The makings of a celebrity lawyer

Meet Samuel Seow, Singapore’s top entertainment lawyer who’s fought for justice for Tanya Chua, Sheikh Haikel... and the producers of Oscar-winning flick, Dallas Buyers Club


The Moneymaker:
Samuel Seow, 42, celeb lawyer and head honcho at Beam Artistes, which manages actors like Shane Pow and Paul Foster. He carved a niche in media and entertainment law by representing celebs the likes of Tanya Chua, Michelle Saram and Sheikh Haikel. Earlier this year, his firm, Samuel Seow Law Corporation, was engaged by the Hollywood producers of Dallas Buyers Club to claim damages from local viewers for illegally downloading the film. The legal eagle also runs a Malaysia outpost of his law firm and a sports management company, Inspire Singapore, which manages local athletes like swimmers Tao Li and Russell Ong.

HOME IS: A condo in Joo Chiat where he lives alone. “I move every two years ’cos I tend to flip property. But I’ve been here for three years ’cos the way the market is now, it’s not advisable to flip right now,” he says.

HIS RIDE IS: Uber rides that he spends about $3,000 on every month.

WHAT’S IN HIS WALLET: “...At any point, I have three types of currency in the Louis Vuitton wallet that I’ve had for two years. I have Singapore dollars, Malaysian dollars and Thai baht, ’cos I like going to Bangkok on a whim. I also have two credit cards, but I don’t encourage people to use credit cards. When I was young, I got into a lot of credit card debt and my sister had to save me.”

8 DAYS: You don’t dress like the typical lawyer. Do you spend more on clothes and grooming since you hang out with celebs?
SAMUEL SEOW: I try to spend more time on grooming. I don’t call myself a fashionista but I try to be fashionable.

What’s the cheapest item we’ll find in your wardrobe?
Basic V-neck tees from H&M. I have in excess of about 50 [which cost $9.90 each] ’cos they keep disappearing. I think the maid steals them. The most expensive? A Dolce & Gabbana red leather jacket that was about $7,000. I shouldn’t be spending so much money on clothes!

Which celeb gives you the best fashion advice?
I haven’t asked them for fashion advice, though sometimes if they look fat in an outfit, I’ll tell them. Once, Michelle Chong met me for high tea at Shangri-La in purple leggings. I asked her why she was wearing her clothes from filming to go out, and she said they were her own clothes. She was like, “Cannot meh? I think it’s nice.” I mean, who wears purple leggings? (Laughs)

How much money have you spent today?
About $400. Up until now, I’ve spent over $30 on an Uber ride, $100 on lunch and the rest on a bottle of champagne that I gifted my client. But tonight we’re going to karaoke and I’m sure I’ll spend about $1,000 ’cos there will be a lot of alcohol involved — usually Macallan whiskey — even though I don’t drink at all.

You’ve been in the business for over 15 years. Which has been the most challenging celeb case?
One of the most challenging cases — which is not a celeb case — is the Dallas Buyers Club lawsuit, which is still ongoing so I can’t talk too much about it. The law entitles us to claim up to $10,000 if we wanted to claim statutory damages. What was most challenging about that was that it required a change of mindset for Singaporeans — they need to know that you cannot do things at home secretly and think that you cannot get caught. If you go to a diamond shop when it’s closed, you don’t steal diamonds and think it’s correct, right? But it was the first time in my career where people on forums were demolishing me as a person and talking bad about me. Someone actually said that after Amos Yee, I was the most hated person [in Singapore]. You can’t read these things and sleep at night. So after a while, I stopped reading [the comments]. You need to centre yourself and know what’s right and wrong. First of all, I’m not the client so I’m not the one suing, but I fight for justice.

Do you think more movie producers will be doing the same after Dallas Buyers Club?
Already there are many others asking us if they can do the same. A lot of people we represent for these purposes are Hollywood producers. The technology to track and identify people who download is already in place.

Have any of your artistes sought legal advice from you?
All the time and about everything! There are a lot of things about the [entertainment] industry that people don’t hear about. We nip it in the bud before the media catches hold of it. Artistes are judged by their persona and that persona must be consistent. If it’s inconsistent, then there is a problem and we must make sure that the problem is not publicised. What sort of issues? All sorts of scandals that you can think of. It’s more than just about contract issues — it’s things in their past, their present and maybe their future. Whenever they get into trouble they will come to me. Whenever there are acute personal and legal issues they cannot personally handle, I’ll help them. Don’t try digging anymore!

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