by Choo Dee Wei
Published December 2, 2018
It is a Wednesday morning. The temperature is just right. You are awaken by a knock on the door. You slowly get out of bed to answer. When you open the door, you are greeted by a man in his 20s. He appears to be in a Pos Malaysia uniform. He flashes a smile and says your name. He asks you to confirm. You do so and the next thing you are asked to sign some acknowledgment for a letter. You comply. The man leaves, you close your door and you open the letter.
The letter is from a law firm stating that they are representing a company you know, let’s call it Company X. In the letter, it is also stated that you owe a substantial amount of money to Company X.
You are jolted awake. Thousands of thoughts and questions are running in your mind. However, one question surfaces, “What do I do now?”.
You pick up your phone and call your best friend. You tell your friend what happened. You verbalized your question. With bated breath, you wait for an answer. Your friend suggests that you find a lawyer. Your friend gives a name and a contact. You thank your friend.
Immediately, you call Miss Lawyer, fix an appointment on the same day and in fact within the hour. Miss Lawyer promises to meet and you then go to the scheduled venue, which is a café near to home.
You order a cup of coffee and sip on it nervously while waiting. Miss Lawyer appears. First impression, she looks sharp in her suit and she walks with confidence. She proceeds to introduce herself, shakes your hand, flashes her name card and you keep it. Pleasantries are exchanged before you then detail your concerns and you then show the letter you received. Miss Lawyer asks several questions and sets out the options available. You feel immensely comforted. As such, you and Miss Lawyer agree on the terms of engagement for her to be your lawyer.
The above scenario is one of many on how one would engage a lawyer. However, is Miss Lawyer an actual lawyer?
Websites can be created. Name cards can be printed. Suits can be bought. As lawyers, there are no “identification cards” to show that we are lawyers. However, in order for lawyers to practise law they must have a valid Sijil Annual and Practising Certificate. These two documents are indication that your lawyer is an actual lawyer.
However, if you feel that requesting to sight your lawyer’s Sijil Annual and Practising Certificate might be a tad too intrusive, you may go to the Malaysian Bar Website at www.malaysianbar.org.my. Once you are at the site, click on the “Directories” tab which is located between the “About Us” and “News/Notice”. Under the “Directories” tab, you have the option of choosing “Find A Lawyer” or “Find A Law Firm”. Choose either one depending on the information you have. The results will display several important aspects about your lawyer. Her name, when she was admitted as an advocate and solicitor, the firm she is currently practising in as well as details of the said firm.
As online results may take time to be updated, you may also wish to write or email to the Bar Council’s Membership Department to ascertain whether your lawyer is in fact a qualified practising lawyer.
There would be less anxiety and issues if you have a certified and practising lawyer.