In association with our partners Villaraza & Angangco, The Legal 500 is proud to present our first-ever GC Powerlist: Philippines to you, our compilation of the top in-house lawyers in one of the globe’s most exciting and rapidly growing nations.
Having published a Southeast Asia GC Powerlist for many years, our research team’s goal for 2023 is to increase the focus of our coverage of in-house lawyers across Southeast Asia and to create specific editions for the in-house legal communities in the major economies here. We are delighted to be able to properly highlight the full range of top corporate counsel that there are in the Philippines, and hope that this publication, which is the culmination of many months (and, indirectly, years) of research by our team, shows how committed The Legal 500 is to the Philippines.
As always, the interviews we conducted gave a remarkable insight into the work of the modern high-level corporate counsel. We always make sure to ask a series of questions to the GCs we speak to, and receive a huge range of answers in response, from the effects of technological change, to the quality of legal representation in the country at hand, to the future of the GC position. Cecily Nerisse (Chel) C. Ramirez-dela Cruz of 3M Philippines’ explanation of why in-house lawyers are well-placed to deliver change in their organisations stood out for its clarity:
‘In-house lawyers, by their function and the nature of the position, have general knowledge of a company’s operations, and can flag what works, what doesn’t, what needs improvement. We listen to our clients as they consult, and we can identify the root cause of the problems, as well as any unintended but inevitable consequences thereof, and recommend courses of action to address these problems and avoid them, or mitigate the risks that accompany them. Because of this unique knowledge, in-house lawyers are well-suited to be catalysts for meaningful change in their respective organisations.’
Rosa Margarita A. De Guzman of McDonald’s Philippines talked eloquently about the need to put in the hours when developing relationships with others in the business:
‘Credibility takes time to build and can only be successfully accomplished with a track record of dependability. We must be the legal experts that we advertise ourselves to be. We must consistently show up for the commitments that we make. And, we have to unfailingly deliver on promises or otherwise extend ourselves to our limits to attempt it. There is no workaround on building credibility. It entails hard work, reliability, and time. Showing our moralities as a person is another matter entirely but is something that I believe is equally important to build authentic relationships with our business partners. It requires a certain vulnerability to expose what matters to us most.’
Taking a different approach, Bernard Malibiran of Republic Cement spoke about his wishlist for the Filipino law firms of the future.
‘I would like to see less traditional, and more innovative and entrepreneurial thinking in external law firms. Innovative law firms are not only tech savvy, but also offer fresh approaches and perspectives to legal complexities—perhaps brought about by a more diverse set of lawyers with backgrounds coming from information technology, engineering, or finance rather than the traditional political science or legal management backgrounds.’
Thank you to all the in-house lawyers who spoke to us as part of our research into this first ever Philippines edition of the GC Powerlist, and congratulations to all of those who made the final cut. Thank you also to V&A for making this event possible—we could not ask for better event partners. We plan to make the Philippines GC Powerlist a yearly ceremony highlighting the best corporate counsel in the country, and hope to have many more editions over the coming years.
Global Editor: The Legal 500’s Powerlist Series
The Legal 500
With a scorching hot early July day in Manila as the setting, The Legal 500 journeyed to the fabulous Rainmaker Lounge at the penthouse of Villaraza & Angangco’s V&A Law Centre to host and congratulate the leading lights of the in-house legal community of the Philippines as part of the first-ever Philippines GC Powerlist. The room was packed to capacity with GCs, chief legal officers and legal heads, the culmination of a research and invitation process that took our research team many months to complete.
The lounge had an electric atmosphere as old friends and classmates caught up with each other and new connections were made, and after some bubbles and hors d’oeuvres the guests settled in for the ceremony. Opening remarks and well-wishes from The Legal 500’s GC Powerlist editor Joe Boswell were followed by a rousing congratulatory speech from V&A’s managing partner Sylvette Tankiang who spoke of the great achievements those in the room had made to be a part of the ceremony. GC keynote speaker Maricor Adriano of GCash took the podium next, speaking about the unique role in-house lawyers play for their organisations and relating some of the key episodes in her career that had made her into the lawyer and businessperson she is today.
The award ceremony followed, as each successful in-house lawyer took to the stage to receive their certificate alongside Legal 500 representative Ben Lovell. After closing congratulations from V&A co-managing partner Franchette Acosta, it was time for the party, which went late into the night. Congratulations to all the fine GCs who made it onto the Powerlist, and thank you to Villaraza & Angangco for making this event possible.