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This is an extraordinary narrative of a seasoned corporate and banking lawyer with more than three decades of extensive industry experience. Atty. Nilo T. Divina embarked upon his entrepreneurial journey by establishing DivinaLaw in 2006. Since its inception, there has been no turning back as he led the aggressive growth of the firm in a short period, making it one of the biggest law firms in the Philippines today.

For this exceptional cover story, we sat down for a freewheeling conversation with the ‘Filipino magnate’ and came across some valuable business insights and ‘food for thought’, speaking volumes of his extraordinary success. With this elegant ‘read’, we avidly believe that Nilo’s story will prove to be a motivational capsule to our cosmopolitan readership, kindling the entrepreneurial flames in their hearts.

Nilo was the former Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of one of the former leading banks in the Philippines before incepting his firm. Moreover, he once served as the General Manager, Executive Adviser to the Board, and Corporate Secretary of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office before entering private law practice. Also steering the wheels of his venture as the Managing Partner, Nilo owns a reputation of a personal lawyer for some of the country’s prominent personalities, well-acclaimed across finance and business space.

His multi-faceted personality has allowed him to explore the untapped potential as he happened to serve as the Dean of the Faculty of Civil Law of the University of Santo Tomas since 2009 and has also taught in the University of the Philippines College of Law. The luminary is likewise well-reckoned in the Philippines as one of the top experts in Commercial Law and is the most sought-after Bar reviewer and legal consultant.

Nilo’s portfolio says he has authored five books in Commercial Law- all considered as essential resource material for law students and practicing lawyers. Amid the peak of the covid pandemic, two of his ‘treatises’- “Questions & Answers on the Revised Corporation Code” and “Divina on Commercial Law: A Comprehensive Guide” (Vol. 1 & 2) – were released and gained popularity among law practitioners and students alike.

As an inspiring persona as an academician, practicing lawyer and managing partner, he has bagged multiple awards, citations and accolades by some prestigious media and publication houses. With his intuitive leadership and pioneering strategies to manage a law firm, Nilo has made a reputable name for DivinaLaw as a dynamic law firm, asserting prominence across the industry.

Known for its championed, dynamic lawyering, DivinaLaw has been dominating its niche for 15 years now. Throughout its inspiring journey, the firm has been venerated and recognized by its peer institutions– esteemed and admired by its competitors. It has been cherished and relied upon by its clients as a full-service law firm in the Philippines that provides prompt, proactive, and results-oriented services to facilitate client satisfaction. Catering depth and range in experience and resources while fostering a professional and collaborative work ethic, the firm has managed to carve an influence for itself in the legal services industry.

“At the time of DivinaLaw’s establishment in 2006, I never imagined its resounding success after 15 years. Today, it has become one of the leading law firms in the Philippines. 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,” quoted the Managing Partner.

As opportunities came one after another, he managed to metamorphose his venture into a full-fledged law firm. He accredits the success of his vision as well as a mission to avail of credible legal services to those in need of his determination, perseverance and optimism.

Today, DivinaLaw is the sole Philippine member of Lawyers Associated Worldwide (LAW), a top-rated international association of over 100 independent law firms from more than 50 countries. It is also the sole Philippine member of Legalink, a leading international association of independent law firms.

When asked to unveil the leading edge that has made the firm stand out of the crowd, Nilo states that zestful lawyering encapsulates the philosophy of the firm. The team will do everything (within the bounds of ethics) to deliver outstanding results for its clients. Moreover, innovation is their focal point to ensure the happiness and victory of its clients.

“We innovate, we think out of the box, we explore uncharted territory. We find ways, we open doors. Client satisfaction is our burning passion,”_ asserts the dignitary

Innovating in this space was fairly novel back in 2006, as players here kept thriving on the traditional approach. Lawyers’ foremost responsibility is to make common people aware of the laws and their utilization to suit a person’s objectives that are consistent with the law.

Being a pioneer in the field of legal services, Nilo has contributed majorly by making the law accessible to all via his “A Dose of Law” column at the Daily Tribune. This exclusive column observed its third anniversary on June 4, 2021. The column boasts of having 400 published articles to date written on a wide range of legal topics with a diverse readership in five out of seven continents. Talking of the readership, over 2.2 million readers via the Firm’s website and Facebook page view this column for legal information. And day by day, its popularity is stretching across more and more masses globally.

When questioned on what has been the most satisfying aspect of commencing this firm, Nilo responded, “So many things to be thankful for. I have wonderful lawyers and staff. While I provide the vision, the cash infusion, I need a team of lawyers and staff who will share my vision and goals. And I am thankful that I have my lawyers and staff who are committed to achieving our goals.”

Undeniably, the covid-19 crisis has stirred heavy disruptions in our lives in the most unimaginable ways. Shattering conventional norms and customs, we are forced to make an accord with the ‘new normal’ scenario. But Nilo has been quite optimistic in this direction and asserted people to not grudgingly equate the new norm with problems and inconveniences only. He enunciates that drawing from the inner strength of our faith we should keep seeking better ways to deal better with obstacles or hurdles.

“Every challenge means that we should continue to inspire others into thinking and acting that academic and professional endeavours need not be sacrificed despite daunting situations. It means to continue reinventing ourselves, to rise above the situation and get the better of this pandemic. The pandemic should be no match to the indomitable will of the human spirit, the power of innovation, and strong faith in God,” he continues.

As a testament to the firm’s excellent work, the clientele of DivinaLaw has become its foremost marketing agent and ambassador of goodwill. A majority of the clientele of the company is of the top echelon- business tycoons/titans who bring them business via ‘word of mouth’ marketing, driven by client satisfaction. A plethora of conglomerates, top corporations, and high net worth individuals reach out to the firm, seeking impeccable legal advice/services where hiring the best legal minds helps them to deliver at par solutions.

Moreover, being the Dean of the UST Faculty of Civil Law, Nilo has been delivering scholarships to deserving students for the past few years. His insightfulness allows him to hire the students who are apt in their academics and efficient in the real-time scenarios- the cream of the crop. He ensures that they survive rigorous vetting and share the values of the firm when it comes to client dealings.

“I have assembled an army as well as a family. An army for clients—fully committed to going to war to protect our clients and interest, but a family to my lawyers and staff where genuine affection and concern for one another abounds,” affirms the thoughtful leader regarding the culture he has established in DivinaLaw.

The firm has been in the industry for a decade now and it has only scaled greater heights while establishing deep roots in its journey so far. The success of DivinaLaw could be attested by its numerous milestones and achievements since its inception. A few of the worthy mentions have been enlisted below-

  • The Asia Business Law Journal has recognized DivinaLaw as an award-winning firm in the categories of Banking and Finance, Corporate and Commercial, Litigation, Private Equity and Venture Capital, and Restructuring and Insolvency in 2020.
  • The Firm has also been conferred the Labor and Employment Law Firm of the Year in 2016 and Immigration Law Firm of the Year in 2018 in the Asian Legal Business Philippine Law Awards.
  • DivinaLaw has been ranked among the best in the region, having been honoured as a finalist for the SE Asia Law Firm of the Year category of Asian Legal Business Southeast Asia Law Awards in 2018 and 2019.
  • The Firm was also a finalist for Regional Litigation Law Firm of the Year in 2018 and 2019, and Tax and Trusts Law Firm of the Year in 2019.
  • Since 2018, Nilo has consistently been named among the Top 100 Lawyers in the Philippines by the Asia Business Law

In 2021, he was awarded Managing Partner of the Year in the Asian Legal Business (ALB) Philippine Law Awards and was also among the highly recommended lawyers in ALB magazine’s Philippines Client Choice Lawyers. In terms of the future, the firm has been envisioned to make growth in leaps and bounds. Nilo wishes it to continue to grow and glow with time. “A firm that continues to dream and gathers friends, clients, and hopefully, more accolades along the way,” concludes Nilo before signing off from the conversation.

There are two factors to great success: one is the state of your mind. That is grit. That is determination. The second is the state of your heart. That is where giving, compassion, and faith are found. Far above any mental toughness, it is the softness of your heart that sets you up for long-term success. Commit yourselves to the task of living a well-lived life. Persist more, give more, love more; make the most of every opportunity.

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