Quisumbing Torres (QT), member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, participated in two sessions during the In-House Congress Manila held last 12 July: Disruptive Technology: How Technology is Transforming the Business Sector and Equality and Women in Law: Women in In-House. The Congress is part of the In-House Community Congress series, hosted by Pacific Business Press. Over 150 legal counsels and key representatives from domestic and multinational firms attended the event.

Equality and Women in Law: Women in In-House

The congress kicked-off with a panel discussion moderated by In-House Community's Managing Director Tim Gilkison.  The 2-part session featured topics on The In-House Development Model and Equality and Women in Law: Women in In-House.  QT's Corporate & Commercial Partner Christina Macasaet-Acaban participated in the panel discussion for the latter topic.

Christina shared insights on the importance of mentorship and having the support of the organization in achieving meaningful careers for women in the legal profession. At the same time, she highlighted that women must also have the proper mindset to accept challenges and opportunities, while at the same time being true to oneself. She recognizes the value of networking and forging a good professional relationship with all stakeholders, regardless of gender, in the organization. 

As regards the matter of retaining and progressing younger female talent, which is recognized as a challenge in most firms, Christina mused "I believe that it is important for the associates to believe that, with hard work and focus, it is possible to succeed both professionally in the firm, and in one's roles outside the office," she explained. 

Christina was recently promoted to Principal, which is equivalent to a senior partner of the firm, and is the third woman to be promoted to Principal in the history of the firm.  Currently, she heads the Healthcare Industry Group, and the Competition Focus Group. She is a member of Baker & McKenzie International’s Asia Pacific Healthcare Steering Committee, and the Asia Pacific Competition Steering Committee.

Disruptive Technology: How Technology is Transforming the Business Sector

QT conducted an exclusive panel discussion on Disruptive Technology: How Technology is Transforming the Business Sector, with Corporate & Commercial Partner Dennis Quintero who led the first half of the panel session, spotlight on Blockchain. During the second half, Employment Partner Eliseo Zuñiga, Jr. ran the discussion on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Joining the conversation were senior associates Reena Mitra-Ventanilla and Jay Patrick Santiago from the firm's Intellectual Property and Dispute Resolution Practice Groups, respectively.

"Lawyers must become aware of the commercial applications and consequences of blockchain applications and the emerging global standards surrounding blockchain technology," said Dennis during his introduction to blockchain.  Dennis noted that lawyers have a big role in blockchain/smart contracts technology as lawyers need to work with developers to ensure that the code reflects the agreed terms in the contract that underlie the blockchain.

The session went on to discuss the legal issues surrounding the development and application of blockchain, including data privacy, intellectual property, governing law, dispute resolution and employment law. In dispute resolution, Jay cited how blockchain affects arbitration. "In the drafting of arbitration agreements, for example, the agreement could be in the form of a smart contract - not strictly written but a code," Jay shared. "The tribunal must have knowledge about coding and understanding of smart contracts. Enforcement of awards could mean automatic enforcement, without need for petitioning for recognition and enforcement in courts," he further explained.

On AI, Eliseo began the conversation asking the audience, "Will AI eventually replace humans?".  He continued, " AI will give rise to automation. While automation eliminates old jobs, it may also create new jobs.  While past technology has tended to increase rather than reduce total employment, we are in uncharted territory with AI."

While some believe that AI's may replace lawyers and other legal professionals, Eliseo believes that Al will likely just result in a redeployment of legal resources and free up time for lawyers to perform more critical work for their clients. In the intellectual property practice, for example, Reena states, "IP administrative tasks are time-intensive, and historically, IP management has been a significantly tedious, manual, slow, and costly process.  AI, which is highly adept at processing large sets of data , can improve efficiency and accuracy.  This would also enable lawyers and IP professionals to take on a more strategic role within the company, generating insights from data, and helping shape future company decisions and performance, while leaving the more mundane aspects of IP management to AI."   

Eliseo explained that while AI may offer tools to provide quick and efficient service to clients, AI is still not a substitute for a lawyer’s own judgment and personal relationship with clients. He concluded with a reminder to all by saying, "We should all pay close attention, make the government aware and prepare for possible adverse effects of automation on our labor force."

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