Survey reveals some lawyers are considering ceasing to practice


  • Focus Premium
  • Sunday, 07 Jun 2020

NECESSARY measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic have affected all aspects of Malaysia’s economy, including the legal profession, which have taken a beating over the past few months. The crisis represents an “unprecedented and unexpected setback for the entire legal profession,” says Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir (pic).

A Bar Council survey titled “The Effects of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on Law Firm Owners of the Malaysian Bar”, which polled 844 respondents from April 10 to 20, showed that a majority of respondents (54.1%) were confident that they would not need to make any changes to their law practices.

However, 8.1% were contemplating ceasing practice altogether while 13.2% were considering closing their law practices. Some hoped to continue practising law by downsizing (41.8%) or merging their practices with others (9.5%).

The survey also revealed that 35.9% of respondents indicated that they would suffer losses of up to RM50,000 for the months between March and September 2020, while 29.5% of respondents expected to incur losses of between RM100,000 and RM500,000 in the same period.

“Whether it is in the lack of work available to law firms or existing clients cancelling and terminating work and requesting refunds of fees paid, the devastating shadow cast by this pandemic will continue to loom over us for the foreseeable future,” says Salim.

To address this, Salim says that the Bar Council has been working with the government in sourcing various types of financial assistance and relief for affected members. An ad hoc Pandemic Response Committee has also been formed.

Salim adds that moving forward, there will be a greater reliance on carrying out activities remotely and, consequently, a greater reliance on the technology that will allow for this.

The Bar Council hopes to see the enactment of special Covid-19 legislation to protect individuals, businesses and companies from the consequences of being unable to perform or fulfil their contractual obligations arising from the measures taken to curb infection rates.

The MCO was introduced on March 18 to break the chain of Covid-19 infection. The conditional MCO period, which started on May 4, is expected to end on Tuesday.

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