10 lessons from my 10-year eLawyer entrepreneurship journey

Eddie Law entrepreneurship

Valuable insights from guest writer Eddie Law, as he reflects on his 10-year entrepreneurship journey with eLawyer.

10 years ago, I was going through a challenging period in my legal career. One interviewer even bluntly said to me: “You change jobs like people change clothes”. Although I was very committed and worked hard, my career somehow was not going the way I wanted. I was in a state of despair, and kept asking God where I should go, and what I should do. I was upset, and felt lost.

I experienced a period of not having a stable full-time job. In the “extra free time” that I had, I started reading about e-commerce, blogging, and online businesses. I was fascinated with the power of the internet and the endless possibilities it offered. I started my own blog and exploring what opportunties there were online.

One day, the idea came to me to build a website as an online resource for Malaysian lawyers — this was how eLawyer.com.my was born, in November 2007!

To mark the 10-year anniversary of the launch of eLawyer (my co-founder was another tech entrepreneur, Larry Lam), I would like to share 10 things I have learned over this decade-long entrepreneurship journey:

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“Law for Startups” featured in The Edge

Look out for a full-page feature on my book “Law for Startups: What You Need to Know When Starting a Business” in this week’s The Edge!

Here are some screenshots from the digital edition.

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Announcing my new book “Law for Startups”—available in all major bookstores!

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I’m delighted to announce that my new book Law for Startups: What You Need to Know When Starting a Business will be available in all major bookstores from January 2017.

I’ve worked very hard together with my publisher, MPH Group Publishing, on this book throughout 2016, and the entire process—from ideation, to securing the publishing deal, writing the manuscript and sending it through the rigorous editorial process, through to the book design resulting in the end product that will be in stores—took less than a year.

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5 dangerous intellectual property mistakes that might kill your startup

This post by Chua Sher Hann is the first-ever guest-post on The Malaysian Lawyer.

image - 5 dangerous intellectual property mistakes that might kill your startup

The last few years saw a proliferation of startups in Malaysia. You can eat your Dah Makan lunchbox, then GrabCar to your KFit class decked in your Ash Be Nimble active wear. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or the founder of a fresh startup, you must be extremely careful when navigating the intellectual property minefield, and not overlook the importance of securing the intellectual property rights of your business.

Unless you’re someone like Jeffri Cheong of Kaodim (who was an intellectual property lawyer prior to co-founding the services platform which recently raised USD 4 million in its Series A round) and already have a solid understanding and knowledge of intellectual property, please read on.

Here are five common intellectual property mistakes that startup founders make.

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Draw your own map

Sometimes, you need to ignore what the world tells you.

The world — family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and people you may never speak to more than once — often have good intentions, but most of them speak the language of conformity.

Of the known.

Of their knowns.

Often, to the world, the best path is the path they themselves took. As if life was that simple, that dull — everyone taking the same path.

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How startups can strive for clarity in contracts

This post is a part of a series based on my Law for Startups workshop at MaGIC in September 2015. It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders. You can access the slides here.

Read the earlier posts for context:

  1. Law for startups in Malaysia — building on the best foundations.
  2. The legal landscape in Malaysia for startups — a hybrid of traditional corporate practices and Silicon Valley models.
  3. Choosing the right business vehicle for your startup or small business in Malaysia.
  4. When should a startup hire a lawyer?
  5. Oversights which could destroy your startup or small business.
  6. The dangers of using “standard” or template legal documents.

A couple of posts ago, I explained the importance of bringing all the issues to the surface when reviewing contracts. This post will explain how to strive for clarity in contracts.

Turn to clear image.
Turn to clear vision.

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The dangers of using “standard” or template legal documents

This post is a part of a series based on my Law for Startups workshop at MaGIC in September 2015. It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders. You can access the slides here.

Read the earlier posts for context:

  1. Law for startups in Malaysia — building on the best foundations.
  2. The legal landscape in Malaysia for startups — a hybrid of traditional corporate practices and Silicon Valley models.
  3. Choosing the right business vehicle for your startup or small business in Malaysia.
  4. When should a startup hire a lawyer?
  5. Oversights which could destroy your startup or small business.

Template and automated legal documents are increasing in popularity.

For years there have been many websites offering standard contracts for download. Most of these have a US/European law focus, but the past couple of years have seen some similar services launched in Asia.

Some of these websites offer a very comprehensive collection of legal documents which address the needs of startups and small businesses in particular — everything from NDAs to equity investment agreements are available for download, usually with a fee.

Say no to cookie-cutter contracts.
Say no to cookie-cutter contracts.

My cover slide for this part of the workshop reads: “Be very very very very careful when using standard contracts” — I’m not sure whether I should have added a few more ‘very’s to statement.

Business owners should be extremely cautious when using these legal documents.

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