You’ve read about The CAstle, now meet its king.
If I asked you what a lawyer looked like, you’ll either imagine the suit-wearing smooth-talker, or the wig-wearing barrister. For my case, I would imagine the cast of “Ally McBeal” (just typing that made me feel old).
Now, if I brought you to meet Chris Tan (with his wardrobe choices that I would describe as “loud”) and told you he was a lawyer, would you – or in this case, could you – believe me?
“When people see other lawyers, they automatically give them respect; I walk in and they say, ‘you sure you’re a lawyer-ah?’”
Chris Tan is the founder and managing partner of Chur Associates, and is the man to look to with regards to the local property scene. Being well-versed on the subject, he has various speaking and writing engagements covering legal trends and implications, and has written books on the subject as well.
Quite the achievements for a man who is just one year shy of 40.
Look past his “loud” appearance, and you find a man with a strong work ethic and more sagely words than men decades older. His extensive use of metaphors certainly cement the latter. If you’ve read our tour of the CAstle, you will find that each room and prop is built and placed for a reason. This extends to Chris’ own person.
“A lot of people think lawyers should be boring, but I think lawyers should be good communicators first. Be who you are!”
Take his eyewear for instance. Chris boasts a collection of about 30 pairs of spectacles, and wears a different one every day. His reasoning behind it?
“There are blind spots to spectacles – and by me changing to a different pair, I’m eliminating the blind spots of yesterday. What I cannot see today, I know I can see tomorrow.”
Have to admit, this may have nudged me to consider wearing spectacles.
It’s funny how one choice creates large ripples on one’s life, and for Chris, it’s becoming a lawyer – more specifically, one specialising in real estate and property.
“My father told me not to be a businessman like him; be a professional instead. That was his idea. My science isn’t good, so I can’t be a doctor or engineer, and accounting is out of the question since my math isn’t that good either. I have good oratory skills, and lawyers need to be good orators, so here I am!”
Chris also had an artistic streak when he was younger, being involved in school plays as the production and set designer.
Lawyers generally don’t aspire to be in real estate, which is an open opportunity for Chris. “The last thing lawyers want to become is a property lawyer – it’s a pride thing. My first choice was actually to be a corporate lawyer, brushing shoulders with the rich and famous, but it’s not easy to get in. When I started, I realised that real estate is the largest investment in your life. So can you take it lightly? I can still rub shoulders with the rich and famous – they still buy assets!”
He admits that his services come at a premium, but that higher asking price gets you quality service. “I think I should show the world why this (a good property lawyer) is important. You paid a lot of money for the house, don’t skimp on the legal side.”
Chris also pokes fun at the legal profession, mocking the cliches you often see in procedurals. “Sadly, this doesn’t happen in real life. There’s no stenographer, so your oratory flow will be interrupted by the judge recording your response, so there’s no ‘oomph’. All the delays and postponements are also frustrating.”
Step into his office,and you will find his achievements on display. But none are as significant as the one shaped like a small medal. The item in question is a FIABCI (International Real Estate Federation) Medal of Honor, awarded to Chris in 2010. Out of the half dozen awarded to Malaysians, Chris is its youngest recipient.
Great things really do come in small packages.
Chris espouses transparency and accountability, which is why he designed his office to feature mostly glass panels.
All my clients will know I am here. I have always been closest to the door.
A convex mirror at the ground floor serves a dual purpose – it lets Chris know who’s within the premises, and it conversely lets guests know that Chris is present. This, according to him, builds trust, which was crucial when he started the firm when he was 27.
Further building on that trust is the firm’s name, which is a registered trademark. “I’m committed to develop this as a brand. [The trademark means] you are safe with me.”
Unlike most, Chris never did shake off his creative flair when he embarked on the legal profession. In fact, he did the exact opposite – he embraced it, as evidenced from his choice of clothing and the design of his office. If you’ve read our tour of the CAstle, you will see that the firm is a departure from the common depiction of legal firms – it isn’t bare and solemn, but modern and dare I say it, “fun”.
Interacting with Chris, and being in the CAstle is a refreshing lesson about not judging books by their covers. Look past the cool aesthetic and the loud wardrobe, you will find a man who is passionate and driven to give you the best service. So next time if you need help on property matters, or if you’re just curious, you can either find him in his CAstle, or just go through his Facebook profile, of which he is an avid and active user.
Oh, if you do visit the premises, do stop by the giant picture frame. ◆
Stand a chance to WIN an autographed book by Chris Tan! Details are below. To participate, log on to UPPRE’s Facebook page for more info.