Time was when the law profession signified a world of men, articulate and argumentative, who had the knowledge of law at their fingertips. Very few women then dared to venture into this world since it was deemed a masculine domain. Times have changed; women have come into their own and lady lawyers are very much in the scene.
Atty. Melanie Zosa Tan, the managing partner of the Zosa and Quijano Law Offices, is a trial lawyer. It was her childhood ambition to follow in her late father’s footsteps, Atty. Francis Zosa. Added to this was another reason and she disclosed: “I saw the profession as an opportunity to help others. I also wanted a profession that’s challenging and interesting.”
When asked if being a lawyer is what she imagined it to be, she answered in the affirmative because she had been exposed to the work of her lawyer-father since childhood and knew what lawyering entails. On the challenges she has encountered in her law practice, she admitted that a major challenge has always been handling cases where the liberty of her clients who were wrongfully accused, were at stake.
Atty. Lani believes that being a lady lawyer has its plus points: “The advantage of a lady lawyer over male lawyers is that she is more empathetic which makes clients trust her and be comfortable interacting with her. This translates to passionately advocating for them.”
A Certified Public Accountant/Lawyer, that’s Atty. Maricris E. Bathan-Lasco, a partner at Bathan & Associates Law Firm and a professor at the University of San Carlos College of Law. She is the daughter of litigator/educator, Atty. Alicia Bathan who she finds a hard act to follow but everyone can see that she is definitely treading the same path with an added CPA to her name.
The lady lawyer shared: “The legal profession has taught me grit. I imagined it to be stressful and it has lived up to that expectation. It is very stressful. However, despite the stress, you get to help people and I think that should be reward enough for all the stress that lawyers experience every day.”
As to comparisons between men and women lawyers, Atty. Maricris has this to say: “I think that gender does not play much role in the legal profession. So long as you believe in the cause of your client and you do all legal means possible to advance such cause and you pour your heart and effort into it, then you will feel fulfilled, regardless of whether you win or lose that case. Whether you are a man or a woman, it does not really matter, so long as you love what you do.”
When asked how she decides what clients/cases to accept, she emphasized, “I do not accept an engagement based on who the client is. It is more on what the case is about. If it is within my field of expertise, then I will accept the case. If it is not, I refer them to lawyer friends who I know will be able to give them the service that they need.”
Atty. Thelma Limpag-Jordan of the Jordan Law Office “stumbled” into the law profession when she was convinced by a friend to enroll with her in law school. She is grateful for that and has no regrets because she has realized that “knowledge of the law is a handy tool in daily life” especially now that she is the Vice Mayor of Liloan.
The lady lawyer/politician gives credit to her mentors, Atty. Jesus B. Garcia Jr. and Atty. Julius Z. Neri for her training in the practice of corporate law as well as in civil and labor laws. Asked about the challenges in her profession, she admitted that it is always a dilemma when family members or close friends come to her for help against another family member or a mutual friend. As a lawyer she has to uphold the law and do what is fair and just, but at the same time, as a relative or friend to the warring parties, she has to mediate so as to find a win-win solution and arrive at an amicable settlement.
Atty. Thelma declares: “Being a lady lawyer is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Most victims in domestic violence cases come to a lady lawyer, as they find us sympathetic and patient to hear their litany of woes.” However, she can’t forget an incident when she felt she was at a disadvantage. It was when a foreigner client objected to her appearance in court for him saying she will just be bullied and won’t be able to argue because she was petite and a lady. The law firm’s boss then reminded him that size and gender are not the measures of competence but the knowledge of the law. Anyway, just to appease him, the office assigned a male associate to take her place.
While in the practice of law, Atty. Thelma Jordan was pulled into politics. She has served the municipality of Liloan, Cebu, as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan and is currently the Vice Mayor.