BLOCK DOWN STORIES | Atty Edsel Tupaz, Partner of Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra

Introduction about yourself and your company?

I am Atty. Edsel Tupaz, Partner at Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra.

Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra (GorricetaLaw) is a Top Tier full-service law firm in the Philippines. GorricetaLaw is internationally recognized and multi-awarded under The Legal 500, Asian Legal Business (Thomson Reuters), International Financial Law Review, AsiaLaw Profiles, among many others. It is a leading firm in the fields of Capital Markets, Mergers & Acquisitions, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Banking, and Financial Services, Construction and Real Estate, Dispute Resolution, Labor Law, Transportation Law, and Taxation.

The Firm’s clients include Fortune 500, S&P 500, and NASDAQ 100 companies, and several of the top 100 companies in the Philippines.

GorricetaLaw prides itself as being the Youngest Biggest Firm in the Philippines, boasting of more than 30 lawyers with a total complement of 60, inclusive of the Non-Legal Team. 

How are you and your business in this time of crisis?

All our lawyers and staff are implementing Work-From-Home (WFH) Arrangements pursuant to COVID-19-related regulations issued by the Philippine Government. Fortunately, there has been an actual uptick of activities in relation to our Technology Law practice, including M&A transactions in the Technology space. This has been a saving grace for us at the Firm and continues to keep us busy. We are one of the very few law firms, if not one of very few businesses at large, which are actually hiring people.  

What do you think will happen after all quarantine period will be lifted?

We think the quarantine will continue beyond our initial expectations and will not be completely lifted — for instance, we are currently subjected to a “Modified” Enhanced Community Quarantine or MECQ. If the quarantine will be completely lifted, hopefully, sooner than later, we hope to hit the ground running, revive any matter which lay dormant during the quarantine, and start stronger than ever. Because of the COVID-19 shock, our Firm implemented a number of safety measures and technology initiatives (such as new payment options, new types of collaboration technology, stronger online initiatives such as FIRESIDE Webchats and online newsletters).  We expect to continue all of these initiatives because they do bring about efficiency, whether in good times or bad.

What are the things you’re doing this lock-down period?

I do mostly supervisory activities for our legal teams on a remote basis; project management; webinars and Zoom meetings; and client conferences. I have also taken it upon myself to learn a host of new skills and competencies through online courses, such as Communication Literacy, Personal Resilience, Data Privacy, Cybersecurity, and Negotiation. I have slowly been catching up on a lot of reading material sitting around.  I have also been blessed with my wife giving birth to a bouncing baby boy, Alex, who is now 8 weeks old! Aside from enjoying more family time, I am busy planning for the interior designs of my new home office requirements and for a new apartment unit that we are purchasing and shall move into.

What are some lessons you’ve learned during this pandemic?

Building personal resilience is key, as well as methodically undertaking intentional activities that create structure around you and empower you to follow-through. Team building skills are also important because you will only be as good as the ‘last’ member in your team. It is important to keep apace and provide energy to your teammates and colleagues in support of any project objective. I’ve also learned that keeping healthy is key, in all sense of the word, and in all physical, emotional, and mental states.

What are the things you’re grateful for?

I am grateful for having a very supportive family and relatives around me.  We all seemed to have glided into our tasks and functions during the lockdown, with each relying upon the other. I am also grateful for having great medical professionals within reach and who are willing to go the extra mile in helping us meet routine medical needs.  They have been most helpful in answering our health-related questions. We even had a house call for vaccination for our infant baby boy, for my wife and myself, so that we can gain resilience against diseases and illnesses that may occur even during a pandemic like COVID-19.

Can you please share some stories of what you’re doing during ECQ?

At GorricetaLaw, we try to keep busy with activities that create stronger, better digital footprints about our services. This is especially relevant if law firms are to survive, if not prevail, during quarantines wherein traditional brick-and-mortar activities are prohibited or highly regulated. Obviously, we cannot accommodate walk-ins. Lately, we held our first FIRESIDE WebChat, hosting speakers from our Firm to discuss COVID-19-related rules and regulations within the specific context of labor law, cybersecurity, mergers and acquisitions, and contract management.  It was very successful, and it was a group effort.  We will be holding subsequent FIRESIDE WebChats every Friday. We continue to issue FIRESIDE publications about key legal topics through our email blasts sent to our clients, colleagues, and friends.

Can you give some advise to other people and business out there during this pandemic?

For business owners, fight the urge to layoff or retrench your employees during these times. Find alternative working arrangements and compensation schemes that would defer employee dismissals to be the last resort.  This is because, once we begin seeing light at the end of the tunnel, you will need to start strong with only the best of your workforce leading the way. You will need your most loyal, your smartest, and your most effective workers and partners to lead the way for a strong recovery.
For customers, now is the time for Tech-Up.  Use digital wallets to help manage your cash flow.  Connect with online or App-based suppliers and service providers so that you are able to sustain your household activities.
For tech entrepreneurs, this is your time to shine. It is a time when all members of your customer base will experience that felt need to tech up as much as they can, and it is your job to be in the right place and at the right time.

Do you agree that Blockchain can help sustain the economy?

Blockchain is an essential, must-know technology, but it must be managed alongside key emerging techs, such as AI, Machine Learning, Big Data, and Cloud services.  Given the right mix, blockchain-based initiatives will form an important pillar in digital economies here and elsewhere.  

Where can we follow you and your business?

Stay connected with us!

Firm website – https://www.gorricetalaw.com/

Firm Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/company/gorricetalaw/         

Firm Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/gorricetalaw1/

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