Legal industry rankings are an important benchmarking tool for buyers of legal services. They offer a clear indication as to which law firms and lawyers are most active, have the highest market reputation, and are working on the most significant legal matters – an independent seal of quality and assurance.
Increasingly, diversity and inclusion policies have become a consideration in the selection of outside counsel. Using data driven analysis of the latest rankings, this Legal Media 360 special report assesses gender diversity at the largest multi-practice domestic law firms in the Philippines.
The report examines data at three levels: 1) firm wide; 2) by practice area; and 3) by individual lawyer rankings. It will reveal:
- Which firms are most gender diverse;
- Whether gender diverse firms are more successful than male dominated firms;
- Whether female lawyers are being afforded the same opportunities as men; and
- If rising star data implies a more gender balanced future.
Results are based on the analysis of lawyer rankings in the following international publications: asialaw, Benchmark Litigation, Chambers and Partners, IAM1000, IFLR1000, IP Stars, Legal 500, and World Trademark Review 1000. These have been selected based on their multilateral research process, where peer and client reviews as well as submissions are used to determine the rankings.
For the purposes of this report, due to the variance in the categorization at atomic levels, lawyer rankings have been reclassified by Legal Media 360 to bring them together in a common scale without distorting the differences in the range of the values. This has been achieved by referring to the definitions provided by the publications.
Lawyers have been grouped on a five-tier scale:
- Senior Statesperson: Retired/semi-retired influential lawyers with close relationships with major institutional clients. Mainly work as a consultant.
- Tier 1: Leading lawyers who have an outstanding reputation and a strong track record for leading the most significant matters.
- Tier 2: Highly regarded lawyers who are active on significant matters.
- Up and Coming Lawyer: Lawyers establishing their reputation and have been recognised for assisting on significant matters. Potential to be a tiered lawyer in the future.
- Notable Practitioner: Lawyers who have had some market recognition and been on some notable matters. Not yet a tiered lawyer.
The 2022 dataset covers rankings published from June 2021 to June 2022. This timeframe ensures that similar matters submitted by the firms and evaluated by the above publications fall into the same research cycle.
Overall Gender Statistics
In the eight publications examined, a total of 269 lawyers in the Philippines were recognized.
The national average male to female ratio for Philippines law firms is 67 to 33 percent which, as can be seen from the charts, is slightly better than the overall Asia average of 71 to 29 percent:
Top 10 Firms with the Most Lawyer Recognitions
Commentary: Examining the law firms with the greatest number of lawyer recognitions reveals:
- Seven of the top 10 firms have better gender diversity ratios than the national average;
- MVGS and V&A are the most gender balanced firms;
- PJS has the greatest overall gender imbalance in favour of women;
- ACCRALAW has the greatest overall gender imbalance in favour of men.
When asked whether gender diversity policies contributed to their firm’s success, a spokesperson for V&A Law in Manila, said: “V&A Law recognises the importance of D&I in its success, but it is only half of the picture. V&A Law takes pains to ensure that its reputation for excellence continues to be well deserved and maintained through its output. Thus, at its core, V&A Law is a meritocracy where capability exceeds other factors like gender or sexuality. Acknowledgement and promotion of D&I merely removes the glass ceiling which women and members of the LGBTQA+ community normally suffer in workplaces. This is most evident in the composition of the firm’s leadership, where fourteen of the twenty-two partners are women who are individually recognised as leaders in their respective fields”.
Practice Area Level
Gender Representation by Practice Area
Commentary: The above chart shows the top 10 practice areas by recognized lawyer count. It is clear from the data that women lawyers are well represented in half of the 10 practice areas. Only Dispute Resolution is clearly lacking.
Lawyer Levels: Gender
Breakdown of Gender by Tier
Commentary: The lawyer tiers can be seen to reflect the development cycle in a lawyer’s career. Senior Statesperson represents those lawyers in their senior years. Tier 1, 2 and Notable Practitioners are lawyers at partner level, while Up and Coming Lawyers reflect the future representation of a law firm.
Data shows that Tier 1 and 2 lawyers are predominantly male, while Notable Practitioners and Up and Coming categories are more gender balanced. It should be noted that directories include both junior and senior lawyers in the Notable Practitioners category.
Top Lawyers by Practice Area with the Greatest Number of Tier 1 Rankings
Commentary: A breakdown of the top lawyers with the most Tier 1 recognitions shows that the representation of female lawyers at the top level is low. This suggests that despite the Philippines having a better gender balance than its regional peers, female lawyers are not leading the most significant matters.
Legal Media 360 also asked V&A Law whether the Philippines’ government encouraged firms to be more inclusive. Their spokesperson said: “The government’s initiatives in terms of promoting D&I are characterised more as penalising non-compliance, as opposed to incentivising compliance. Nonetheless, there are several laws which protect and promote equality, diversity, and inclusiveness in the workplace. Many Philippine laws on D&I relating to gender discrimination specifically advocate for women but some provide general anti-discrimination protection, regardless of gender”.