SyCipLaw, which marks its 75th year this 2020, kicked off its jubilee celebration with “Pasasalamat”, an all-hands gathering at the SyCiplaw Center. Its highlights were a jubilee message from Hector de Leon, Jr., the firm’s managing partner, a thanksgiving Mass and interfaith prayers, and a special talk from retired Supreme Court Justice and SyCiplaw alumnus Vicente V. Mendoza.
Justice Mendoza who was with the firm for a period in 1966 remarked on the firm’s journey. “How the office has grown to be the largest, or one of the largest, law firms in the country today!” he noted. “In 1966, there were only five partners, a legal staff of about 17 members, and an administrative staff headed by the fine lady Lily Yang. I understand that now SyCiplaw is composed of 138 lawyers, 42 as partners, and a 214-member non-legal staff. Not only in number has the office grown but in stature and prestige, as well, although even when I was here the office was already composed of some of the best legal minds in the country. Its alumni are among the Who’s Who of the legal profession.”
The talk was entitled “Some Reflections on the Public Service Aspect of Private Law Practice”. Justice Mendoza’s comments on public service was indeed what resonated with the lawyers and staff who filled the SyCiplaw Center penthouse, and watched via live feed from the firm’s Cebu, Davao and Subic branches.
Justice Mendoza, who also was one of the most highly regarded professors of the UP College of Law, observed that “[t]o reach 75 in the highly competitive world of legal practice is alone an achievement worth celebrating. But it cannot escape notice either that SyCipLaw has made valuable contributions to public service in its practice of law.” He noted that firms like Syciplaw can and do render public service through the training of lawyers, in rendering legal advice and assistance and thus becoming “responsible for private orderings which form part of the larger public order without which civilized living is not possible,” and enabling courts to “approximate justice in its true light.”
In concluding his talk, Justice Mendoza remarked, “I have said that to reach 75 in the competitive world of law practice is alone an achievement worthy of a celebration. Let me add that to be 75 and still going strong is proof indisputable of the faithful stewardship of those behind one’s success. The values of excellence, integrity and solidarity must have been deeply ingrained in them. They, too, must be celebrated.”