“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This familiar saying has guided the personal style of Azmul Haque, founder and managing director of local boutique law firm Collyer Law, since the beginning of his career.
The India-born Singapore citizen recalls, “I was usually dressed to the nines, more than any of my peers, in my younger years as a lawyer. I got some flak from them because of that. But you have to be your own person. What you wear and how you look is part of your image and identity as a professional.”
This keen awareness of his professional image, even as a fledgling lawyer, reveals a hint of the drive and ambition that led him to set up his law firm here in 2015, after 14 years of practicing law in India, England and Singapore.
Humorously, he says that the reasons he started Collyer Law were “YOLO and FOMO” – acronyms that stand for “you only live once” and “fear of missing out”.
Specialising in venture capital and technology transactions, Collyer Law provides business legal advice to emerging technology companies. Having formerly worked with Indian technology start-ups such as SnapDeal and FlipKart that went on to become unicorns, Haque felt that “there was a real opportunity in Singapore to start a legal practice focused on technology start-ups and advising young, hungry entrepreneurs who want to build great tech companies.”
He first took the idea to his former superiors in 2013. However, says Haque, “as this was before companies like Razer and Garena became unicorns and Singapore had yet to position itself as the start-up capital of Asia, they were not keen to embark on such an untested undertaking.” So, he went out on his own and Collyer Law was born.
One of its clients is Dynasty Esports, an esports portal management solutions provider with high-profile investors such as the UK-based Blue Star Capital. More recently, it signed a five-year exclusive partnership with the Malaysia Esports Federation.
Haque elaborates: “Esports is the fastest-growing sport in the world. This is the future. We want to represent these companies as their lawyers and advisers from the start. We want to help them when they need it the most and when they become big and famous, hopefully, we’ll still be their lawyers because we’ve built that relationship of trust.”
At this point in his career, the 42-year-old father of two boys has come far enough to feel comfortable about loosening up, at least style-wise. My dress sense is more relaxed now,” he says. “While I dressed for success when I was younger, success breeds certain confidence. In your early years, you’re trying to build those relationships and that image of yourself. Many of my clients are now also my friends, so there is less of a need to impress outwardly. But, of course, there is still an obligation to maintain that dignity and decorum. When you provide a service as a trusted adviser, you should look the part.”
“Style should be understated,” says Haque. He chose this Brunello Cucinelli ensemble – a white shirt, a dark blue cardigan, a lightweight olive jacket and white trousers – because “it is smart and contemporary, yet classic and timeless”. As he likes having some fun as well, he enlivens outfits with flamboyant accessories such as cufflinks – “I have a pair with the Superman logo” – and colourful socks.