Social progress has actively played its part in framing the legal industry. It is apparent that the industry we know now has taken decades to take form. As we develop as a society, improvements in the legal system also transpired. It takes years of practice and hard work to know and understand laws. But with laws changing constantly, it can be difficult for lawyers to keep up, and it can be even more challenging for laymen to completely understand the laws. Being in the legal industry is interesting and challenging at the same time. Just like in every industry, the legal industry is also lacking in experts who understand the industry in its totality.
Nilo T. Divina who currently serves as Managing Partner at DivinaLaw, however, knows and understands this industry like the back of his hands. Prior to founding DivinaLaw, Nilo was Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Equitable PCI Bank, now BDO Unibank, one of the largest banks in the Philippines. Nilo is equally active with his roles in the academe, serving as the Dean of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law since 2009 and teaching in the University of the Philippines College of Law. He is likewise recognized in the Philippines as one of the top experts in Commercial Law and is a sought-after bar reviewer and legal consultant.
Nilo had over a decade of experience as a corporate and banking lawyer. This experience helped him establish DivinaLaw in 2006. Sharing his experience during the initial days, he expresses, “It was just simply good luck and great opportunities every step of the way. From 4 clients, we now have hundreds of clients. From 220 square meter office space, we now occupy 2,400 square meter office. From 5 lawyers, we now have 72 and still counting.”
Incepted 15 years ago, DivinaLaw is currently one of the biggest law firms in the Philippines. While many leaders miscalculate the journey of their company by aiming too high and taking unnecessary risks, this was not the case with Nilo. He understood the importance of taking a calculative risk and adapting to changes. This quality distinguishes him from other leaders in the field.
Initially, Nilo envisioned DivinaLaw to be a boutique law firm that focuses on certain practice areas. His aim was simply to make enough to provide a comfortable life to his family, as well as to his lawyers and staff. However, with years of hard work and constant determination to provide better services to the clientele, the stars changed directions for him and the company. One event led to another and opportunities started lining up one after the other, and before he knew it, DivinaLaw has metamorphosed into a full-service law firm. A dream come true for any entrepreneur. A perfect tale with a constant reminder to always work towards the goal.
DivinaLaw takes pride in advocating and practicing dynamic lawyering—prompt, proactive, and result-oriented. It offers 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. The firm focuses on understanding the client’s needs to provide the best legal service possible. As every client is different and has different requirements, the firm acknowledges the expectations of the clients first. Then, it aims to exceed their expectations.
The firm operates based on five philosophies — grit, integrity, loyalty, teamwork, and commitment. DivinaLaw believes in making the clients’ challenges as their own. It motivates the team to push themselves to the limit to give their clients peace of mind. Nilo and the team always strive towards thinking out of the box. This helps the team explore uncharted territories. “We open doors and we find ways. Client satisfaction is our burning passion,” adds Nilo.
For any organization, it is important to have a strong foundation, and such is the case for DivinaLaw. To attain excellence in its offerings, it follows a strict procedure in hiring only the most qualified and experienced lawyers in their respective fields. This provides DivinaLaw an extra edge over other firms. Moreover, the recruitment process is designed in such a manner that the firm only hires the top graduates from the leading law schools in the Philippines. This enables the firm to cater to the entire spectrum of Philippine Law with ease.
DivinaLaw has been consistently growing its unique range of services and portfolio of clients. One of the key reasons behind this is the strong relationship between the employees and employer. “I made my firm an army and a family. An army for clients—fully committed to going to war to protect our clients’ interest, but a family to my lawyers and staff where genuine affection and concern for one another abound,” states Nilo. Certainly, every employer has to make the appropriate adjustments dictated by circumstances. However, the welfare of the employees should always be prioritized. This, in turn, fosters unity and solidarity between management and staff which enables the company to weather challenges and difficulties no matter how daunting they may be.
The solidarity between the team and management helped DivinaLaw excel as a law firm, and this did not escape the notice of Lawyers Associated Worldwide (LAW), a top-rated international association of over 100 independent law firms from more than 50 countries. LAW has invited DivinaLaw to be its member – so far the only Philippine law firm on its roster.
What was once envisioned to be a boutique law firm is now a full-service law firm, with DivinaLaw’s 10 major practice areas being Litigation, Corporate & Special Projects, Labor, Arbitration & Alternative Dispute Resolution, Tax & Estate Planning, Intellectual Property, Immigration & Naturalization, E-Commerce & Technology, Risk & Crisis Management, and Legal Education, Legislative Advocacy & Policy Reform.
Furthermore, the firm continues to expand its clientele reach. Aside from establishing a branch in Cebu City in 2012, DivinaLaw also partnered with 10 local law firms from all over the Philippines to complement its corporate, commercial, and arbitration-related services.
The global pandemic of 2020 was not foreseen by anyone. However, Nilo and his team were accustomed to change and thus thrived during the challenging times. The team used this time to incorporate new means in their operations. Furthermore, Nilo highlighted that constant communication with all business stakeholders—especially the employees— is vital. The Firm has explored and used available communication platforms like Viber, Telegram, and Facebook to connect with the stakeholders.
DivinaLaw recently organized a financial advisory company, intending to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that the Financial Institution Strategic Transfer (FIST) Law is likely to bring. This law will allow banks and financial institutions to dispose of their bad loans and assets to an SPV usually for a large discount. The company is also investing in technologies, and many more projects are in the works. Hinting at these initiatives, Nilo adds, “We continue to innovate. We do not intend to run out of trailblazing initiatives.”