Unlike the dour vibe prevails in traditional law firms, JC Legal’s chic, artsy open workspace makes people feel at ease.
But it’s more than meets the eye but the epitome of JC Legal’s company culture and team spirit, explained Janice Chew, Founder and Principal of JC Legal. “There’s no room for miscommunications, in mentality or in practical.”
No barrier to breakthrough, too. JC Legal also takes a corporate structure instead of the industry-common partnership. “I founded JC Legal with the hope to do things I’m interested in my own way,” said Janice. “It’s all about survival in this business world, but there’re more things I want to do than caring about the interest of stakeholders.”
With a bold commitment to empower and reshape the business community, backed by sound legal knowledge and creativity, the startup law firm not only survived the pandemic in just five years since its establishment, but has earned applause for its original, visionary initiatives. This includes Bronze – HSBC Living Business SDG Award 2021 (Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth), seven accolades at the Globee® Business Awards in 2022, and the HKCSS Caring Company recognition, among others.
|Founded by Janice Chew in 2018, JC Legal is a law firm that specialises in cross-border commercial law, dispute resolution and regulatory compliance, with business covering Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, and UK. They also provide professional consulting on venture capital financing and corporate law for small and medium enterprises and start-ups. In the process of development, JC Legal has applied multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs), including SDG 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth”, SDG 9 “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”, and SDG 10 “Reduced Inequalities”, which is worth learning by other professionals.
With 16 years of legal experience in Malaysia and Hong Kong, and established network with legal and corporate professionals in the Greater China region, ASEAN, UK, Europe and US, Janice advises extensively on cross-border matters, with focus on mergers and acquisitions and commercial litigation. She was a winner of the LexisNexis’s “40 under 40” recognition in 2022.
From where her creativity comes, we wondered. “The desire of your heart makes all your plans succeed,” stated Janice.
It’s by no means an exaggeration to say the initiatives of JC Legal are heartfelt – and compassion-oriented, for example, the Startup Steward Programme, a service originated by Janice when she founded the company in 2018. “JC Legal was founded in 2018, during the ‘tide of startups’; no one knows better than us, a startup ourselves, about the importance of sustainable income. So I asked myself: ‘What can I do for other startups?’” There the Programme was born, to offer legal support to startups or SMEs at a reasonable monthly rate, which helped over 100 high growth companies with convenient, worry-free business planning, while the JC Legal team also benefited from stable income and experience.
And the same thoughtfulness led to the launch of Virtual Legal Clinic in 2020, an idea Janice came up with, when the pandemic first hit Hong Kong and people were literally bound at home. The Clinic provides legal consultation via video meeting, charged by time segments. Janice further extended her help donating 20% of profit made from the service to Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre. “I hope that, through this modernised service, the general public would get to know better how easy and helpful legal services are in our daily life – just go online! And it’s not just criminals who seek help from lawyers.” Janice giggled.
The people- and community-oriented mentality reflects in the employee benefits of JC Legal, which include the reimbursement of fitness or sports class expenses, and the provision of individual and team coaching for the staff to pursue personal development goals that echoes to the Mental Health Workplace Charter. Janice also constantly encourages her colleagues to pursue continuing studies: “A secretary of mine, who has worked for the company for 8-9 years, is now equipped with a corporate secretary licence and LLB degree under my encouragement. I always tell everyone to get out of the comfort zone for further professional development.”
In 2020, the law firm participated in the Pre-release Employment Scheme of the Correctional Services Department through an original project ‘More than Meet the Eyes – Diversity and Inclusion’. “Under the scheme, a young person in custody (PIC) worked here as an administrative assistant for six months.” Janice admitted that the act was ‘rare’ in the industry. “Rare indeed. Our industry is all about integrity and image. The type of position we could offer is also very limited because we, for sure, have to comply with the Legal Practitioners Ordinance.”
How was the reaction of the team? “I’d of course contemplated the feelings and worries about the project before putting it into practice – but I always think a decision maker is the one who turns advocacy, say, equal opportunities of employment in this case, into action. I hope that more and more people would understand all the PICs need is not just a job, but an opportunity to be accepted into new life, and what we did could act as a powerful catalyst for change within the industry and in society as a whole.”
JC Legal is also supporting the employment of persons with special educational needs (SEN) and autism through the LoveXpress Foundation Limited. “One thing I want to highlight is that,” Janice reminded, “Inclusiveness is not just about ‘heart’ or good intentions. SMEs should plan ahead in manpower and work flow before the implementation and adaptation (to change) of inclusive policies. Inclusion is a long-term responsibility; you should mull it over before making the change.”
[Customer supplier relationship]
Looking forward, Janice hoped that the brand will continue to offer what the clients truly need. For example, laws and regulations related to green tech, green finance and green funding is now the trend and Janice considered it a must for the company to keep abreast of the gravitation. “To support the course of global sustainability development with our expertise, we hope that we’d grow a team which specialises in green-related legal practice, starting from one trained lawyer within 3 years.”
To keep up with trends beyond the industry, JC Legal is also hosting a monthly themed networking event, Bring Your Own Buddy, that brings corporate clients and their connections from any sectors together for themed discussion and mingling. “It all started from an idea of our colleague. It’s not intended to be a business development initiative for ourselves; it is a chance to let our clienteles meet each other and explore business opportunities. We’ll also benefit from the exchange of industry knowledge and trends, therefore being able to prepare ourselves well to offer insightful, best-fitting solutions and services for our clienteles.” There are also Talk the Talk seminars, where industry leaders and entrepreneurs would be invited to share their startup journey and knowledge through themed presentations and an in-depth Q&A session. “I believe that sharing is caring,” Janice concluded. “Only with an open heart to share knowledge could we build a healthy, sustainable business ecosystem.”
In 2021, JC Legal received the Silver Award of HSBC Living Business Awards (Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth). The Living Business Awards was established in 2004 and organized by HSBC. Partner organizations include The Hong Kong Council of Social Service, Business Environment Council Limited, and Policy for Sustainability Lab (under the Centre for Civil Society and Governance at The University of Hong Kong). The Living Business Awards aims to promote and encourage local SMEs to integrate ESGs and the SDGs into their daily operations, thereby enhancing their competitiveness and productivity.
 Legal Practitioners Ordinance 53 (3): No solicitor or foreign lawyer shall, in connection with his practice as a solicitor or foreign lawyer, without written permission of the Society, which may be given for such period and subject to such conditions as the Society may think fit, employ or remunerate any person, who, to his knowledge, has been convicted of a criminal offence involving dishonesty.