Company managing partner Christopher Leong said that globalisation comes with the inevitable liberalisation of services and this has resulted in changes to the legal landscape where the ability to provide legal services across borders and jurisdictions is becoming the new norm or a necessity in this age.

“Malaysia has moved progressively from primary industries to manufacturing into a technology and financial services economy.

“As Malaysia progresses in terms of its economy, globalisation is not just a matter of finance, investments or trade in goods, but also involves the provision of legal services.

“The proposed advent of the Asean Economic Community underscores the need to be at least regional in our outlook,” he said.

“It’s not enough to confine ourselves to our own backyard.

“The reality is that demands for our legal services stretch beyond Malaysia for us and beyond Japan for TMI,” he added.

Raphael Tay (in striped tie) and Chooi Mun Sou (right) from Chooi & Company with other guests at the cocktail reception. Photos: IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

Both Chooi & Company and TMI Associates are full-service law firms with experience in corporate and commercial advisory, mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, infrastructure and projects, real property transactions, intellectual property, litigation and arbitration to name but a few.

Leong said that Malaysian firms have collaborations with firms from United Kingdom, Australia, France, Spain, China and South Korea among others.

“These collaborations are both formal and informal. These are expected to increase in the future,” he said.

TMI Associates is Japan’s fifth largest law firm, with its headquarters in Tokyo and offices in other countries such as China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Leong said the association would also enable their firm to provide legal services across Asia.

He also said both firms shared many common values especially in terms of professional outlook and work ethics.

Reproduced from The Star
Published in The Star on 1 October 2015

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