This site is edited by Atty. Lyman A. Manzanares, member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Philippine Bar Association and founding partner of the corporate and litigation firm Manzanares Partners based in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines. A member of the University of the Philippines College of Law Class of 2004, he was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2005.
This is dedicated to Starters and men in the arena. As Theodore Roosevelt would say in ‘Citizenship in a Republic’ at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910—
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
After writing finis to law school in 2004, I was free to do whatever I wanted—except I wasn’t. I saw then a herd of legal automatons ready to go somewhere, anywhere. And I was right smack in the middle of it. I wasn’t sure of the best move. My hunch was, doing what everyone else was doing probably wasn’t it.
Some 10 years before that, I entered university as an electrical engineering freshman. But by my second year, I was doing more pull-ups at the cadet officers corps than on my calculus.
Junior year, I was leaving the corps and a semester after, swapping engineering for arts and sciences, not without trepidation.
Academic life was full of changes, the only constant being my confusion. I was learning to write my first lines of code, my first ever program, while just months before, I was clueless where to insert that floppy disk.
I was, so to speak, finding my “Nine Muses”. Reading Hamlet and acting out Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Meeting the “Pilgrims” and Benjamin Franklin, statesman, scientist, publisher, one of the best polymaths ever.
After law school, I wanted to work for the Securities and Exchange Commission, owing to my previous work with an investment house group prior to law school. SEC would inform me I still needed civil service eligibility.
Luckily, a few days later I would score a quick interview with the Insurance Commissioner and be told to start work the day after. So I did.
So began my public affairs stint. I served a succession of Insurance Commissioners. After three years, I would move to the Department of Finance as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Finance, Republic of the Philippines.
After six years in government, I started my private law practice in 2010, formally cofounding our general professional partnership a year after.
I could remember that after passing the Bar in 2005, it seemed that there were only two options. To be an insect, i.e. “specialization is for insects” (Robert Heinlein). Or to be not an insect, i.e. “Jack of all trades, master of none”, which was a scarecrow in favor of “Do one thing and do it well” (UNIX philosophy).
What are you? Which are you? You don’t have to be a lawyer to come face to face with this dilemma.
In my opinion, the answer to the question implicit in thse two options (to be or not to be . . . well, an insect) is as easy as it is hard to come by if we limit our view to what we’re supposed to do on the basis of what we did in school.
We can instead look at the world and see for ourselves what matters, how something that matters is made, and why they matter.
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
As for myself, law and other things offer a steady dose of inspiration and motivation for those ready to be spurred.
Since 2010, aside from cofounding our law partnership, I cofounded a technology startup, a social enterprise, two non-profits, and acted as entrepreneur-in-residence to a foundation.
Law cannot be practiced in a vacuum. Law is rooted in life and the way we view society and our role in it.
Hence, for instance, an important part of my law practice today is dedicated to helping co-operatives cooperate. Cooperatives make the kind of impact I want to see most in the world.
My personal call to action:
To make and create, as opposed to just consume. To find opportunities to solve real problems, and not to waste them, nor to waste time. To start things, without regard to resources presently at hand.