Legal Market Overview
With the Covid-19 pandemic still ongoing in much of Southeast Asia, the Philippines has had to adapt to the ‘new normal’ in both everyday life and regulatory terms. Due to travel restrictions, visa applications dropped off and immigration practices were particularly hard hit. However, a revision of government guidelines now allows foreign nationals to apply for the 9(g)-work visa and 47(a)2 work visa whilst still abroad instead of in-country, streamlining the process. In light of these developments, firms are predicting an increase in work visa applications from multinational clients.
Firms specialising in technology-related sectors have fared better. As around 71% of the adult population in the Philippines is unbanked, fintech and decentralized digital banking companies have taken the market by storm. Regulatory policies are reflective of the fintech boom; Philippine authorities have adopted a regulatory sandbox approach to provide businesses in the financial sector with a controlled but dynamic environment to innovate novel ideas, products and services. As a result, firms have been increasingly solicited for their regulatory and compliance services.
International firms are particularly active on the capital and debt markets front with Milbank and Latham & Watkins LLP leading in these areas. Top-tier domestic firms such as Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra, Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALaw) and SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan cover other key practice areas such as TMT and intellectual property and are often sought out as local counsel by major multinational companies. A member of the Baker Mckenzie network, Quisumbing Torres is particularly strong across most practice areas. Martinez Vergara Gonzalez & Serrano joined Drew Network Asia which is an alliance of well established Southeast Asian law firms such as Drew & Napier LLC, Makarim & Taira S.and Shearn Delamore & Co in October 2021.