(Editor’s Note: Atty Tranquil Salvador shares with the Manila Standard staff and readers the list of the top 100 practicing lawyers in the Philippines as at 2022. The full article may be uploaded from
Easing of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a breath of fresh air to the Philippines. The country recorded impressive 8.3 percent year-on-year economic growth in the first quarter of 2022, further bolstering recovery indicated by the previous quarter’s 7.7 percent.
This achievement brings new hope and the new president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, strongly indicates he will maintain the continuity of economic policy through the appointment of familiar faces to his cabinet.
A former member of the monetary council, Felipe Medalla, succeeded Benjamin Diokno as governor of the central bank, with his predecessor appointed finance secretary. Both are tasked with tackling inflation and unemployment.
With debt under control, record high foreign exchange reserves and economic growth at manageable rates, Marcos Jr has inherited a much stronger economy than that of his late father, the dictator overthrown in the 1986 “people’s power” revolution.
Encouragingly, legal reforms in recent months have further liberalized the economy by opening up major sectors to 100 percent foreign investment.
But although the Ukraine-Russia conflict is expected to have only limited direct impact on the trade sector, the Philippine authorities are wary of global supply chain disruption that could impact regional inflation.
Against this promising and challenging backdrop, Asia Business Law Journal presents the A-List of the top 100 best practicing lawyers in the Philippines. The A-List is based on extensive research conducted and nominations received from in-house counsel in the Philippines and elsewhere, as well as Philippines-focused partners in international law firms.
Nearly all A-List lawyers are located in the capital, Metro Manila, reflecting that lawyers want to be closer in serving both local and international clients. This metropolis is an economic, cultural, educational and industrial centre where lawyers can both network and keep up to speed with changing laws.
To understand their clients, and views on what it takes to be a first-class lawyer in the Philippines, we sought answers from many professionals, experienced in-house counsel, and corporate legal managers. From these recommendations, we identified and singled out prominent Filipino lawyers who make up this elite group.
Comments submitted to Asia Business Law Journal by clients indicate that they are not only looking for lawyers who are highly experienced in their fields and responsive in providing services, but also able to meet client needs, reliably guiding their businesses moving forward in times of uncertainty.
Recovering economic growth in the midst of the pandemic has attracted many foreign investors to invest in the Philippines. However, navigating the country’s regulatory framework is no simple matter, and many A-List lawyers are commended for their outstanding advice on this matter.
Arlene M Maneja, a partner at SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan, is praised by Mark Rilles, finance controller at upstream oil and gas company PXP Energy in Metro Manila. “She has done exemplary work in relation to, among others, international contract negotiations and due diligence for our company during the past 10 years,” says Rilles.
Gavin MacLaren, a senior partner and CEO at Australian law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Melbourne, says: “Maneja was an important senior member of our team who provided very valuable legal support on this unique and challenging matter.
“She clearly had the trust and confidence of our client, and contributed insightful knowledge on a wide range of issues based on an excellent understanding of relevant law and practice.”
Carl Nakanishi, general manager at truck distributor Shacman Motors in Metro Manila, recommends Enrique Dela Cruz Jr, a senior partner at DivinaLaw, for his “great knowledge of the law, and [he] makes it a point to study how our business works. This makes his advice to us very useful”.
Mariano Agoncillo, managing director at construction company Datem in Metro Manila, has the same high regard for Dela Cruz Jr. “He is very helpful in letting me understand the legal terms and law concerning our case,” says Agoncillo.
“I have a tendency to overreact on matters, but Rick Dela Cruz is always there to guide and assist me in all my decisions pertaining to our cases.”
The main point that distinguishes ordinary lawyers from great lawyers is the way they meet the needs of clients. While good legal knowledge is essential, it is equally important to offer advice tailored to specific needs.
Tranquil Gervacio Salvador III, a partner at Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles, receives a thumbs up from Benigno Emilio Ramirez, president and CEO at IT company Doña Alejandra in Metro Manila, for his bespoke advice, nominating him as “the best lawyer I have known”.
“He took time to explain the issues in the case and he saw to it that I understand the consequences of every legal action that he takes,” says Ramirez. “He has an excellent grasp of the law, which makes him a very effective lawyer. I saw his commitment to his work and his care towards his client. His zeal through the years never waned until he obtained a favorable outcome.”
Reynaldo Casas, president and founder of Advance Renewable Energy in Manila, concurs. “Aside from being the head of an outstanding law firm serving its clients, Tranquil serves several organizations as its chairman is engaged in diverse industries,” says Casas.
Satisfying assistance also made Rowell Ilagan, managing partner at Gargantiel Ilagan & Atanante Law, highly commended for his professionalism and legal knowledge by Lady Lanie Esquivel, legal and compliance manager at MAA General Assurance in Manila.