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HHQ 22nd Year Anniversary – An Interview with Dato’ Quek Ngee Meng, Managing Partner, HHQ

As Halim Hong & Quek celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, we interviewed Dato Quek Ngee Meng, the Managing Partner of the firm to learn more and understand about the firm’s evolution and adaptation to change as well as the development of the firm’s culture over the past two decades. Dato Quek also shares with us some of the firm’s achievements over the years and its prospects for the future.  

  1. 1. On 1.10.2022, Halim Hong & Quek will be celebrating its 22nd Anniversary. How do you feel regarding this milestone and what are some of the lessons that you’ve learnt during this period of time?
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  3. I feel extremely humbled by this! HHQ is still a fairly young firm at a mere ago of 22. When the firm was established in the year 2000, the playing field in existence at that point in time was entirely different. It was the turn of the millennium and many firms were at crossroads as to whether they ought to be changing their ways to ensure that their firms remained relevant. What appeared to be tried and tested business models, were no longer sustainable models for many law firms due to the effect of changing times.
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  5. I would therefore say that HHQ was established a very crucial point in time. We were lucky enough to be able to learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes of some firms (and to ensure that we do not perform such errors) and yet at the same time appreciate the wonders that some other firms were capable of. We were able to decipher very quickly that in order to survive and flourish, it was absolutely pertinent for us to adapt, transform and refine our ways as and when necessary.
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  7. 22 years may not be a long time, but it I can say with some certainty that the greatest lesson that we’ve learnt in this time period is that the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. As the saying goes, “success is where preparation and opportunity meet”.  
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  9. 2. It is often said that the culture of a firm is a key factor in shaping the character of a firm. Please share your thoughts with us on this. It is essential for a Firm to have its own distinctive culture that the employees could identify and relate to themselves. This distinctive culture could attract like-minded talents with shared and aligned values.
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  11. Throughout these years, HHQ’s culture has been constantly evolving. We are guided by our mission to empower everybody with law, and we promise to continuously upgrade our skills and knowledge individually and as a team to facilitate the goals of our clients and also to use our legal skills to connect and assist those who are in need.
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  13. A mission is only realistic when the Firm’s values are shared by all teammates. In HHQ, certain values have been a constant such as our pledge to serve our clients with integrity, to delivery speedy services and to ensure that our deliverables are of a high quality and standard. As the Firm is growing in size, we are facing challenges in conveying and aligning the values amongst new joiners and existing employees. We are striving to overcome this challenge with compassion and determination. 
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  15. 3. Tell us about the efforts that HHQ has taken to develop its working culture in this last 22 years.
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  17. Just like all other firms that started from scratch, we were always mindful of the fact as to how important it was for a family culture to be developed within the firm. It was important for us to emphasize on the value of providing quality services in a timely and practical manner to our clients. It was also culture for our senior members of the firm to play a prominent role in provide strong stewardship to the junior lawyers and staff in the firm. This in turn would nurture young talent from the outset and it naturally would make room for the seamless operation and expansion of the firm.
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  19. The firm also adopts a culture of transparency, whereby the decision-making process is transparent. We strongly encourage participation by lawyers and key supporting staff of the firm so that we could nurture and develop a concept of a spirit of ownership within the firm. With the emphasis of these values, I am confident that HHQ can be an ideal platform to achieve excellence, calibre and potential in the Malaysian legal industry and beyond.
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  21. 4. How does HHQ implement transparency within the firm?
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  23. Involvement of all members is paramount if you want to cultivate an ideology of transparency. To get people involved, it is important that everyone is on the same page. If everyone is on the same page, then we would all share the same drive in achieving our objectives. It is really that simple.
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  25. There are many ways in which HHQ exudes its transparency. For example, we share the firm’s financial statements with all employees, twice a year, and we conduct regular townhall and briefing session to inform all levels of lawyers and staff in the firm of the progress of the firm. We practice democracy at our partnership level and partners are involved in making all major decision of the firm.
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  27. 5. On reflection, what is the important turning point for HHQ?
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  29. When the firm was established in 2000, it was established as a sole proprietorship. 19 years later, I decided to relinquish my ownership to my fellow partners. This was an easy decision for me and it was something that I had always seen coming. There was no better way for me to cherish and appreciate all the efforts of my partners than by rewarding them by having a stake in the firm. There was no additional capital contribution required from all the partners. Instead, their profit distributions would be used to pay off the portion of their allocated shares. This was a major transformation of HHQ and in turn it has provided actual ownership to the equity partners who have worked hard to build the firm to what it is now. This momentum has been continuous from 2019 and the firm has appointed more partners since. Afterall, the fundamental law of human beings is interdependence. We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about the progress and prosperity of the very same people who helped you get to where you are. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.  
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  31. Since this transformation, HHQ has successfully managed to become a full-service firm with a primary emphasis in Real Estate. HHQ has established 3 offices in the major cities of peninsular Malaysia and we have about 42 lawyers and a total of workforce of approximately 110 persons. The average age of our partners is 41, which reflects that we are a firm with talented and young energetic legal practitioners who have a strong passion to contribute to the wellbeing and betterment of the legal profession.
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  33. 6. What are your goals after retirement?
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  35. Legal services can only be provided effectively by passionate individuals who have the zest and desire to impart their talent, skills and knowledge. Unlike other industries, these traits cannot be passed on to the next generation. Hence, it is absolutely important that we acquire and retain the most talented individuals to helm HHQ and to take us to the next level.
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  37. No one can stay on forever. Hence, the Firm needs to be treated like a moving train. The passengers on the train are seemingly going to the same destination as you. Normally, based on their belief in you or their belief that the train will get them to their desired destination, they will stay on the ride or they will get off somewhere during the trip. The managing partner of a firm is akin to being the driver of the train. He steers the train until it reaches its destination. Upon arrival at the final destination, he passes on the baton to someone else to continue steering the train. In each station there will be more lawyers, employees and even clients that are boarding. Likewise, some may also choose get off the train.
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  39. In my retirement, I hope to see the Firm being led by someone who shares a similar passion for law as I do. I hope that the firm will be successful and triumphant in the years after me and will continue exceeding its expectations time and time again.  
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  41. 7. What are the main challenges that law firms and their lawyers will have to navigate/adapt to in the future?
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  43. The biggest challenge will be to strike a perfect balance between the traditional values of a legal practitioner with the need to be an entrepreneur who thinks out of the box. Innovation in the delivery of legal services is fundamental. The value of a lawyer must be emphasized at all times because our words are our bond. We are often the stakeholders and trustees who owe a fiduciary duty to our clients. Hence there must be integrity amongst lawyers.
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  45. However, this does not stop one from adopting an entrepreneurial spirit. Continuous learning and development are crucial and it is necessary to ensure that we are updated with the latest legal technological advancements at all times. HHQ has adopted numerous legal tech advancements in its day-to-day affairs so that we can be more effective and efficient in the delivery of our services to our clients. Our firm also adopts continuous learning by organizing and mandating attendance for internal seminars over and above the CPD requirements of the Malaysian Bar.
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  47. Therefore, I would say that the main challenges that lawyers would need to prepare themselves for in the future is the need to recognize and implement technological advancements in their operations and at the same time to ensure that they are always constantly learning and educating themselves. By doing this, you are indirectly embracing for the future. 
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  49. 8. Regarding the firm’s strategy to 2025, what would you like the firm to look like at that point?
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  51. We would like to build up the firm on 2 fronts primarily. Firstly, we will continue to ensure that HHQ remains to be a Real Estate specialist firm. Hence, our services will be all encompassing when it concerns matters involving land. Be it matters arising out of housing developments, offices, industrial factories, and even tourism and wellness developments, we will be at the forefront to cater to the needs of our clients. As an ancillary to this, we will also focus on providing construction related advice to our clients. Sometimes, disputes may arise in the process of construction and in such situations we will have our dispute resolution experts to handle and advice on such matters.
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  53. The other area that we would be emphasizing on is to develop HHQ as a global brand by providing one stop, seamless and integrated services to our clients. The firm is collaborating with Anderson Global which has offices in 172 country and 332 locations and we envisage that the cultural knowledge and wide ranging experience that we will benefit from this collaboration will indeed be far reaching. We are building and enhancing our lawyers’ strengths on many more practice areas that correspond to the professional services provided by the Andersen Global through proactive lateral recruitment and intensive organic growth to secure talents for the firm.
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  55. We are on track to put these two strategies into reality.
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This article is intended to be informative and not intended to be nor should be relied upon as a substitute for legal or any other professional advice.

About the Interviewer

Ankit Sanghvi


Halim Hong & Quek


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