Our story started with Kheng Hoe leaving the comforts of Penang Island to read law at University of Malaya under a scholarship from Messrs Skrine. He felt so out of place in the legal profession that upon graduation, he decided to pay back the scholarship and embarked on a year of youth work instead.
However, newspaper reports about how the Government was intending to change the pupillage period from 9 months to 2 years scared him sufficiently to return to law. He became pupil-in-chambers at Messrs Allen & Gledhill (now Messrs Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill) and proceeded to work with them for approximately a year before venturing out on his own.
The year was 1998. Kheng Hoe went from being ultra-busy to having absolutely nothing to do. With no client or work, Kheng Hoe was lured into partnership with an old school friend which turned out disastrous. One client at that time told him, “If this is how your practice is run, I don’t think we can support you any longer”. That motivated him to break off the partnership and started all over again.
In his fresh start (in 2002), Kheng Hoe started handling some minor construction disputes and found that he actually liked the work. Sure, there were lots to learn, but the interplay between legal and technical issues coupled with the overwhelming volume of documents involved was sufficient to pique Kheng Hoe’s curiosity and interest to eventually focus almost entirely on construction law.
Elsewhere, Datuk Chong Loong Men together with Lim Ban Hong, Jeremy Phang and Amy started Lim Chong Phang & Amy (“LCPA”) on 3.1.2011 with offices in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka. From being relatively unknown, they started with a bang and took on major boardroom tussles almost immediately. It was an eventful journey for all of them. Eventually, the LCPA partners went their separate ways, leaving Datuk Chong effectively as the sole driving force for LCPA Kuala Lumpur.
Datuk Chong and Kheng Hoe started out initially as opponents, and subsequently collaborated (as well as contested each other) on various files. By now, each of them was reasonably successful independently. They had different focus areas of practice. Over multiple sessions of coffee, they started wondering, “How much further can we go if we combined our efforts and strengths?” It was not a decision to be taken lightly. Kheng Hoe had been described by people who knew him well as being hard-headed and not a team player. Datuk Chong was equally dominant. Can two tigers reside in one mountain?
Perhaps that depends on the size of the mountain. And hence, the journey begins to build a mountain big enough for two (and even more) tigers to co-exist. One “tiger” that both Datuk Chong and Kheng Hoe recognised almost immediately was Amy Tan, who came on board as one of the founding partners of the firm handling Corporate matters. What started with two, almost immediately became three, and within the next few months, became four as Lynn Yang joined the partnership with a focus on adjudication.
On 1 August 2022, Datuk Chong left practice to pursue his other interests in life. However, our aspiration remains the same: to build a Partnership of Peers. Hence in 2023, Jaslyn Saw Wei Wen and Rachel Lim Han Ying, both of whom had long trained under Datuk Chong, were promoted as Partners to continue to build on the legacy that Datuk Chong left behind.
How big a mountain can we build? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, all roaring tigers are welcome for the ride.