By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino, Special Features Writer
In a span of more than a decade, full-service law firm DivinaLaw has grown exponentially and has become one of the top-tier legal service providers in the country. It was able to distinguish itself from other traditional law firms by advocating and practicing dynamic lawyering, which involves prompt, proactive, and results-oriented service.
DivinaLaw was established in 2006 by top commercial lawyer and litigator Atty. Nilo T. Divina. Fueled by his passion and clear vision to succeed in the field, what was once a small firm which started with five attorneys now boasts of 60 members in its roster. From an office in Makati City alone, it has now affiliate offices in key cities nationwide and two additional offices in Cebu and Singapore.
In an interview with BusinessWorld, Atty. Divina, who is also a managing partner at DivinaLaw, recalled how he started the firm. Considering an established career in the old Equitable PCI Bank, which used to be one of the largest banks in the Philippines, setting up a law firm he could call his own was a hard decision, he said.
“I felt I have to move on. It was a tough call for me because my pay and other employments benefits were more than adequate,” Atty. Divina said. “I was, of course, encouraged by my friends that I can do better if I put up my own law firm. There was of course no assurance that I would succeed. So, it was a giant leap of faith.”
DivinaLaw started with only four clients: BDO Unibank, Inc., Equicom Group, Steel Asia Manufacturing Corp., and Premium Securities, Inc. They became the firm’s “ambassadors of goodwill or marketing agents”, promoting the firm by word-of-mouth endorsement in diverse industries, according to Mr. Divina.
Today, DivinaLaw has approximately 500 clients, including leading corporates in banking and finance, manufacturing, retail, power, oil and gas, education, health care and insurance, realty and property development, and technology.
As a full-service law firm, DivinaLaw’s practice includes the entire spectrum of the Philippine law. Its key practice areas cover Litigation, Corporate and Special Projects, Crisis Management and Communication, and Taxation and Estate Planning.
“We are not the traditional law firm, we are dynamic. Our mind-set is to always find ways and means, to explore uncharted territory and do everything necessary to deliver superior results to our clients and give them peace of mind, of course, all within the bounds of law, ethics and reason,” Atty. Divina said.
In an emerging and challenging market like the Philippines, DivinaLaw continues to prosper by giving its clients the best legal services possible. In line with the country’s new tax reform, which has taken effect in the first day of the year, DivinaLaw provides a whole range of tax services that answer the diverse needs of its clients.
The firm’s tax practice group is committed to assisting clients in ensuring compliance with tax laws, managing tax implications, and rendering tax planning advice and opinions on various commercial and financial matters. It also helps clients in securing tax rulings, opinions and clearances from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and other related agencies. Furthermore, the group handles tax litigation, tax assessments, tax protests, and claims for refund.
Atty. Divina said that the firm’s tax group continues to grow with Atty. Roberto L. Tan as the head, whom he described as “one of the best tax lawyers in the country.” Similar to its other divisions, positions in the tax group are filled-up by competent lawyers who come from the country’s best law schools.
“These tax lawyers are not your conservative lawyers; they are creative, they are innovative, they are dynamic and always of course within the bounds of law and reason. Their mind-set is not to tell the client how difficult the tax laws are, their mind-set is to help the clients be more efficient and effective,” Atty. Divina said.
To ensure the competence of its tax lawyers, especially with the changing times, Atty. Divina said that they send them to local and international trainings and seminars, encourage them to join tax associations and groups, and require them to converse with other tax experts to acquire new ideas.
In the coming years, Atty. Divina said they want to expand its office in Makati by adding a legal resource center. He added that they want to position the firm as the go-to law firm when it comes to corporate matters and issues.
In terms of expanding its geographical footprint outside the country, Atty. Divina said that they have plans to establish branches in China and Australia, and to become a regional law firm.
Above all, the firm’s commitment to its clients remain unchanged. As Atty. Divina said: “Our clients’ problems are our problems. Our clients’ challenges are our challenges. We share their concerns and would like to give them peace of mind. Client satisfaction is our burning passion.”