Shining in a male-dominated profession, Regina is co-founder and managing director of renowned Manila law firm PJS Law. When she started 18 years she would purposely sign as “Reggie” and not as “Regina” to avoid potential biases. Now, she has a built a well-respected 100-staff company, which boosts an equal number of female and male partners – a rarity in the field. 

“Do not consider being a woman as a weakness. Build it as your strength”

“I was working at another law firm when I met my two name partners and we decided to set up our own practice. I borrowed from my parents to be able to do that and later paid them back with great pride and joy. We grew to 14 partners from the initial 3, and while many law firms tend to consist primarily of male partners, here we actually have 7 female partners. I was not conscious about this but it took a client for me to realize it. In addition to legal services, there is the comfort of the human aspect, that extra care that only women do.”

“What has been the most challenging thing of setting up your own practice?” “At the beginning, it was very difficult to get ourselves known. We needed to prove our ability to deliver. 18 years ago it was primarily a male-driven industry so I would purposely sign as “Reggie” and not as “Regina” because I wanted people to start off a conversation on email and seek my advice. I felt there was a need for it and it did make a difference. And then whenever they found out, there was a very surprised, ‘Oh, you are a woman!’.” “And what do you say to that?” “Humor is always the best answer.”

“There was a stage in my life where my gut was telling me that I was doing the right thing but I was doubting myself if it was indeed the right decision and was trying to find consensus and guidance somewhere else. What I have learned is that as you are making your own decisions, if you are able to listen and build on your idea, then this can go from good to brilliant. And when you make a decision, stand by that. If you dilly-dally or doubt your own decisions, people will feel it. Earlier on I was not aware that I was doubting myself. It was a professional coach that told me that. Never be afraid to seek help.”

“How did you manage to grow so much?” “At the beginning it was a complete failure because I had always thought that to get things done I needed to do things myself. It worked when we were just 5, 10, 15, but when we started growing it was not possible anymore. And the first thing is that you have to admit that you need help. And you need to trust the people that are willing to help you. It’s very, very hard, but it brings different perspectives.”

“A word of advice to other women seeking to become founders?” “Starting your own business is a great opportunity. Young women professionals venturing into their own field of business need to know that it is not going to be easy. Some people make it look so easy. Roll up your sleeves, accept that it is going to be hard, but always remember why you are doing it in the first place. Every day confirm that you are doing the right thing, stay the course, calibrate – your solution for today might not be the best solution for tomorrow. Know the strengths of the people you bring in, do not focus on their weaknesses, and then you will see that it is not only you carrying your business but it is every individual that you have invited to join. And they likewise will believe in your business and make your business a success, the way you define success.”

“Female founders must never forget their strength as women. There are lots of women that go out of their way to prove that they are strong and mimic the traits of men. Do not consider being a woman as a weakness, build it as your strength. Then your advice, your designs, your creations, your work will become a product which is truer to your clients and customers then when you package it from a messenger’s perspective that it’s not true to whom you are.”

Company: PJS Law
Location: Manila
Founded: 1997
No of Employees: 95