ANALYSIS. As early as January 29, WALK WITH US went to town ahead of others with news about the vanquished exit of Cecil Abraham from Messrs. Shearn Delamore.

The news is now proven true by The Straits Times of Singapore, dated 14 April 2007.

This is what we wrote about three months ago, asking you not to trust us then, but we assured you “time will be the better judge for truth”.

Cecil Abraham, 59, who is lead counsel for NSTP et.al. (in the defamation suits against bloggers Rocky and Jeff Ooi), has recently resigned from Shearn Delamore after his proposal to merge the legal firm with another medium-size law firm was rejected by the junior partners.

Cecil has a brother, Wilfred, as a senior partner in Zul Rafique & Partners. Rumour is rife that Cecil may take the NSTP defamation cases against bloggers to his new law firm, along with his son Sunil and legal assistant Rishwant Singh.

Don’t trust us 100% for now. Time will be the better judge for truth.

And truth dawned us. This is what Straits Times’ KL correspondent Leslie Lopez wrote:

Datuk Abraham, who is widely regarded as one of the country’s top litigation lawyers, caused a stir in Kuala Lumpur’s clubby legal fraternity when he resigned from Shearn Delamore three months ago as a result of differences with his other partners over the firm’s direction.

His break with the firm that he had been attached to for over three decades prompted speculation that his departure could presage more resignations from the law practice and the loss of several large clients.

According to lawyers close to the situation, Shearn Delamore has not suffered any haemorrhage in business or personnel since Datuk Abraham, 60, submitted his resignation.

According to several senior lawyers, Datuk Abraham (who leaves the firm at the end of July) is expected to join Zul Rafique and Partners.

Isn’t it about time Cecil Abraham looked at his expiry date as a money-earner lawyer, the byname for legal vultures? Only fools like Kalimullah will get him fight the bloggers on the Internet-related case!

How wishful too, if Cecil had thought that by currying flavour with Kalimullah could help him land more government-related work!

If you read Leslie Lopez, who quoted several senior lawyers, after joining Zul Rafique and Partners, Cecil Abraham could violate a ‘restraint of trade’ clause in the partnership agreement with Shearn Delamore, which restricts him from practising within the Kuala Lumpur geographical area for two years.

And NSTP’s suits against Rocky and Jeff Ooi are being heard in the Kuala Lumpur High Court!

Johari may help check fall-out from resignation of firm’s managing partner

By Leslie Lopez, South-east Asia Correspondent
The Straits Times

ONE of Malaysia’s most established law firms is set to draft the younger brother of Deputy Premier Najib Razak into the partnership in a bid to fill the vacuum created by the resignation of managing partner Cecil Abraham.

Kuala Lumpur lawyers familiar with the situation say Shearn Delamore & Co is holding talks with Datuk Johari Razak to return as a senior partner. He was a partner in the firm before leaving in the mid-1990s to pursue business interests.

The lawyers say that Datuk Johari could rejoin the firm as early as August.

Datuk Abraham, who is widely regarded as one of the country’s top litigation lawyers, caused a stir in Kuala Lumpur’s clubby legal fraternity when he resigned from Shearn Delamore three months ago as a result of differences with his other partners over the firm’s direction.

His break with the firm that he had been attached to for over three decades prompted speculation that his departure could presage more resignations from the law practice and the loss of several large clients.

According to lawyers close to the situation, Shearn Delamore has not suffered any haemorrhage in business or personnel since Datuk Abraham, 60, submitted his resignation.

But they note that the move to get Datuk Johari on board the partnership appears aimed at countering any adverse impact from the veteran lawyer’s departure.

Datuk Johari did not respond to requests for comment. Datuk Abraham, who leaves the firm at the end of July, was also unavailable for comment.

The developments at Shearn Delamore are being watched closely by lawyers on both sides of the Causeway because the firm’s roster of clients includes several top corporations and wealthy individuals in Malaysia and Singapore.

Datuk Abraham was one of Shearn Delamore’s biggest income-earners and he holds the rare distinction of having acted as counsel for two prime ministers.

He was appointed lead counsel by Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in the late 1980s when the then premier sued Malaysia’s Star Publications for defamation.

Datuk Abraham also acted as counsel for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2000 in a case in which the former Malaysian premier resisted moves by his political nemesis Anwar Ibrahim to have him testify as a witness in the latter’s corruption trial.

According to several lawyers close to the situation, tension within the Shearn Delamore partnership surfaced about eight months ago when Datuk Abraham proposed plans aimed at expanding the firm’s client base, particularly by attracting more government-related work.

Datuk Abraham proposed that Shearn Delamore merge with Zul Rafique and Partners, a mid-sized Kuala Lumpurbased firm that is a major beneficiary of government-related legal business. But that plan was turned down by a majority of the Shearn Delamore partners, leading to strained relations in the partnership.

Several senior Kuala Lumpur lawyers say that Datuk Johari’s appointment could help check any slide in earnings resulting from Datuk Abraham’s departure.

‘Johari isn’t the top litigator that Cecil is,’ says a senior Kuala Lumpur lawyer who knows both men well.

‘But he will bring other strengths to the partnership, such as networking and helping market the firm,’ he added, pointing to Datuk Johari’s strong political and business affiliations.

Shearn Delamore’s testy ties with Datuk Abraham are not expected to end soon.

According to several senior lawyers, Datuk Abraham is expected to join Zul Rafique and Partners. But that move could violate a ‘restraint of trade’ clause in the partnership agreement with Shearn Delamore which restricts him from practising within the Kuala Lumpur geographical area for two years.

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