EA Law takes pride in leading the country’s education law

A STABLE legal landscape is essential for the emergence of law-abiding nations. Lawyering, a craft often held in high regard, embodies the ideals of integrity, competence, public service, and continuous learning. While the Philippines’ legal industry maintains its soaring competency today, its evolving policies and environment also call for greater efforts from practicing and would-be Filipino lawyers.

For an emerging law firm like the Estrada & Aquino (EA) Law, whose biggest accomplishment is its contribution in the educational sector, the major driver of economic development in the country is education itself. The firm specializes in the field of education law and has counseled schools, legislators, policymakers, and implementers in the area, which often involves labor cases filed by a faculty, being a defendant in a civil case for damages, and finding an educational institution at the end of an unreasonable government regulation. With the pressing issues in education that need to be addressed, EA Law’s response is to spread awareness among its stakeholders.

Niche lawyering

According to Joseph Noel Estrada, managing partner at EA Law, the firm has carved its own niche in the fields of family law, commercial litigation, political law, business law, and corporate law. Keeping up with the trends in law practice, he says, also helps the firm improve its overall operations. “Like in any organization, aspiring for improvement and change is always a good sign,” he stresses in an email interview with The Manila Times. “This is one of the values that we instill in our lawyers.”

Joseph Noel Estrada, managing partner at Estrada and Aquino Law, and senior partner Terese Ray Anne Aquino

One thing inherent with EA Law, he notes, is its openness to change, especially in this age, where everything evolves rapidly. He adds that the firm positions itself to adapt to changes in the way people and clients look at the practice of law. “When I started my practice and later on put up EA Law, there had been positive changes and improvements,” he says. “I am very pleased to say that education law, which has not been given much-needed attention for many years, is now gaining its deserved relevance and significance in the practice of law.”

Estrada relates that EA Law empowers emerging lawyers to deal with clients directly so they could develop confidence and learn to stand out. “I also hope that more law schools include education law as part of the curriculum to prepare future lawyers for this special branch of law,” he says.

EA Law, which provides legal services to clients in education field, played major roles toward the enactment of educational reforms such as the K-to-12 Law, the Unified Student Financial Assistance in Tertiary Education (Unifast Law), and very recently, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law. It also continues to advocate for the complementarity of public and private educational institutions, academic freedom, and quality education. No wonder it currently initiates reforms on the compensation of teachers, reasonable regulation of schools, and state funding of private education.

As part of its corporate social responsibility, meanwhile, EA Law launched its “Law for Life Project,” an initiative that extends legal assistance to indigent clients, pro bono. Having partnered with a number of organizations—such as the Zonta Districts and the Saint Michael’s College (of Laguna)—for this project, the firm now focuses on cases involving women and children.

‘Preventive lawyering’

Practicing what it calls as “preventive lawyering,” EA Law helps representative clients wheel through complex transactions with strong research foundation and diligent preparation. This way, the firm is able to help its clients reduce their litigation costs and needs—which, actually, is an evolution from the traditional mindset of hiring lawyers for getting into legal battles right away. Avoiding protracted trials and costly suits, the firm believes, should be the primary objective for its representatives and corporate clients.

Wanting to diversify its practice specialties, EA Law has expanded its menu of services for both existing and prospective clients, thus expanding its market base as well. Through the initiatives of Terese Ray Anne Aquino, senior partner, EA Law started penetrating into data privacy practice, global business, transactional practice, and antitrust law, which, according to the firm, are fairly new in the Philippines, what with the recent enactment of the Philippine Competition Law and the Data Privacy Act.

Client satisfaction and talent acquisition

For EA Law, one of the pitfalls of law practice is paying attention to all aspects rather than digging deep into the most important and crucial ones. This provokes the firm to focus only on talent acquisition and client satisfaction as crucial aspects of its practice to maintain its growth and success. “Getting things done instantly equates to client satisfaction,” Estrada says. “The ongoing success of the firm is largely attributed to client satisfaction.”

In the legal industry where marketing is extremely regulated, Estrada stresses, lawyers usually rely on maintaining a good reputation. He adds that client satisfaction is also an indicator whether a law firm would likely increase its chances of continuity and of generating new businesses in the future. “Keeping clients satisfied is not an overnight work,” he emphasizes. “And it is not just about providing them legal services, we also build and value our relationships with them. Clients are not just files in our docket; they are people with real stories to tell and we handle their legal needs with genuine concern and compassion.”

Noting that talent acquisition is crucial in business growth in terms of capacity-building, Estrada says, “Getting the right lawyers and training them is quite a challenge nowadays.”

Emphasizing that what EA Law considers as the biggest challenge in the profession is losing good lawyers to indifference, Estrada said, “Lawyers play an important role in the society. And we need to keep good and principled lawyers in the practice. The challenge in the industry is how to keep good lawyers committed to their oath and away from the lures of money, fame, and power.”