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Nilo Divina, Managing Partner at DivinaLaw, Speaks to The Silicon Review: ‘Client Satisfaction is Our Burning Passion’

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“We take pride in advocating and practicing dynamic lawyering—prompt, proactive, and result-oriented.”

DivinaLaw is a Philippines-based premiere law firm engaged in primary practice areas, including Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Corporate and Special Services, Tax and Estate Planning, Crisis Management and Communications, and Legal Education and Policy Reform.

The firm continues to distinguish itself by its commercial law expertise and a high litigation success rate. It represents industry leaders in finance, banking, healthcare, education, mining, oil and energy, retail, real estate, and many others.

Through its prompt, proactive, and results-oriented approach, DivinaLaw has become the youngest law firm in the top tier of the Philippine legal landscape, with over 70 lawyers on its roster.

The firm is headquartered in Makati City, Philippines.

Interview Excerpt: Nilo Divina

Q. DivinaLaw is a premiere Philippines law firm. How did this idea come to your mind? Was there any prior experience that led you to the establishment of the firm?

When I put up the firm in 2006, I never imagined that after 15 years, it would turn out to be one of the biggest law firms in the country. All I envisioned was to be a boutique law firm that would focus on select areas of practice, then make enough money to provide a comfortable life to my family, as well as lawyers and staff. But, one event led to another, and opportunities came one after the other, and before I knew it, it has metamorphosed into a full-service law firm. Before putting up my law firm, I was Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Equitable PCI Bank, now BDO.

Q. What were the roadblocks that you had to overcome during the initial years?

No roadblocks, thankfully. It was just simply good luck and great opportunities every step of the way. From four clients, we now have hundreds of clients. From 220 square meter office space, we now occupy 2,400 square meter office. From five lawyers, we now have 72 and still counting.

Q. Could you describe your typical management style and the type of employee that works well with you?

I made my firm an army and a family. An army for clients­—fully committed to going to war to protect their interest, but a family to my lawyers and staff where genuine affection and concern for one another abound.

Q. What is your company’s policy on providing seminars, workshops, and training so the employees can keep up on their skills or acquire new skills?

Personnel training and development for both lawyers and non-legal staff is one of the firm’s priorities. Constant learning is key to the continuously evolving business landscape.

Q. Tell me about a situation where you were under a great deal of pressure because of numerous demands competing for your time and attention. How did you handle the situation?

I had my own share of challenges. As Dean of the UST Faculty of Civil Law, I was charged with obstruction of justice over a neophyte's death in a non-sanctioned hazing activity. Simultaneously with that event, my firm and I became the subject of a vicious media attack in that I allegedly paid commissions to a certain public official. The first case was dismissed, and the second is entirely untrue. I resolved the situation by fighting for my name with all I got, coupled with intense prayer. A clean conscience can weather everything and will eventually result in triumph and vindication.

Q. Delineate a short overview of the services your firm offer.

We are a full-service law firm. We take pride in advocating and practicing dynamic lawyering—prompt, proactive, and result-oriented. We offer depth and range in experience and resources and a professional, collaborative work ethic—qualities that clients appreciate in an emerging and challenging market like the Philippines.

Q. What are the key factors that determine your company’s success? And what are you doing to stay ahead of the curve?

Grit, integrity, loyalty, and teamwork, and the commitment to the firm's philosophy—our clients' challenges are our own. We push ourselves to the limit to give them peace of mind. We think out of the box. We explore uncharted territory. We open oors, and we find ways. Client satisfaction is our burning passion.

Q. What new endeavors is your company currently undertaking?

We continue to innovate. We have just recently organized a financial advisory company. We intend to create a special purpose vehicle to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that the Financial Institution Strategic Transfer (FIST) law is likely to bring. This law allows banks and financial institutions to dispose of their bad loans and assets to an SPV, usually for a large discount. We are investing in technology. We have many more projects in the pipeline. We do not intend to run out of trailblazing initiatives.

Q. About your plans, where do you see your firm in a couple of years?

A firm that continues to grow, dream, and gather friends, clients, and hopefully, more accolades along the way. The moment you stop dreaming, you stop growing.

“When I put up the firm in 2006, I never imagined that after 15 years, it would turn out to be one of the biggest law firms in the country.”