December 9, 2020

DivinaLaw Senior Partner Atty. Estrella C. Elamparo was recently featured as one of the panel speakers in the first day of “Law School Forum 2020 – It’s a Law Story” organized by the Ateneo Lex and held online from December 4 to December 5, 2020.

Atty. Elamparo was joined in the panel by Judge Princess Bustos-Ongkeko, Atty. Teroy Roman, Atty. Mario Luza Bautista, Atty. Adel Tamano, and Ms. Samira Gutoc. The group tackled the hosts’ questions on how they ended up in law school and their chosen branch of law practice, discussed memorable experiences during law school, weighed in on how well law schools are preparing students for actual practice, and if the current legal market is oversaturated. Students also had a chance to get a more in-depth knowledge of the guest speakers during the breakout sessions.

Atty. Elamparo who always wanted to be a litigation lawyer as a kid, shared how she looked for the best litigation lawyer that she could learn from.

As a student assisting in cases as part of the legal clinic of her university, she asked judges and those working in the courts who they thought was a remarkable litigation lawyer.

“Everywhere I go, I would get almost the same answer. Atty. Mario Ongkiko. Even now, I consider him as one of the best litigators we ever produced.”

Before passing the bar, she joined Ongkiko’s law firm and was assigned to her first case, a case so high-profile and controversial, it was called “the trial of the century.”

“The challenge then was the trial by publicity. We were defense counsel for Hubert Webb and another accused. The public sentiment then was sobrang (so) anti-accused. May nambabato sa amin (some would throw things at us) when we would go to court. We were doing daily trials and I was assisting my boss then, Atty. Ongkiko. As an assisting lawyer, I did all the prep work for him. It was a very trying experience but I learned a lot.”

It was there on her first case, Atty. Elamparo said that she was exposed to all kinds of direct examinations, cross-examinations, objections, and arguments.

Atty. Elamparo later joined public service, working as a state prosecutor and eventually becoming senior vice president and chief of the legal department for the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

When asked if there was any sexism in the field of law, Atty. Elamparo had this to say: “There is sexism everywhere, not just in the field of law. What’s good about the field of law is, right now in law schools, there are more women than men.”

Atty. Elamparo also pointed out that there are increasingly more women judges and more female senior partners. But still, there are instances when one may encounter condescending judges or opposing counsels.

“As a woman, you learn not just to cope with it but to use things to your advantage. When you’re underestimated, then they don’t know what’s coming because you will eventually prove that “I am made of stern stuff and I can fight it out as well or even better than you guys can.”

Facing countless challenges, disbarment cases, threats, and even just the naturally laborious work of litigation can be very exhausting for anyone. But for Atty. Elamparo, litigation remains to be her passion.

“It can be depleting but what will sustain you will be your passion for what you’re doing. To this very day, I am excited every time I wake up to do what I do.”

To those considering law school, Atty. Elamparo had this to say: “Do a lot of soul searching and if after contemplating it, you are still convinced that you have what it takes and that this is your passion, then go for it… (Law) is a beautiful profession. There’s a lot of opportunity to bring justice to the world. The study of law, although difficult is something very intellectually stimulating. It’s not going to be boring at all.”

Atty. Elamparo is the co-head of DivinaLaw’s Dispute Resolution Group, and pioneer of the Firm’s Crisis Management and Communication Group. She was recognized as the Woman Lawyer of the Year at the 2017 Southeast Asia Law Awards of the Asian Legal Business and more recently, was named among the Top 100 Lawyers of the Philippines in 2020 by Asia Business Law Journal.