Irving was many things to many people.
Irving the Student (University and Bar Days)
I first met Irving during our undergrad years in England. He was always properly dressed – with long-sleeved shirt and a larger than life persona. He was, after all the head prefect of ACS Secondary for his year. Head prefects in ACS carry a certain gravitas and Irving certainly had it.
Irving loved to eat chicken and snacks. Going to his room in the hostel was like going to the snack store … Walkers biscuits, crisps, coke light … never ending supply them.
Irving was the go-to person for advice on BGR – Boy Girl Relationships … how to date women, what presents to get, what sort of songs to play, how to compile a cassette type of the best songs to give to a crush etc. It was really interesting to see Irving in action – Mr Charmer he was. Most of his advice, however, worked only for himself.
Irving was a warm person with a big heart, very generous with his time, infectious with wit and humour, and very hard working. He wanted to succeed in all that he did.
I should add that Irving was very fond of his friends in Anglo Chinese Secondary School. Indeed, some of his closest and dearest friends were from his ACS days – all the way until the end. He would often share about his friends – doctors, lawyers and others from his school days and what they were up to.
Irving the Lawyer (Small to Big Firm)
We got called in the same year, and Irving started out in his uncle’s firm and he was one of the first few people we knew who got hold of a handphone when it first became mass market. It was the status symbol above all others at that time and Irving had it. From there, Irving practised law in several of firms, Wong Partnership, Rajah & Tann, KhattarWong, RHTTaylor Wessing and CTLC before staring his very own Optimus Chambers. Irving’s main practice area was in family and criminal law although he did his fair share of construction disputes as well.
Irving represented a whole host of clients. From the neediest to the wealthy. From people who had no car to people who owned Ferraris. He could relate to everyone and that was one of his best traits. He made everyone feel at ease. He did his fair share of pro bono work too. Indeed, one simply has to do a search on his name and a whole host of cases will pop out.
Irving was very helpful – never too busy to help a fellow lawyer who needed assistance. Contact numbers of private investigators, arguments which can be used (or cannot) would be selflessly volunteered by Irving.
Irving the Collector
Hobbies. Who can talk about Irving without remembering him and his toys.
From the first time I knew Irving, he loved toys. In England, all things Hello Kitty was fair game to him. He was a super fan of cats and Hello Kitty merchandise. I recall that when he came back to Singapore and was practising, there was a McDonalds Hello Kitty craze in the 1990s.
He would queue up for the toys, and would ask his secretary, friends, and anyone who was available to help him queue up and buy the toys for him. (He was a bit wasteful – he readily bought Happy Meals for everyone then – but without the toy!
In a time before WhatsApp, Facebook or other social media came about, Irving would have the latest details on which outlets carried which models and how much stock was left – and who was in the area to help him queue up for them.
Besides Hello Kitty, Irving also collected Transformers, Lego, Marvel, Bearbricks, Funkopops etc. Irving made it a point to get the contract numbers of the managers in OG, Metro, BHG etc to find out when new stocks would arrive and to reserve the hot items for him.
I believe one of the reasons Irving decided to come out on his own to start his own practice was to make sure that he could display his beloved toys all over the office. His policy was — one is not enough. Buy two or more. One to open and the rest to keep.
Irving used to say that when he retired, he would open a museum or store to sell his toys or play with them. He bought and bought and bought and he loved it. He knew that there was no limit to the collecting of toys and he loved it very much.
Irving the Boss and Mentor
After many years of working for people, Irving felt that it was appropriate that he started his own practice (apart from having more space to display his toys as mentioned above).
True to his dream of having fun at work, Irving started his own practice and named it Optimus Chambers. What better way to combine the two things he loved – toys and law (there are other things he enjoyed too which will not be permitted to be said here since this is a PG13 memorial). Modelled after himself, Irving took on the role of the leader of his practice. He worked with Bumble Bee and Star Scream. Bumble Bee was his padawan. It was his close knit family for more than 10 years.
In Irving’s own words on the founding of his firm:
We are a firm founded predominantly with “HEART”. We do not boast of being the best in town nor do we say that we know it all. On the contrary, the firm was established with people of one mind and one vision and that is to “strive to be the best in every case that we are working on.”
During Bumble Bee’s initial years, she would ask Irving, “Boss, why do you want to take on this client?” and he will always tell her, “Better me than anyone else, right?”. When she heard that, she would always think to herself, “Yeah, you got a point.” But she never told him.
As a lawyer, Irving did not reject any client. He taught his padawan to accept people as who they are. If a case gets too difficult, Irving would always try to think of creative ways to give these clients a fighting chance. This mantra of his lives in the people who have worked under him.
His padawan, now fully imbued with his teachings says, “I will not forget. Now that he is no longer around, I hope I can remember all that he has taught me and be a good lawyer in my lifetime.”
These are some of the memories of people who have had the good fortune and honour of knowing and being with Irving all these years.
Irving has left us with many good memories and we wish him all the best in his other persona in the multiverse. Who knows, in Earth 272, Irving may well be sitting as the living tribunal – deciding on matters which have impact on the everyday person.
Until we cross paths again through fate, realities, space and time, take care our good friend.
I can hear Irving call out – “Autobots, Transform and Roll out”.
Eldan Law LLP
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