Here are some random facts which you may not know about law firms in Peninsular Malaysia:
Did you know?
– There are over 17,000 lawyers and 7,000 law firms in Peninsular Malaysia.
Law firms are not corporate entities
– They often register as sole proprietorships, partnerships and, most recently, limited liability partnerships.
Law firms are required to have 100% Malaysian equity ownership.
– Malaysians only! Except for qualified foreign law firms which will be discussed later.
So here are 7 types of law firms generally available in Malaysia, in no particular order:
#1 Big Firms
Big firms are firms which has more than 30 lawyers. There are a total of only about 30 big firms, which make up 1% of the market.
#2 Medium-sized Firms
Medium-sized firms are often aspiring big firms. They are firms which have between 6 and 30 lawyers. There are around 552 medium-sized firms, which make up 10% of the market.
#3 Small Firms
Small firms are firms which range from sole proprietorships to partnerships/limited liability partnerships that have up to 5 lawyers. There are around 4718 firms which fall under this category and they make up a whopping 89% of the market!
#4 Boutique Firms
Contrary to popular belief, boutique firms do not deal with fashion. They are usually small and medium-sized firms (very rarely big firms) which specialize in only one or two areas of practice. They are kind of the specialist firms, if you would like.
#5 Syariah Law Firms
Syariah law firms practice only Syariah Law. Only Syariah lawyers can practice in Syariah Court. Civil lawyers are not qualified to practice Syariah Law. They often deal with matrimonial and family disputes between Muslims.
#6 International Partnership Firms
These are big local firms that are affiliated or associated or even partly owned (not more than 40%) by foreign firms. They usually deal with complex cross-border business transactions or disputes between large multinational corporations. They enjoy the benefits of having a wide range of international network and support and the lawyers working in these firms tend to get more international exposure and experiences.
#7 Qualified Foreign Law Firms
These are foreign law firms which are given license to practice in Malaysia. They are required to have at least 30% Malaysian lawyers in the firm and their areas of practice are limited mainly to cross-border transactions and international law. They cannot represent clients in Malaysian court or practice most areas of Malaysian law.
Wait a second, why are we only talking about Peninsular Malaysia? What about Sabah and Sarawak?
– Due to the 1963 Malaysian Agreement, the legal profession in Malaysia is regulated by 3 different regulatory bodies divided by geography: The Bar Council of Malaysia (for Peninsular Malaysia), the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak (for Sarawak) and the Sabah Law Association (for Sabah), all of which are governed by different laws. It is estimated that there are about 307 firms in Sabah and 280 firms in Sarawak, respectively.
– Generally, lawyers called to the Bar in Peninsular Malaysia cannot practice in Sabah and Sarawak, vice versa. This is unless the lawyers themselves have been called to the Bar in all of these separate jurisdictions. However, special exceptions do apply in exceptional cases.
We hope that this series of articles have helped you understand a little more about how legal services are provided in Malaysia so you can be more informed when engaging the services of a lawyer in the future.
If you are still unsure, that’s fine too! Find a lawyer on CanLaw and we will do all the work for you! All you need to do is to fill up a simple form and you will receive a list of quotations from various law firms with their experiences and backgrounds attached with it, then all you need to do is to pick one that suits your budget and needs.
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Disclaimer: This article is a general guide and does not constitute legal advice. You are advised to seek legal advice from a professional lawyer for your specific situation.
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