Every year, thousands of law graduates take the bar exams. Last year, a record 7,227 hopefuls were allowed by the Supreme Court to take the tests that aspiring lawyers must pass to practice law and appear in courts.
Many of the bar takers who pass the exam eventually end up working in one of the country’s thousands of law firms. Some of these firms become quite famous that they become household names, either by handling a prominent case or client, or by having one of their partners become a top official of the government or the judiciary.
Unknown to many, these law firms are also business entities—mostly partnerships, though some are either corporations or single proprietorships. As business entities, they also file financial statements to reflect revenues and net income, or net losses.
To find out which of the best-known law firms make the most money, Entrepreneur Philippines compiled a list of the most prominent of them, using lists prepared by organizations that keep track of law firms all over the world. We relied on lists made by Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500, two recognized ranking companies in the world. As of April 18, we found 36 law firms from the Philippines—11 from Chambers and Partners, 14 from The Legal 500 and another 11 from both.
We then checked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for information on the law firms, such as their type of business organization, whether they are partnerships or corporations, registration date, founders and the latest revenue and profit or loss numbers.
Out of the 36 law firms, we found records of 31 law firms on file with the SEC’s i-View online records system. However, financial statements are available only on 22 of the 31 law firms. Unfortunately, many of the financial statements are quite dated. Including only those that have financial statements for 2013 and subsequent years, we trimmed the list further to only 15.
SyCip, Salazar, Hernandez & Gatmaitan (SyCipLaw), which claims to be the country’s biggest law firm with four offices nationwide, is by far the biggest-earning law firm in the country with recorded revenues of Php983.3 million in 2015. Its profits amounted to Php317.6 million that year, which is more than the net income of more than half of the country’s top 1,000 corporations in 2015 as compiled by BusinessWorld newspaper.
Registered with the SEC in 1950, SyCipLaw practices in 20 different legal areas, spanning advertising and media, intellectual property, trade law and customs regulations, etc. Aside from its Manila office, the firm is also present in Davao, Cebu and Subic.
Del Rosario & Del Rosario (DelRosarioLaw) comes in at a far second in the list, with revenues of Php278.9 million in 2015 and net income of Php134.1 million. DelRosarioLaw was registered in 1936, making it the oldest registered law firm among all the firms on the list. It has offices in Manila and Cebu.
Following closely in the third place is Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose Law Firm with revenues of Php260.5 million in 2015 and profits of Php108.5 million.
The eleven firms listed by Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 that either don’t have records with the SEC or have dated filings are also listed in the infographic above. Entrepreneur Philippines reached out to these eleven firms but failed to get a copy of their latest financial statements.
Pauline Macaraeg is Enytrepreneur PH's data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg. With additional research by Clyde Gaviola