July 25, 2024


The Legal System

How a former banking credit analyst is now helping a Singapore law firm adapt for the future. An interview with Leon Lim – Asia Law Portal

Leon Lim came to law firm management from a banking background.  He now applies his unique background to helping Singapore’s Teoh & Co LLC adapt to a globally competitive legal market.  He recently told Asia Law Portal how he is going about doing this.  Here is what he said: 

What led you to a career in law firm management and legal business development?

I started off my career as a credit analyst in an international bank where I prepared credit reports as well as performed risk analysis and due diligence. I often must work closely with the bank’s legal documentation unit and external law firms which piqued my interest in the legal field.

After 10 years in the banking & finance industry, I found my calling when I was accepted by a medium size law firm as a business development manager where I eventually rose on to management role tasked with profit & loss responsibilities and formulate strategies for future long-term growth and sustainability.

Singapore is a highly competitive legal market. How does your firm differentiate itself in the market?

I constantly cerebrate on how to succeed in the business of law. From a professional service provider point of view, I ensure my team and myself are always just a whatsapp, phone call or an email away when my clients and working partners need us. We maintain timely communication and adopt a pragmatic approach to align with client’s commercial objectives

The different skillset of lawyers and role of the non-legal professionals are playing an increasingly critical role in delivering legal services. We are considering putting in resources in responding by opening up positions such as IT managers, business & finance analysts and social media marketers. In fact, I will go as far to say, this could be the only way to achieve a competitive advantage and differentiation from other rival firms in the next 5-10 years.

In fact, our firm are recently recognized as one of Singapore best law firm in the 3rd year running of The Straits Times’ and Statista’s survey 2023 edition.

What is your overall philosophy of law firm business development and marketing?

While advertising and marketing of law firm services are not frowned upon these days, we must be mindful of achieving the right balance where marketing efforts should not bring the legal profession into disrepute.

I advocate for authenticity marketing because it gives the firm an identity and makes us more relatable to potential clients. Not only do we promote our success stories, we also share our hiccups so that others could learn from our experiences.

Do you utilize online marketing? If so, what forms?

We will periodically share contents and thought leadership on our facebook and linkedin page to engage our clients and working partners. We take careful note not to make it sound like a sales pitch and focus on the audience’s interest.

How has legal technology impacted your firm?

New technology will potentially have transformational impact for existing players and new entrants on creating value, serving clients, project management and running internal processes. We are looking to create a new chief information officer role to build up a highly capable team with a strong business orientation and excellent delivery skills.

What plans do you have for the firm’s future?

In the face of intense competition and an uncertain global outlook, standing still is a luxury that few can afford. I have listed few strategies which we should embrace for future challenges:

1) Building a global mindset strategy: A universal business challenge facing law firms of all sizes is the need to gear up to support clients’ globalization efforts and the impact of emerging markets. Even firms that don’t have ambitions to extend their own footprint will have to be capable of supporting clients as they venture into new geographies.

2) Develop comfort in Chaos: Firms must learn to manage and thrive in a volatile, uncertain, complex, ad hoc (VUCA) and rapidly changing reality. Developing a “rapid response” mindset becomes a core competence

3) In an era of commoditization, intense scrutiny and rising client service expectation, process excellence is essential. This means maintaining a ruthless focus on operational quality, efficiency, transparency and cost control, with IT as a key enabler.

4) We need to rethink the talent management in the firm and prepare for radical changes in staffing profile, recruitment, retention and ongoing development.