Asia Business Law Journal presents our top law firms in the Philippines for 2022. Anindya Pithaloka and Lim Miran report
As the Philippines’ economic recovery continues, with nearly all social restrictions removed and business activities resumed, the country is confident of getting its economy back on track to pre-pandemic levels.
In October 2022, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported unemployment falling to 4.5%, from 7.4% during the same period the previous year. The survey also highlighted an increase in the number of employed, from 43.82 million Filipinos in October 2021 to an estimated 47.11 million for the same period in 2022. The employment rate increased to 95.5% in October 2022 from 95% in the previous month, meaning two million more people entered the workforce during that period.
Amid external pressure from intensifying geopoliticial tensions, rising energy prices, and disruptions in international supply chains and logistics, this rebound is testimony to Filipino resilience.
Yet despite an economic recovery in 2022, high domestic inflation continues to pose a looming challenge to growth. To address this, the new administration, led by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, has laid out a socioeconomic agenda aimed at strengthening and growing the economy. The Philippines Development Plan 2023-2028 serves as a guideline for the country to achieve its medium-term priorities.
Amid these numerous changes and challenges, the country’s law firms continue to adapt and thrive. In recognition of outstanding firms in the past year, our 2022 Philippines Law Firm Awards identify one Law Firm of the Year, along with five Best Overall Law Firms, and four winners each in 22 practice areas.
- Law firm of the year
- Best overall law firms
- Best new law firm
- Best boutique law firm
- Arbitration & ADR
- Banking & finance
- Capital markets
- Competition & antitrust
- Corporate & commercial
- Data compliance
- Insurance & reinsurance
- Intellectual property enforcement
- Intellectual property protection
- Labour & employment
- Mergers & acquisitions
- Private equity & venture capital
- Projects & infrastructure
- Real estate
- Restructuring, refinancing & insolvency
- Shipping & maritime
- Structured finance & securitisation
- Technology, media & telecoms
LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR
Founded in 1945, SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan, or SyCipLaw, is one of the largest and most recognised law firms in the Philippines. The firm represents domestic, foreign and multinational enterprises in various fields including manufacturing, mining, banking and other financial services, communications, real estate, e-commerce and more. It also provides legal services to individuals, non-profit institutions, governmental agencies and multilateral organisations.
Serving clients from their offices in Manila, Cebu, Davao and Subic, SyCipLaw has represented some of the biggest corporations in the Philippines, as well as international corporations such as the Manila Electric Company, Macquarie Capital Securities (Philippines), Philippine Long Distance Telephone, the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philip Morris Philippines, Deutsche Bank and Pfizer to name a few.
One highlight of SyCipLaw’s 2022 achievements included acting as counsel to the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Capital and BPI Asset Management and Trust in two term-loan facility agreements amounting to PHP77 billion (USD1.4 billion).
As part of its ESG commitment to the environment, the firm also launched an electronic waste collection drive called the SyCipLaw Green Initiative, encouraging responsible disposal of discarded electronic devices and appliances among its employees. The initiative kicked off with a webinar series, held in co-operation with local circular economy startup Humble Sustainability and the Philippine office of the UN Industrial Development Organisation.
“Sycip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan is the Philippines’ biggest law firm and deserves to be the best law firm, not just in terms of quantity but also the quality of most lawyers,” says Marian Majer, chairman and executive director of Roedl Philippines in Manila.
- CRUZ MARCELO & TENEFRANCIA
- QUISUMBING TORRES
2022 marked the 50th anniversary of leading law firm ACCRALAW with a change in leadership amid rapid growth. Senior partners Patricia-Ann Prodigalidad and Leland Villadolid Jr were elected managing partner and co-managing partner, respectively. Prodigalidad, who was previously co-managing partner, succeeded Emerico de Guzman, who is now of counsel. The firm also hired a total of 71 associates, mostly new lawyers admitted to the bar, and to date has more than 160 lawyers, including 44 partners.
ACCRALAW also has plenty to celebrate for their achievements in the past 12 months. One was assisting the establishment of a USD1.5 billion medium-term note programme, one of few Asean green bonds issued in the region. The firm also acted as Philippine counsel for dealers in the establishment of a USD1.5 billion medium-term note programme by ACEN Finance, and the issuance of a USD400 million undated guaranteed USD notes from the programme.
Their most recent success was acting as Philippine counsel to global private equity firm Warburg Pincus’s acquisition of 60% of MAPFRE Insular Insurance Corporation.
In barely a decade, Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia has proven it’s a serious contender among the best law firms in the Philippines. Founded by the country’s former secretary of national defence, Avelino Cruz Jr, former ombudsman and solicitor-general Simeon Marcelo, and Joe Nathan Tenefrancia, who previously held a number of positions under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, the law firm provides advice on raising capital through debt, equity or other securities.
With Marcelo as chairman and CEO, and Tenefrancia as managing partner, the firm has 15 senior partners, 14 partners, 11 senior associates and 28 junior associates. Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia managed to bag several prestigious accomplishments in 2022, including successfully representing In-N-Out Burger and Manulife among other clients filing for trademark applications.
Another highlight was assisting Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Aboitiz & Company as counsel for the sale of their 27% stake in Aboitiz Power, amounting to USD1.5 billion, to JERA, Japan’s largest power generation company.
With a roster of clients that includes some of the most distinguished multinational corporations and publicly listed companies, the law firm also assists with regulatory requirements of public offerings, private placements and stock exchange listings, and complying with mandatory disclosures and other governance requirements.
“Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia is our go-to firm for various issues, as we are assured of the quality of service and accessibility of the handling lawyers,” says Maria Cecilia De Leon-Agatep, assistant vice president – legal at port operator Asian Terminals in Manila. “They are open to discussing their opinion and providing further clarification to better assist in-house lawyers like me in serving our stakeholders.”
Having been a client since 2020, Karl Scott, chief financial officer at metalworking and industrial product distributor BlackHawk Industrial in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the US, said Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia provided outstanding legal and operating advice to identify risks and opportunities in compliance with Philippines’ regulatory requirements.
“The lawyers are always patient and take the time to ensure we completely understand the ‘why’ behind the Philippines’ regulations and, more importantly, help us safely navigate future challenges,” says Scott. “Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia also makes insightful recommendations that allow us to anticipate the impact of future changes and to restructure or realign operations as required.”
Established in 1963, Quisumbing Torres is headed by Ramon Quisumbing, renowned among the country’s top dispute resolution lawyers. The law firm is also recognised as a leader on aviation issues, building a considerable reputation in the real estate, data compliance and insurance practices. It has also represented global technology companies in various proceedings related to transportation laws and regulations before Philippine regulatory, legislative and judicial agencies.
While sought after by an impressive roster of domestic clients, being a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International also enables Quisumbing Torres to offer cross-border services to clients, working on some of the most significant transactions in the Philippines, including advising Bangchak Petroleum on its AUD120 million (USD82.8 million) takeover of Nido Petroleum Australia.
In response to the rapidly expanding fintech market of late, Quisumbing Torres also recently launched a primer guide on understanding the legal and regulatory framework of fintech in the Philippines. The guide provides relevant legal and regulatory information including issues and considerations related to the fintech sector, as well as data privacy and cybersecurity, anti-money laundering compliance and business challenges facing the sector.
“Having worked with Quisumbing Torres on intellectual property matters, I found partners Bienvenido Marquez III and Reena Mitra-Ventanilla were very attentive, highly competent, responsive and professional,” says Cecily Nerisse Ramirez-dela Cruz, general counsel at 3M Philippines in Manila.
Benjamin Guo, acting project representative at China Harbour Engineering Company in Manila, says Quisumbing Torres has been a strong legal partner in providing advice on laws and regulations of various government authorities, as well as handling questions from relevant stakeholders.
“From background investigation to case analysis, strategy development, preparation for responses until the case closure, they know how to provide their services in the best way,” says Guo. “We always feel comfortable and reliable from their services. We are confident with our jobs and performance in our projects, and we are also confident with the partnership with Quisumbing Torres.”
Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles, colloquially known as Romulo, is one of the most reputable law firms in the country as well as one of the oldest, tracing its roots back to 1902. Chairman and senior partner Ricardo Romulo leads more than 90 lawyers in handling landmark cases, some of which developed jurisprudence that is studied in Philippine law schools.
With offices in Manila, Cebu and Hong Kong, the law firm represents some of the biggest domestic and international businesses, and is recognised among the best firms for banking and finance, capital markets, M&A, private equity and venture capital, corporate and commercial, and competition and antitrust. The law firm is also the only Philippine member of Lex Mundi, a global network of about 160 independent law firms.
BEST NEW LAW FIRM
Established in 2020, Cerilles & Fernan Intellectual Property Law (CFIP Law) is primarily engaged in local and international protection of IP rights, while also specialising in filing patent co-operation treaty applications in the Philippines, and co-ordinating national phase entries in foreign jurisdictions. As a boutique law firm, CFIP Law offers legal services tailored to each client’s specific requirements to safeguard brands, creations and innovations.
Helmed by founding partners Mario Cerilles Jr and Harry Gwynn Omar Fernan, the law firm is not only armed with legal competence in IP law, but is also experienced in the life sciences field. Cerilles is experienced in IP, immigration and litigation, while Fernan is a lawyer also adept in scientific and technical writing, and has published several research papers. This diverse legal background allows CFIP Law to establish a network of trusted foreign associates facilitating IP transactions worldwide.
With a lean team of about 10 lawyers, the firm is aided by consultants with backgrounds in diverse fields including physics, biotechnology and engineering.
“CFIP Law provided immediate attention to our concern and handled our query with both empathy and professionalism,” says Michelle Garcia, senior team manager at Johnson & Johnson in Austin, Texas, in the US. “They knew right away what had to be done, and they noticed intricacies that other lawyers would not have paid attention to. Another strength is that as a boutique firm, they were able to provide caring attention to us.”
Established in 1977, DelRosario & DelRosario initially served the international maritime industry, advising multinational shipping clients, and protection and indemnity clubs, on labour law, collisions, oil pollution and spills, ship acquisitions, and other maritime industry-related matters. Having earned its reputation as a leading maritime firm, the firm has since steadily expanded its practice to other fields of law including IP, labour, litigation, M&A, dispute resolution and immigration.
Despite the pandemic’s challenges, DelRosario & DelRosario remains resilient with the volume of new matters in 2022 almost reaching pre-pandemic levels. Recently, five new lawyers and numerous paralegals have been hired to meet increasing client demands.
In 2022, the law firm handled more than 1,000 crew claims with potential exposure of up to several hundred US dollars per claim. Some claims were cross-border jurisdictional issues, which required the firm to issue opinions and affidavits supporting Philippine exclusive jurisdiction. The law firm is also actively involved in drafting the so-called magna carta for seafarers, including revisions to the Philippine overseas employment administration contract, which provides minimum employment terms for Filipino seafarers.
In other practice areas, most recent clientele include international tech giants such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Sony.
“DelRosario & DelRosario is very much approachable and close to the ground to understand client’s needs,” says Billy Chiu, executive vice president at maritime company BW Group in Singapore. “They focus on providing practical and simple solutions for clients to navigate through complex legal or legislative requirements.”
- CRUZ MARCELO & TENEFRANCIA
- AGCAOILI & ASSOCIATES
- OCAMPO MANALO VALDEZ & LIM
- QUISUMBING TORRES
Established in 1974 by Antonio Agcaoili and Alfonso Agcaoili, Agcaoili & Associates is a comprehensive law practice specialising in aviation, and aircraft finance and leasing, among others. The law firm also acts as correspondent counsel for various law firms in the US, Europe and Asia.
Managing partner Jose Luis Agcaoili leads a team of three partners, a senior associate and two associate attorneys.
Ocampo Manalo Valdez & Lim is a full-service law firm headed by Carlos Ocampo and Manolito Manalo. Ocampo is credited for his role in deregulating the Philippine aviation industry in the early 1990s, when he secured several franchises for new airline operators, while Manalo is renowned in dispute resolution, aviation and real estate.
The law firm has extended its regional reach through formal affiliation with Malaysian law firm Jeff Leon Poon & Wong, with a Southeast Asia network including Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam. It is also a member of LAWASIA, a regional association of lawyers, judges, jurists and legal organisations, as well as the non-profit Asian Business Aviation Association.
Founded in 1987, Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos (Picazo Law) is one of the most respected firms in the country, recognised for its capital markets and banking and finance practices. From humble beginnings with 16 lawyers, the firm has grown to 32 partners, three special counsel, and 14 senior associates and associates.
While especially sought after for its expertise in capital markets, M&A, private equity and venture capital, banking and finance, and real estate, the firm also has strong IP, litigation, tax, labour, immigration, gaming and energy practices.
The law firm’s clients include some of the biggest international investment banks, as well as domestic and international conglomerates including HSBC, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, ANZ Bank, Deutsche Bank, Asian Development Bank, Standard Chartered, San Miguel, Jardine Group, Lippo Group and many more.
- C&G LAW
- QUISUMBING TORRES
C&G Law was founded as Caguioa & Gatmaytan in 2007 by Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Jaime Renato Gatmaytan, Ben Dominic Yap, Norma Margarita Patacsil, Anthony Mark Gutierrez, and Jesus Paolo Protacio. Following Caguioa’s withdrawal from partnership on being appointed chief presidential legal counsel to former Philippines president Benigno Aquino III in 2013, the law firm’s name changed to Gatmaytan Yap Patacsil Gutierrez & Protacio, but still continues under the popularly known name of C&G Law.
Managing partner Yap, one of the founders, currently leads the full-service law firm of more than 40 lawyers, which has been actively advising local and foreign clients on competition law concerns and related regulatory matters. Prominent clients have included Jollibee Food Corporation, Cargill Philippines and leading Swedish conglomerate Altor. The firm is also a member of Southeast Asia’s largest legal network, Rajah & Tann Asia.
- V&A LAW
Villaraza & Angangco (V&A Law) was founded in 1980 by former Supreme Court justices Antonio Carpio and Arthur Villaraza, and has a formidable reputation for its corporate and commercial law practice.
Since 2016, Alejandro Navarro has served as managing partner and Augusto San Pedro Jr as co-managing partner, with Villaraza as chairman and CEO. The firm currently has 20 partners, two newly promoted in 2022, with the support of 24 senior associates and 10 associates.
- DISINI & DISINI
- QUISUMBING TORRES
Founded in 2000, Disini & Disini provides a full range of legal support and services in foreign investment, technology, corporate practice and litigation. Managing partner JJ Disini leads the firm including two senior partners, a junior partner and eight associates.
From time to time, Disini & Disini assists clients on data breach incidents, reporting and management, a relatively new field in the Philippines with few legal cases on cybercrime and data, making it challenging for a law practice. Through cases they handle, the law firm aims to set precedents and standards in the protection of digital rights.
The law firm has also substantially contributed to Philippine and regional data privacy developments, conducting various seminars and webinars on digital transformation. Several of its lawyers are lecturers at the University of the Philippines Open University on its data privacy officer certification courses.
Established in 2006 by managing partner Nilo Divina, DivinaLaw operates with the value of dynamic lawyering, which means prompt, proactive and result-oriented. The firm offers depth and range of experience and resources while fostering a professional and collaborative work ethic.
Among 2022 highlights, the firm advised a technology company providing infrastructure for the no-contact apprehension programme (capturing traffic violations without physical apprehension) for local government units and the Metro Manila Development Authority. The law firm also regularly issues legal opinions and prepares all data breach reports and data security incidents ensuring its clients comply with all existing regulations, especially the required 72-hour notification to the regulator for all covered incidents.
DivinaLaw is additionally the sole Philippine member of Lawyers Associated Worldwide, a top-rated international association of more than 100 independent law firms from more than 50 countries.
- CRUZ MARCELO & TENEFRANCIA
- PJS LAW
Puyat Jacinto & Santos Law Offices (PJS Law) was established by the late David Puyat, with Regina Jacinto-Barrientos and Roy Enrico Santos, in 1997. From modest beginnings, the law firm continues to grow with 20 partners, five senior associates and 15 associates, all led for more than a decade by managing partner Jacinto-Barrientos.
The law firm has a well-deserved reputation for its energy and infrastructure practice. In the past 12 months, it acted as transactional counsel assisting Spanish clean energy developer Iberdrola to expand its offshore wind activities in the Philippines. These project sites located in shallow waters off the coasts of Luzon and the Visayas island groups, are the first offshore wind service concessions awarded in the country.
The law firm also assisted project financing from the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines and other financial institutions to Japanese renewable energy Renova for a 17.4MW hydropower project in Ifugao province.
Puno and Puno Law Offices (PunoLaw) was established by the late Ricardo Puno Sr after stepping down as former minister of justice of the Philippines in 1984, together with his son and now managing partner Ricardo Puno Jr. The firm is now led by his youngest son, Roderico Puno as managing partner.
Recently, PunoLaw assisted the subsidiaries of Philippine renewable energy companies PH Renewables and CACI Power Corporation in drafting and negotiation for an omnibus loan and security agreement with Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation for PHP2.65 billion.
- INSIGHTS PHILIPPINES
- SL LAW
- VAL LAW
Insights Philippines was established in 2017 by managing partner Felix Sy, and within five years has built a reputation by handling several outstanding deals. These have included advising on one of the largest global Canada-based insurance conglomerates on structuring its insurance brokerage arrangement to comply with Philippine insurance laws and regulations.
A member of the ZICO Law network, the firm recently provided advisory and consultancy on a regular basis to Manufacturers Life Insurance on the Philippine legal environment for the insurance industry, particularly on possible foreign equity restrictions, business concerns, licensing requirements, general tax laws and data privacy laws.
Sarmiento Loriega Law Office (SL Law) was established in 2020, with founding partners Julito Sarmiento and Elizabeth Perralta-Loriega bringing decades of local and global knowledge and experience in various practice areas. The full-service law firm now has three senior partners, one of counsel, seven senior associates and seven associates.
SL Law provides a cost-effective and total solutions approach, guided by the law firm’s standards of excellence. The law firm is experienced in assisting and representing clients in the settlement of coverage claims and disputes in insurance matters, as well as regulatory compliance for insurance transactions, and issues affecting both lender and borrower in project finance deals.
Vasig Abarquez Lumauig Law Offices (VAL Law) opened its office in 2017. Founding partners Elyrhey Cesar Vasig, Paolo Abarquez and Timothy Joseph Lumauig lead the five-partner firm with the support of six associates.
Recently, the law firm advised Philippine insurtech company Maria Health on becoming the first insurance web aggregator recognised by the Insurance Commission in the Philippines, assisting with contractual relations and regulatory compliance, as well as closing a million-dollar fundraising round.
Federis & Associates continually evolves along with the field of intellectual property (IP). Led by managing partner Mila Federis, the boutique IP law firm consistently ranks as one of the top trademark and patent filers in the country and scored big wins for clients before the Intellectual Property Office and Supreme Court of the Philippines.
For more than 30 years, the firm has served as the go-to firm for global brands and large corporations, with cornerstone cases that include winning significant decisions in Philippine courts for clients such as Philips, Universal, Yahoo!, Marlboro and many more.
Established in 2006, Hechanova Group is primarily an IP-focused law firm with a very strong IP law practice dealing with contentious issues, strengthened by partners and principals Editha Hechanova, Brenda Rivera, Noemi Rivera, Gladys Vilchez, Chrissie Ann Barredo and Joy Marie Gabor-Tolentino. Starting from four lawyers when first founded, the firm now employs 54 law professionals.
The law firm was last year recognised by the IP Office of the Philippines as top patent filer in the country from 2017 to 2021.
- CFIP LAW
- CRUZ MARCELO & TENEFRANCIA
- SL LAW
- QUISUMBING TORRES
- V&A LAW
- POBLADOR BAUTISTA & REYES
Poblador Bautista & Reyeswas founded in 1994 by Alexander Poblador, Mario Luza Bautista and Gilbert Raymund Reyes. The general practice and full-service law firm has four departments: litigation and arbitration; corporate, tax and special projects; industrial and IP; and employment and immigration. Today, the law firm has 15 partners including six senior partners, eight senior associates and 14 junior associates.
Since its inception, Poblador Bautista & Reyes has been known primarily for litigation and trial work, with extensive experience in all fields of dispute resolution. The firm has handled several major dispute cases involving public bidding, privatisation, real estate disputes, consumer claims, damages and breach of contract. Its roster of clients includes San Miguel Global Power, Intel, Levi Strauss, Cathay Pacific, ISS Facility Services Philippines, Trek Bicycle and Petron.
- GULAPA LAW
- PJS LAW
- SL LAW
Gulapa Law started as a boutique law firm with six lawyers in 2015, established by founding partner Aris Gulapa. With expertise in private equity and venture capital, it has expanded aggressively across borders, becoming the first Philippine-based law firm to set up a presence in New York City through its affiliate, Gulapa & Baclay, followed by a representative office in San Francisco in 2018.
Gulapa Law has been assisting and advising clients to facilitate investment into their venture companies or make investments into creative pursuits. Recently the firm assisted Manila-based private equity firm MFT Group on financing modes, particularly in lending regulations and taxes payable on foreign loans, as well as drafting definitive and non-disclosure agreements, which involve careful consideration due to the complexity of Philippine and US law.
- FORTUN NARVASA & SALAZAR
- GULAPA LAW
- PJS LAW
Fortun Narvasa & Salazar was formed in 1993 by senior partners Philip Sigfrid Fortun, Gregorio Narvasa II, and Roderick Salazar, providing general legal services to local and international clients. After experiencing a decrease in junior associates in the pandemic, the firm is back in full swing, hiring 12 new lawyers in 2022, for a total of 30 lawyers serving returning demand for legal services in the country.
The firm recently assisted in project completion and closing for Philippine solar energy developer SunAsia Energy in its USD1.2 billion joint development project with pan-Asian downstream solar company Blue Leaf Energy Asia for 1,300MW floating solar plants in Laguna Lake, southeast of Manila. The law firm also assisted in the submission of eligibility documents and a review of the renewable energy utilisation contract with the Laguna Lake Development Authority.
MOSVELDTT is a full-service law firm established in 2009 by managing partner Alfredo “John” Molo III, well-known for its expertise in helping top businesses, foreign investors and government leaders navigate a fast-changing and increasingly complex world. With six partners and six associates experienced in the intricacies of business and regulation, the law firm also provides consultancy to government and international organisations.
In 2022, MOSVELDTT was instrumental in assisting technology company Shiptek Solutions to win the Philippine Ports Authority’s procurement contract for a trusted operator programme-container registry monitoring system, and empty container storage shared service facility. The programme aims to tag and track hundreds of thousands of containers to mitigate port decongestion and enhance trade and supply chain reliability.
- CASTILLO LAMAN TAN PANTALEON & SAN JOSE
- CRUZ MARCELO & TENEFRANCIA
- SL LAW
- VAL LAW
Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose was formed in 1981 as Castillo Laman Tan & Pantaleon with 17 lawyers and the late Gregorio Castillo, as well as Noel Laman, Ancheta Tan and Polo Pantaleon as founding partners. In 1995, securities lawyer Roberto San Jose merged his law practice to form the law firm’s current stable.
With 50 lawyers including 26 partners, it is one of the most respected law firms in the country, assisting numerous special projects in real estate and representing various parties in financial transactions involving big government infrastructure projects and private property developers.
- DELROSARIO & DELROSARIO
- ESGUERRA & BLANCO
- ORTEGA BACORRO ODULIO CALMA & CARBONELL
Esguerra & Blanco is a full-service firm established in 2004 by senior partners Ramon Esguerra and the late Jaime Blanco, advising local and international clients on all areas of Philippine law. The firm has a total of seven partners, 18 associates and a tax consultant.
In the shipping and maritime sectors, the law firm provides legal services and representation for clients in all aspects of employment and dispute cases including breach of contracts of carriage (i.e., collisions and other maritime accidents, actions involving claims for death or injury of passengers, and loss or damage to cargo and property), violations of service contracts, and actions involving claims on life and non-life insurance.
Ortega Bacorro Odulio Calma & Carbonell was founded as Pillsbury & Sutro in 1901 by American law practitioners, making it one of the oldest law firms in the country. Through the years it has undergone many changes, with departed partners dropped from the name, until adopting its present name in 2010.
The law firm is widely recognised for its expertise in maritime and admiralty law, handling cases involving collision, attachment and ship arrest, foreclosure, pollution, and damage to piers, underwater cables and corals, along with seafarer claims for benefits, cargo claims and registration of vessels.
Started more than 70 years ago by VE del Rosario, VeraLaw was initially named VE del Rosario & Associates, specialising in maritime and admiralty law. Clients later commonly called the firm by its abbreviation VERA, and the shorthand name is used to this day. The four-partner law firm is now led by managing partner Valeriano del Rosario, the son of the firm’s founder.
As the law firm thrives, VeraLaw continues to be renowned among the best shipping law firms in the country, while expanding into other areas such as IP, immigration and taxation, followed by the expansion of its client base to Japan and Europe. The law firm’s lawyers also actively contribute to the country’s shipping law by providing articles on maritime law and developments in the Philippine shipping industry.
- GULAPA LAW
- PICAZO LAW
- PJS LAW
- BDB LAW
- MATA-PEREZ TAMAYO & FRANCISCO
- OCAMPO & SURALVO
Du-Baladad and Associates (BDB Law) is a boutique law firm specialising in taxation, and founded 13 years ago by taxation and corporate lawyer Benedicta Du-Baladad, who is currently the CEO and consistently ranked among the top 100 lawyers in the Philippines. The law firm is powered by accountant lawyers and economist lawyers who can appreciate the intricacies and uniqueness of every transaction.
With the rapid advance of digitalisation, BDB Law has streamlined access to its voluminous files for tax opinions, pleadings, rulings, assessments and other significant documents by creating an e-library. The firm also joined WTS Group, a Munich-headquartered international consulting group with tax, legal and consulting business units.
In the past 12 months, the law firm handled dispute resolutions worth about PHP16 billion between a fruit supplier company and the tax bureau. The successful handling prevented dragging the case into a long-term process, exposure to the potential risks of losses, and incurring high costs of litigation.
Mata-Perez Tamayo & Francisco was established in 2013 by Euney Marie Mata-Perez, Mark Anthony Tamayo and Gerardo Maximo Francisco. All three are seasoned counsel recognised for their industry-leading practices in the fields of corporate, tax, global trade and customs, labour and litigation. With eight associates, this small firm has built a reputation for providing holistic, practical and hands-on assistance from the boardroom to the courtroom.
The law firm is also a member of the International Tax Specialist Group, a collaboration of independent tax professionals from 50 countries who practice internationally.
Founded in 2015, Ocampo & Suralvo is a full-service law firm led by Jude Ocampo with the support of 16 lawyers, including five partners and four senior associates. Through collaboration with regional law firm DFDL, Ocampo & Suralvo provides clients with solutions to thrive in the global economy, providing access to tax and legal expertise in many of the world’s fastest-growing investment destinations.
- DISINI & DISINI
- GORRICETA AFRICA CAUTON & SAAVEDRA
- QUISUMBING TORRES
Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra is one of the fastest-growing firms in the country, growing in just seven years to 12 partners and a total of 80 lawyers. Well-known in the digital banking and fintech sectors, the law firm recently represented the Philippines’ premiere e-wallet, Coins.ph, in the sale of shares of GoTo, Indonesia’s biggest tech firm, and Coins.ph’s change of ownership application with the central bank.
In the inaugural Philippine Block Awards, featuring global leaders and innovators in blockchain, crypto, web3 and gaming, tech lawyer Mark Gorriceta, the law firm’s managing partner, was declared Philippine Block Champion. Gorriceta was also appointed as a member of the Blockchain Council of the Philippines, which includes leaders from the industries of finance, marketing and technology, to promote blockchain technology in the country.
The judging process
The winners of Asia Business Law Journal’s Philippines Law Firm Awards were selected based on votes, references and qualitative information received from in-house counsel and other legal professionals in the Philippines and around the world.
A voting form was posted on our website, and thousands of in-house counsel, lawyers at international law firms and other Philippine-focused professionals were invited to vote. At the same time, Philippine law firms were asked to make submissions in support of their candidacy for awards. These submissions, combined with research by Asia Business Law Journal’s editorial team, played a supporting role in the judging process.
All Philippine law firms were automatically eligible for inclusion in the awards process. As always, there were no entry fees or any other requirements for entry.