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Monday, January 13, 2003 TEN BEST LAWYERS IN THE PHILIPPINES TODAY In my seven years in the profession, I have seen

hundreds of lawyers in action. I saw them negotiating, writing, appearing in court, pleading with authority, and doing everything they can to help their clients get out of bad situations. I have come to the conclusion that good lawyering is a matter of having good lawyer habits. The lawyers with the best instincts, and consequently the one who can best deliver legal service, are the ones with the best habits. They are the lawyers who have made excellence a habit of mind. They are very careful with their clients' interests and very creative. They can compete with the best lawyers of the world. I kept a tab all these years. If you are a lawyer and you are not here, it's either I haven't met you or you still haven't made the grade. Here is my Top Ten. NUMBER 10. Francisco Ed. Lim He pitched in for one week in my Evidence class and ran the classes like it were a military drill. We were expected to think on our feet, remember the fine points of the cases and laws, and speak out clearly. But I was more impressed when we worked with him in the multi-billion peso merger of PLDT and Smart. Precision of thought, clarity in language, a strong conviction for his advocacy -- he exhibited them all. A partner in the fabled ACCRA Law, he also runs a regular column on law in a national newspaper. His expertise appears to be corporate disputes.

NUMBER 9. Nicanor Gatmaitan This lawyer has a client who owed my client millions. He filed a case against us and prevented us from foreclosing on his clients' property. During the trial, he seamlessly made a clear presentation of his client's case, that I myself was convinced that he had case. He had no notes and he memorized each detail of our piles of documentary evidence. I spent sleepless nights on this man, thinking just how to get my client out of this fix. Now that I've given up the case, I say hats off to this man. He has a very good reputation as a trial lawyer. By the way, he is blind. NUMBER 8 Saklolo Leano

del Castillo's defense was that the description is not a personal attack but a political statement against imperialism in the Philippines. In the late nineties when a group of foreign banks was contemplating on filing a class suit against SGV. a lawyer-engineer with very impressive academic and professional credentials. the biggest accounting firm in the Philippines formerly affiliated with Andersen Consulting. Alas. whom Mr. Henares called "a monkey of foreign interests" and "small dick Romulo". Henares was acquitted. Bautista was the counsel for SGV. Bautista was given the rare privilege of presenting the most important witness in the impeachment trial before a nation in denial. Thus. Sak was our hitman against the French's expert witness. Mr.He is considered as one of the few experts in aviation law and is constantly battling the world's best lawyers in this field. An expert in libel. Smith. with his pleasant and clear voice told the witness. Mario Bautista's good reputation as a litigation lawyer has been well known among business circles in the Philippines. . in all its libel cases. organized. At one high point of the crossexamination. Del Castillo goes to trial in great looking suits." We won PHP 700 million in that case. Atty. "Mr. Mr. Sak cross-examined the expert witness like a cook peeling off the skin of an onion. I saw him in action in defense of Hilarion Henares. He was subtle. the nation's most widely circulated newspaper. the nation's favorite columnist. Romulo "small dick" because he is a short guy and his nickname happens to be Dick. Sak. Mr. Del Castillo is the perfect marriage of lawyerly form and substance. His law firm Poblador Bautista & Reyes is the counsel of choice of the Ayalas. In spite of the lack of time to prepare. Mr. he is the defender of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. and many other big companies in the Philippines. the Philippines most successful and enduring business empire. Mr. Bautista litigation instinct served him well. The French tried his best to live up to his client's expectations but he was no match. precise. Mr. I had the privilege of working with him in the multibillion peso construction arbitration case against a French contractor and would forever be in awe of this great lawyer. NUMBER 7 MARIO BAUTISTA Long before the nation witnessed the prowess of this lawyer during the direct examination of the prosecution's star witness in the Erap Impeachment trial. logical and persuasive. against a powerful lawyer businessman. Bautista weathered every objection that the prosecution raised and made a clear and convincing story. I am very sorry to say this but you do not have the slightest respect for the Philippine courts. NUMBER 6 TOMAS DEL CASTILLO Atty. Henares also called Mr. speaks in deep baritone and is always prepared. it came as no surprise then that Mr.

His presentatiom is very thorough and his trial and argumentation skills beyond compare. I worked for this great laywer practically my entire professional life. As the managing partner of Picazolaw. FRANCISCO VILLARAZA AND AVELINO CRUZ . pictures. The case is now on appeal and observers believe that Mr. Atty. NUMBER 3 TONY CARPIO. he led the legal team that helped Metro Pacific purchase Fort Bonifacio. In the days of Bancom. In 1987." Thus. passport stamps. Picazo served as senior legal counsel. Renato Cayetano and Antonio Bautista. and the like. 10 out of 15 IPO's in a year were handled by Atty. He was able to support the alibi with tons of evidence. Mr. Picazo's Law Office. and legal brilliance is unquestionable that rightfully earns him a place in my Top Ten. his trial technique is always cautious and very careful with what goes into the record. Atty. in the trials involving the killing of a mother and her daughters. looked at this evidence with suspicion that the senator could have had a hand in their spurious prodution. Picazo bolted from PECABAR and founded Bautista Picazo Buyco Tan & Fider (later Atty. After the break-up of Bancom. Ongkiko always taught his lawyers the maxim "assume that you will lose. Atty. receipts. Atty. a prime real estate land in the heart of Metro Manila. Picazo is the investment banking and corporate lawyer of choice of all major investment and commercial banks in the Philippines. Ongkiko will score an upset when the case is reviewed by the higher courts. During the height of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) days of the Philippine Stock Market. co-founded the legendary PECABAR LAW OFFICE. Bautista will build his own firm). Ongkiko had presented a perfect alibi -Hubert Webb was in the United States when the killing took place. video clips. I believe this also makes my assessment credible. The deal was worth billions of pesos and was considered the deal of the century. However. a teen-ager and a four-year old. reportedly the first investmnet bank in the Philippines. The judge.NUMBER 5 ANTONIO A PICAZO Here I should make a disclaimer. together with Johnny Ponce Enrile. vast experience in corporate and banking law. He is hands down the best trial lawyer there is in the Philippines today. NUMBER 4 MARIO ONGKIKO The last big case that this great lawyer handled was the phenomenal indictment of Hubert Webb. a senator's son. Picazo's good work habits. Mr. however. he subsequently headed the legal department of Unionbank and thereafter.

Crescini is the trial lawyer of former Philippine President Joseph Estrada. and the winning ways. Some guns you use for big battles. Crescini has mastered the science of of litigation. Carpio Villaraza and Cruz met the challenge of being at the prime spot of the Philippine legal world. Individually. the elements of style. the three lawyers are best known for building a formidable private legal institution which easily puts them on a three way tie for number 3. Carpio got appointed as presidential legal counsel by Pres. Simeon Marcelo. Now. That case was tough and only Atty.The above lawyers belong to the most powerful law firm in the Philippines today. at their disposal. Tony Carpio sits as the youngest member of the Supreme Court and is certain to outlive everyone in the 15-man court and to become Chief Justice one day. his most famous client is Congressman Jalosjos. Crescini might just be Erap's beacon of hope. coupled with a bevy of young and agressive associates.He is a veteran slugger of the court room. In the six years that Mr. If Erap didn't stand a chance with his former lawyers. Nowadays. The fighter of hopeless causes. Cresicini is a bazooka. Atty. NUMBER TWO PROSPERO CRESCINI I have always maintained that lawyers are like guns. No flashes. His trial technique can be compared to Clarence Darrow. Simeon Marcelo is serving seven years as Ombudsman. NUMBER 1 ESTELITO MENDOZA It is a testament to this lawyer's great abilities that it has been 17 years since the . Hands down. Just pure legal brilliance and hard work. Upon the election of Joseph Estrada. Being brilliant minds in their own right. the Firm can dare say that it can solve any legal problem endorsed to it for appropriate action. Fidel V. The group's star first shone after Mr. Some guns you use for keeping your house protected. they can land on any one's top ten.In this regard. Only Francisco Villaraza is left to hold the fort. Villaraza and Cruz were left to mind the Firm as Tony Carpio led business to the Firm's door. Villaraza and Cruz handled many intricate and complicated legal projects. in the era of Pres. Ramos was president. leading the attack as he conducted the direct examination of the whistle blower and star witness Ilocos Governor Luis Singson. Crescini had the guts to fight it out to the end. But having a key person in the most powerful offices of the Philippines. he is the Philippines's number 2 best lawyer. the three re-gouped and re-emerged in the impeachment proceedings with their most seasoned litigator. the congressman who had sex with an 11 year old girl and was convicted of statutory rape. Gloria Macapagal. most of which graduated with honors from the nation's top law schools. but together. Avelino Cruz is the Chief Legal Counsel of the President. Ramos. Atty. Atty. Atty. No frills.

In that seven years.Marcos's chief lawyer. people will probably think I'm not being objective. that's cool. I grew from an over-eager. If I were to add a second list of Top Ten if will be filled up by partners from PICAZO. The list they have of the leading practitioners in the Philippines are expanded. Mendoza handles only the most important cases of the most important personalities in the Philippines today. Actually. Atty. They missed Nicanor Gatmaytan. But I maintain them here. the liigation group of my former law firm PICAZO BUYCO TAN FIDER & SANTOS landed on the top of Property and Construction practice areas (after all these years) and even made it to the list of Dispute Resolution practice area (after being ignored for a long time). idealistic. 2003 On My Own Today. consultants and thousands of lawyers.legal500. The principal reason is the big construction arbitration case we handled last year for a property giant. hungry and aggressive young lawyer to an over-eager.that is the exact time that it took me to decide I had enough. Seven years -. Some of my Top Ten not are there. I tendered my resignation from the Firm. Well. Estrellita Gacutan for banking and Cynthia Literegalde de la Paz for capital markets. It is no wonder that Atty. Alex Erlito Fider for Telecommunications. they would have realized that the other partners of the firm also deserved a spot in each of the practice areas. with all its resources. if they had investigated further. Gemma Santos for mergers and acquisition. idealistic. Share | posted by marvin at 8:10 PM 0 comments Monday. Mendoza's presence can best be described as electric and bring people to the gallery as if trials were a boxing match. It is also a testament to his abilites that most of his law clerks are now members of the Supreme Court. Villraza and Cruz and Prospero Crescini.com. In normal trials. Legal500 also cited several of the partners of the firm for their excellent work such as Purisimo Buyco for dispute resolution. . January 06. considering that he served for many years as Pres. Carpio.Marcoses were thrown out of power and the Philippine Government. Also. has yet to win a single conviction against any of the members Marcos family or cronies. Joseph Estrada's impeachment lawyer. As Pres. His grasp of Philippine law in most areas of practice is deep. hungry and aggressive old lawyer. But then again. Court of Appeals or are occupying chief offices in the Philippine Government. Update: Check out www. he showed very fine lawyerly habits under the most extreme pressure ever imaginable.

blogspot. I am going to write my first law book. I am only working for myself. I am going to get paid by my own client. Henceforth. I learned why law practice is different from law school. Like the Tans resigning from a Mcdonald's restaurant. No mas. I am joining a Bey Blade tournament with my two sons. I am resigning to put up Jollibee. I am bringing my wife to see Lord of the Rings. It is going to be great. Like Kobe Bryant graduating from high school. http://lavidalawyer. I had the great privilege of working for a top gun Makati law firm and learning the tricks of the trade.My apprenticeship is done. I am going to teach my first law school class. I am going to be my own lawyer. Tapos na. I am no longer employed and vow never to be employed again. I am now in the play for pay league. I learned that law and justice are two different paradigms.com/ .

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