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In Malaysia, other than practicing as sole proprietorships, many firms operate on a Partnership
structure because these are the only way lawyers are permitted to operate. Hence they (partners)
are depending on each other in making decisions and this occasionally makes it difficult to run or
manage the firm.

In managing a law firm, knowing the law and the practice area is essential. Then we should think
how to manage the firm or our practice in the best way that are acceptable by our noble
profession, that will make us happy in practice and lastly of course to generate more income/

How to start running a law office/ firm

i. Sole proprietor
ii. Partnership

What type of work you shall do?

As a good lawyer and a professional person you should plan your work and normally choose the
work that you are happy to do. You also should consider the remuneration aspect. As a person
we know our strength and weakness so we must be careful in dealing with something that we are
not expert into and normally people will choose not to do what they are not expert into.

In the profession also we need to see on the aspect of potential clients. What type of clients we
can have or likely to have? And can we handle this type of client with the knowledge or expertise
that we have? However expertise can be develop as we (lawyers) know the basic law already.
Only that sufficient time is needed to build up our firm reputation and our own interests.

Time management

Time management is very important as we only have 24 hours in a day and no matter how hard
we work and we try to work we can’t increase the time.

File Management

2.2.1. Opening a file

When a client walks in for consultation this often leads to a warrant to act / contract of retainer -
 scope of work
 the team

 our commitment
 our fees
 billings
 withdrawal and termination
 individual client – retainer to be signed in your presence
 corporate client – resolution of the Board of Directors
 conflict of interest -r 3,4,5 27 LP (P& E) R 1978

2.2.2Maintaining a file

 Design of the files and file cover – different colours for different category of work e.g.
Conveyancing – green, litigation – red etc.
 Separate correspondence, documents, accounts and perhaps another for drafts.
 On opening a file – registration no. / file ref. no. – important for tracing files
 Minutes – court dates, conversations with clients, opposing Solicitors, followed up with
mail confirming conversation.


1. Organising your work

a. Ability to prioritise
b. Ability to delegate
c. Ability to keep your work area and the file tidy

2. Filing system

d. Filing cabinets – referencing system. Importance of returning file to proper folder.

e. Folder: correspondence, pleadings, documents, drafts, authorities, vouchers/receipts,
notes, minutes
f. All filing should be done chronologically, in accordance with the date it was sent and
the date it was received.

Documents – Internal documents

a. Minute sheet
b. Note to file
c. Telephone memo
d. Memorandum clear, accurate, precise so that anyone reading it
will be able to understand it easily.
External Documents
e. Letters
f. Facsimile
g. Undertakings

h. Electronic mail- important to understand the implications of e-mail – NOT
confidential. Can be easily copied/ altered/ forwarded/ vulnerable to interception.
Always keep a printed file copy. Keep it brief.

i. Short description of your instructions and background of facts write to inform
ii. Summary of your views NOT impress
iii. Reasoning
iv. Keep analysis short and clear
v. Be measured in what you cited

3. Diary –

Remember to:
 Keep all appointments and court engagements in a well-managed diary
 Review it each day so that you are not taken by surprise
 Look not only at what the diary has in store for you the following day, but also note what is
scheduled for the following week

4. KIV system –

Represents work in progress to be reviewed every month- should also be entered in the KIV
diary and vetted accordingly to avoid – ‘sleeping’ on files.

5. Deadlines –

Learn to keep strict deadlines. Don’t get into the habit of asking for extensions of time

6. Confidentiality (rule 35 of the LPA (P& E) R 1978)

Prince Jefri Bolkiah v KPMG (a firm) [1991] 1 All ER 517
Koch Shipping Inc v Richards Butler (a firm) [2002] 2 AER (Comm) 957
Rakusen v Ellis Munday & Clarke [1912] 1 Ch 831
D & J Constructions Pty Ltd v Head & Ors (trading as Clayton Utz) (1987) 9 NSWLR 118

7. Accounts
- Disbursements and clients’ account
- Master file with accounts clerk.
- Individual file to have copies of all receipts, bills, vouchers etc.

8. Closing a file

Client’s instructions & Billing

Registered as a ‘Closed File & Stored

9. Authority to sign
Letters, faxes, opinions, court documents- Bar Council Rulings

Original notes is prepared by Madam Gita