Early Beginnings

The firm has a diversified general law practice and corresponds with leading law firms in major cities of the world. It handles all aspects of corporate, commercial and international business transactions, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, technology transfers, civil and criminal litigation, admiralty, labor-management relations, taxation, aviation law, estates and trusts, media law, immigration and family law.

The firm’s partners are supported by associates and assistants, technical consultants and administrative and secretarial staff.Each case or assignment is handled by a team supervised by a partner. If required by the nature, magnitude and complexity of the work, more than one partner or team may be involved. Every client has access to a partner for advice on urgent matters.

Oscar Sutro of San Francisco, then almost 27, went to Manila in the spring of 1901 and opened a law office under the firm name of Pillsbury & Sutro. He was backed by Mr. E. s. Pillsbury of the San Francisco firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in which Alfred Sutro, Oscar’s older brother, was a partner.

The office of Pillsbury & Sutro in 1901 was two or three small rooms on the second floor of the building on the north side of Plaza Moraga; the narrow and dangerously steep stairway was in the angle where this building met the first building fronting on the Escolta. Sutro’s office staff was two or three personeros; stenographic and typing service was obtainable only from government clerks willing to work evenings and holidays.

William Hamilton Lawrence, 26, with the ink hardly dry on his law diploma, landed in Manila at the end of July, 1901, met Oscar Sutro within a few days. Two or three months later, at Sutro’s suggestion, Lawrence took a room adjoining the Pillsbury & Sutro office, did some typing for Sutro and, as Sutro’s business grew, was employed as associate counsel in some cases. In 1902 Sutro needed an associate, and near the end of the year Lawrence joined him as partner, the firm name becoming Pillsbury, Sutro & Lawrence.

Among the lawyers who worked in the firm are: Diosdado Macapagal, President of the Philippines (1961-1965), Ricardo Paras, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1951-1961), and Amelito Mutuc, Ambassador to the United States (1962-1964), Delfin Gonzales, Judge Simeon Ferrer, Judge Cesar Augustus Sangco, Glicerio Opinion, Gil Carlos, Guillermo Reyes, Martin Laurea, Jesus Sayoc, Justice Luis Javellana, Rafael D. Salcedo, Jesus B. Bito, Jr., Joaquin L. Misa, Mariano M. Lozada and Tomas O. del Castillo, Jr.

Because of a previous requirement that the name of a partner who ceases to be with a firm should be dropped from the firm name, its firm name has undergone many changes. ROSS, SELPH & CARRASCOSO, BITO, MISA & LOZADA and BITO, LOZADA, ORTEGA & CASTILLO were the firm names for many years. All partners were Americans until 1936 when the first Filipino partner (Antonio T. Carrascoso, Jr.) was admitted.

From the building in Plaza Moraga, the Law Firm transferred offices to the 7th Floor of the Citibank Bldg., Juan Luna Street, Binondo, Manila where it stayed for many years.

From there, the Law Firm moved to the 9th Floor of the Ramon Magsaysay Center along Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila until 1980.

In 1980, the Law Firm bought the 5th & 6th Floors of the ALPAP I Bldg. located at 140 L. P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City where it presently holds its practice.