How has your role / involvement in client facing work changed since becoming managing partner/setting up your firm?
Client-facing work is very interesting. I enjoy engaging with clients and therefore, I split my time between client-facing work and firm management-related works. I also share the management roles with other fellow partners. Since Bun & Associates was established back in 2007, our business and our firm have evolved significantly in terms of size, diversity of practice groups, client portfolio and the competition landscape. We have grown from a firm of four staff to a team of 100 people offering legal and tax services in 14 different areas of expertise. We have been ranked as a top-tier law firm by all prestigious publications for the last 12 consecutive years. It is a true privilege for me, together with the other partners of Bun & Associates, to have been able to lead the firm to this level. It is true that I have gone through many challenges and difficult times, but it is certainly an enriching experience.
What are the biggest challenges facing firms in Asia Pacific and specifically the Cambodian legal market?
Operating in an emerging legal market such as Cambodia, our firm faces the same problems encountered by most firms in other emerging markets. Skill gap remains a serious challenge and the exposure to access international best practice is limited. Firm expansion needs to be done organically. At the same time, the legal and judicial system is still in its development stage. Therefore, local practical experience is important when advising on any transaction and a thoughtful litigation strategy needs to be planned from the outset. As there are no ready-to-use tools, we need to develop the research resource and other working tools internally. Despite all these challenges, there are interesting legal works and we have been engaged to handle many ground-breaking transactions. As Cambodia deepens its integration into regional and global economies, the size of its legal market is expected to grow, and the demand of legal service and good legal advisors will rise in tandem.
The global pandemic has clearly changed the way in which organizations tend to operate. What impact has this had on your clients and your approach to advising clients?
Helping our clients overcome their business challenges during this worldwide pandemic continues to be our prime concern. Besides the implementation of new safety and sanitation procedures, one of our key priorities from our COVID-19 response plan is to ensure that we have the technology platform to continue to provide seamless services to our clients during the pandemic. In fact, we accelerated our technology plan in order to ensure that we are not lacking. We continue to uphold our commitment to our clients to help identify areas of support most needed by them as well as opportunities that may be relevant to their business, especially in this unpredictable time. We have also implemented cross-team mobilization initiatives to address the needs of our clients in the new norm of today’s business environment. In any crisis, we should look at it as an opportunity for us to adapt, to learn and to innovate so we can become a better, value-added advisor to our clients. This is a commitment we firmly believe in.
What do you do differently from other firms? What do you think separates you from your competitors?
We are proud to have built an amazing team – that is the open secret behind Bun & Associates’ success. Our team is highly-qualified, skilful and diverse. The majority of our team members graduated from prestigious universities, we have proficiency in at least six major languages and our lawyers are qualified to practice in five different jurisdictions with both civil law and common law expertise. Bun & Associates has a robust learning and development plan guided by our development and competency framework. We take the development of our lawyers seriously and we do all we can to help them progress and navigate the career pivotal points. We emphasize on building a strong learning culture in the firm because we believe learning becomes more effective when it happens naturally and frequently. For instance, client service and relationship building are instilled into all our legal professionals from the onset of their employment and we continue to reinforce this throughout their employment career with us. Our open-door policy also allows our lawyers to have easy access to all partners, many of whom have formed natural mentor-mentee relationships. Our culture of openness is somewhat unique and is likely to be an area which distinguishes us from our peers.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
Being the largest fully-integrated firm offering legal and tax advisory services, we are the go-to firm for large and complex transactions. With our sizeable team, we are able to handle transactions under tight timeline. As the legal reform in Cambodia is being conducted at an unprecedented pace, we expect that the legal landscape will mature significantly in the next three years and beyond. As part of our commitment to remain a trusted advisor to our clients, we continue to make necessary investment in the relevant fields including new areas of expertise (some of which we have already started) so that we are ahead of the curve in order to best serve our clients’ interests. As foreign investment in Cambodia will undoubtedly grow exponentially, we will continue to assist our clients in seizing all arising opportunities and we will endlessly pursue our dedication to improve our process and efficiency through technology.