Welcome to F.timber's brand new interview series, Young and Successful! In this series of written interviews, we will focus on sharing the stories of the aspiring young women of Malaysia, celebrating their successes and hopefully, inspire some of the readers.
Our pilot episode features Tiffany Chee, Managing Partner of Chee, Krishnan & Associates, a legal firm in TTDI, Selangor.
FT: Hello Tiffany, thank you for doing this interview with us! Tell us more about yourself.
Tiffany: I’m Tiffany Chee. 28 years old this year. I am currently the Managing Partner in
Chee, Krishnan & Associates and I have five years of experience in the legal field.
I mainly focus on civil litigation and some corporate advisory work.
FT: Is becoming a lawyer your childhood dream? Why did you choose law? What are your biggest challenges being a lawyer?
Tiffany: To be honest, becoming a lawyer was not my childhood dream. Initially, I wanted to be a Pharmacist or Nutritionist since I was young. Back then, we were so hyped up with the ideology of “being in the Science Stream”. I do think that these professions are noble and gentle.
Meanwhile, society has always perceived lawyers as outspoken, materialistic, and few other connotations. As such, I always thought the legal profession is an almost impossible profession to venture into. But deep down, I knew I’ve always wanted to speak up and take lead, despite lacking the courage to do so.
Be that as it may, as I grow older and with the right social circle and friends around me, the courage in me has been unleashed and I became more talkative and gained the confidence to explore and read law.
I took up law as I felt like my memorizing skills were great and I perceive myself as a very hardworking student, and therefore I was well equipped. However, upon entering my law degree, everything changed. Contrary to popular belief, I came to realize that law is not just about memorizing. There is no doubt that memorizing is important, but analytical skills prevails, and it is of utmost importance for the legal profession.
Chee & Associate's first location, in Cheras. Image courtesy of Tiffany Chee.
Photo of Tiffany and her colleagues.
FT: That's inspiring. Tell us, how do you start your day?
Tiffany: I make it a habit to wake up in the morning and jot down a to-do-list on my notebook with a scheduled time. I hit the gym and head to office thereafter. It is unfortunate that due to the pandemic and restrictions imposed thereof, I have went on a hiatus for a while.
Gladly now that the gyms are reopened, I’m restarting the routine and with the determination to mould myself into a better person. I aspire to exercise every morning and try to find time for the evenings with the goal to be healthier and fit.
FT: You lead an active lifestyle! Now, tell us three words to describe yourself as a person.
Tiffany: Full of surprise.
FT: What are your outside interests?
Tiffany: I love sports. I love going outdoors and meeting new people. I love to hear and listen from people. Understanding perspectives of different individuals. It is my principle to listen to people and it is very important to me that my conversations with people should be reciprocal. Speak and listen. Balance them 😉
Chee on work-life balance: Always organize and list your tasks properly.
FT: That's amazing! As both a firm partner and law practicer, your day must be packed full of activities. What is your secret to maintaining work and life balance?
Tiffany: I can’t emphasize enough. Schedule your time properly. Not in a rigid way, but buffer some extra time in your schedule for some unforeseen circumstances. Organizing to do lists and time schedule is so underrated. But it is definitely useful to maintain a work life balance. I have a schedule for my work as well as allocated time for leisure activities. It really helps to maximize and utilise your time.
FT: It is a well-known fact that law schools are incredibly tough and can be extremely stressful. But we are here to ask, what do you like most about attending law school?
Tiffany: To be able to meet many wonderful individuals and seeing/witnessing/acquiring different perspectives in and of life.
FT: Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation/client.
Tiffany: I once had a client came yelling and threatened me when the client was clearly at fault on his own. I was angry, hurt, and felt the urgency to defend myself.
In spite of that, I took some time to calm down and analyse the issue rationally. What harm would it bring if I just fulfil this request of the client even if it is absurd. Sometimes, you might feel like at the losing side, but if it minimizes any unwanted and unnecessary damages, there’s actually nothing to lose.
My key take on this is that it is extremely important to analyse the situation rationally. Look ahead. Avoid making any decisions when you are angry, panic, or hurt.
Tiffany in her new firm, in TTDI with her colleagues.
F.timber: Can you share with us your secret of stress management?
Tiffany: I believe managing stress can be trained. I’m blessed to have been trained to do so since I was young. Let's look at an example here:
Firstly, I identify the problem. Then I ask myself, can the problem be solved?
If it can be resolved, then focus on solving it, instead of getting stressed up, angry or putting the blame on others. Move forward to solve the problem. Do not dwell in the problem and aggravate the situation.
It the problem cannot be solved, take a step back.
Take some time off. Then, revisit the issue and think again. Are you sure it can’t be solved? If needed, seek guidance from someone you trust. Eventually, you will figure out and understand that no problems can never be solved unless you don't want it to be solved. If there’s a will, there’s a way!
FT: What are two pieces of advice you would give to young girls who are aspiring to be a lawyer like you?
Tiffany: Keep striving when you are young. Keep trying and explore possibilities and opportunities to learn. Don’t take things for granted. Have some fun, get wasted (reasonably, lol). You might feel suffocating and struggling in your studies, but it will all be worth it after that!
FT: Let's talk about the pandemic, which is still on-going. How has the pandemic affected you / your business?
Tiffany: The pandemic had slowed down the pace of life and I realised how important an organized routine is. During MCO 1.0, most of our work had slowed down and we were not able to go to work as usual. My biological clock was disrupted as I was spending my days away without looking at the time. This was where I realised how important a routine and proper schedule are in order to be more disciplined in your life.
For business matters, I am grateful for my teammates who were very understanding as to the difficult circumstances that we were going through. Eventually, we picked it up again and continued the operation after MCO 1.0.
FT: Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Tiffany: In 5 years’ time, I’m driven to sharpen and enhance my drafting skills and advocacy skills. At the same time, I’m determined to be a great and sensible leader to lead my team. I aspire to provide a healthy and positive environment for the firm to work in. It is my strong belief that a healthy and great working environment is what will keep the employees in the firm grounded, strong, and constantly improving themselves for the betterment of the firm.
FT: Bonus question: What is your favourite Starbucks order?
Tiffany: Americano for the win. 😉
Tiffany picks the latest F.timber Plaid Collection's Ivan Bag.
FT: Alright, that is all the questions we had today! Truly insightful and we wish you all the best in your career.
Tiffany: Thank you for having me.