and Mark O. Vergara
By Angela Kiara S. Brillantes
Despite the past years under the pandemic, Martinez Vergara & Gonzalez Sociedad (MVGS) saw steady progress in the legal industry as it expanded in Asia and strengthened its position as a cross-border firm. The expansive expertise and capability of MVGS when it comes to providing legal services have driven the law firm to establish its reputation and to continually thrive as one of the best firms in the Philippines.
“The outbreak of the pandemic served as a great driver for MVGS to reexamine its capabilities at both organizational and individual levels, with the aim of not just surviving but of thriving amidst the crisis,” Atty. Manuel Z. Gonzalez, senior partner at MVGS, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.
The young law firm is known for its expertise in the fields of Banking and Finance, Capital Markets, Mergers and Acquisitions, Projects and Energy, Real Estate and Construction, Intellectual Property, Litigation, Dispute Resolution, Labor and Employment, Business Formation and Foreign Investment, Immigration, Antitrust and Competition, Taxation, Restructuring and Insolvency, and Corporate Services.
The need to adopt technological developments to be able to provide relevant legal services to clients has long been recognized by the legal industry, with said need becoming more apparent in the past few years.
The firm adopted many changes within the organization in order to adjust to the disruptions the pandemic has brought. MVGS employed systems for effective remote work arrangements; cloud technology for storing, managing, and sharing documents; business communication platforms for business operations and communication purposes with employees and clients; e-signatures for efficient transactions; and time-tracking applications for monitoring productivity within the organization.
While digitalization brings benefits to business operations, firms are also at risk when it comes to cyberattacks. Implementing cybersecurity is thus essential as well for firms, and in the case of MVGS, the firm invested in offsite data storage and online security to protect from cyberattacks, including hacking and cybercrime within the organization.
“These steps [digital solutions] not only allowed the firm to implement offsite and hybrid work arrangements but also enabled more convenient and faster access of clients to the Firm’s lawyers for legal services. Employing digital solutions allowed MVGS to expand its reach and engage with clients based outside of Metro Manila and even the country,” Atty. Gonzalez shared.
As MVGS celebrated its 15th year in the legal industry in 2022, the firm continues to live up to its reputation as a leading legal firm in the country, as it has earned recognition from esteemed rankings and directories of leading law firms, such as The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, IFLR 1000, Chambers and Partners Asia Pacific, and AsiaLaw.
In recognition of the firm’s recent achievements, MVGS also was ranked as a Tier 1 firm for Banking and Finance, Capital Markets, Immigration, Labour and Employment, Projects and Energy, and Real Estate and Construction by the Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2023. Whereas, for Corporate and M&A, Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property, and Tax, the firm was ranked as Tier 2.
On top of the firm’s recognition, MVGS lawyers have also received recognition as top professionals and counsel in various fields. Attys. Shirley F. Alinea and Eduardo A. Martinez are recognized as renowned experts in the field of Dispute Resolution; Attys. Rosalia S. Bartolome-Alejo and Mark O. Vergara for Banking and Finance; and Atty. Manuel Z. Gonzalez for Projects and Energy.
Additionally, since 2020, Atty. Martinez was listed as one of the country’s top lawyers in the Philippines Top 100 Lawyers in the A-List of Philippines’s Top 100 Lawyers by Asia Legal Business.
“MVGS always aims to match its clients’ needs with appropriate strategies and legal services of the highest quality in a cost-efficient and timely manner. With its reputation for being an innovative and business-oriented law firm, MVGS has cemented its position in the legal industry and enjoys the confidence and trust of its local and foreign clients, including some of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates and institutional clients,” Atty. Bartolome-Alejo said.
On October 2021, the firm has partnered with Drew Network Asia (DNA), a formidable blue-chip legal network consisting of top-tier South East Asian law firms, such as Drew & Napier LLC, Makiram & Taira S., and Shearn Delamore & Co. The partnership with DNA resulted in the firm’s regional expansion while strengthening and diversifying the firm’s legal services. The addition of MVGS expanded DNA’s regional footprint in ASEAN which now boasts more than 480 fee earners and 150 partners in four countries: Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The firm has also maintained active membership across disciplines, namely the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc., Philippine Institute of Arbitrators, Dispute Resolution Board Foundation, Tax Management Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institutes of the Philippines, Philippine Judicial Academy, TrustLaw, and the Intellectual Property Association of the Philippines.
A key takeaway from the pandemic years was that hybrid work or full remote work can bring and even further enable efficiency and productivity at work. Yet, for firms like MVGS, face-to-face interaction is still seen as an important part of their work.
“The legal profession, being one established and built on trust, however still requires regular personal interactions. Requirements of law have also not fully adopted digital solutions which means that secure offices for files, records, and documents, are still needed even post-pandemic,” Atty. Bartolome-Alejo said.
The MVGS partners also shared that the firm is looking to establish satellite offices outside of Manila as it recognizes the wider range of clients they are now able to reach, as well as the viability of working offsite with minimal capital required for the establishment of a physical space for operations.
“MVGS is also committed to keeping up to date with latest trends to ensure that it is able to competently and efficiently meet its clients’ needs,” Atty. Gonzalez added.