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Michael Chin, Head of Asia Practice at Lewis Holdway Lawyers

2 September 2015

The article at a glance

For Michael Chin, building bridges is an integral part of establishing a truly global business. On paper, Michael Chin, Head of Asia …

Category: Insight

For Michael Chin, building bridges is an integral part of establishing a truly global business.


On paper, Michael Chin, Head of Asia Practice at Lewis Holdway Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia, is a globetrotting, high-powered lawyer. His impressive CV is littered with all the names you’d expect: stints at Accenture and PricewaterhouseCoopers and an MBA at CJBS.

But Chin (Cambridge MBA 1996) says that his career to date has been as much about making connections as it has been about business. “I try to think of myself as an international bridge-builder,” he says. “In my current position, I’ve been able to bring together different industries, governments, academia, from the East to the West. Bringing people together is one of my greatest and most satisfying achievements.”

His most recent successes include bringing together partnering law firms from the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia to meet and discuss collaborations with the Chinese law firm partners and Chinese officials. The aim is to establish opportunities for future growth in China, Asia and Europe. He has also connected the Vice-Chancellor of a major Malaysian business school with law schools in Australia and China, to institute potential international student exchanges and faculty mobility programs.

Chin’s attitude springs, he says, from his upbringing. His beloved mother, Madam Tan Sow Kim – who sadly passed away in 2013 – was his inspiration. “I owe so much to her,” he says. “My mother single-handedly took care of five of us who grew up to achieve great things. She told us, constantly, that our challenging and humble origins were not barriers to success, but were catalysts for an attitude of gratitude. She taught me not to give up when things are tough, and my Christian background has taught me that however much I achieve, I must always be humble and be a blessing to others.”

He took his initial BA in Business Administration at the Northern University of Malaysia, then moved to England for his MBA at CJBS in 1996 which was, he says, “a childhood dream come true.” His subsequent career, first as a corporate financier and strategy consultant and then a lawyer, has taken him all over the world, and he has continued to study: in 2011 he read a postgraduate Master of Laws (Juris Doctor) at Monash University, Melbourne, before pursuing postgraduate studies in Chinese laws at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Koguan Law School.

Along the way, he’s picked up a slew of awards in recognition of his bridge-building accomplishments, including the 2012 Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Award, the Special Distinguished Award from the King of Malaysia for excellence in international achievements, and the British High Commissioner’s Chevening Award.

But Chin still feels that he has more to learn, and to that end he is about to move to the US to pursue postgraduate laws at the University of Chicago Law School. “My wife (and cheerleader!), Kate, asked me: ‘Have you not had enough of studying?’” he laughs. “Education is one of the vital keys that open the doors of the future. As expressed in my high school’s motto of ‘Be Yet Wiser’, I want to expand my current legal skills beyond Australian and Chinese jurisprudence, deepen my understanding of US laws, and build relationships with US law firms and industry players.”

He plans to use his knowledge to further his bridge building – this time, to bring America to Asia and Asia to America and the UK. “The Chinese legal system is actually replicating American laws, which is very interesting,” he points out. “So it’s going to be a plus to learn about American jurisprudence, possibly contribute to the improvements in Chinese laws, and help those who wish to move into China to know what their laws are.”

And, he says, the best is yet to come. “My motto is Isaiah 58:12 – to be a ‘Repairer of broken walls, Restorer of streets with dwellings’. Chicago feels like just the beginning. There is always so much more to learn.”

Michael is interested in meeting…

…potential collaborators in benefiting society through the practice of law, strategy and finance within the commercial, academic, banking and not-for-profit sectors.