Cross-examining a Harvard lawyer and an NYU lawyer


I lost the fight with the two foreign lawyers, who were alumns of Harvard Law and NYU Law and who were well-trained with their caliber and pedigree clearly manifesting during their cross-examination with me asking the questions. They were great at parrying my cross-exam questions, with emphasis on the Harvard lawyer who was very suave and cool in giving well-crafted responses.

That may have been the case, yet in all humility, we won the case against them resulting in their local company in the Philippines liable for at least Php20 Million.

The case is said to be the first of its kind in this jurisdiction as none has successfully won against a Company in the industry where they belonged. Much more for this Company which was a recognized industry leader. It was seen as impossible, until someone did it, like David throwing down Goliath.

What I liked about the two foreigners were that they were a good sport.

The Harvard lawyer was in his 50s, while the NYU lawyer was in his 60s (I think).

After the hearing concluded, and notwithstanding the opinion of each side as to their probability of winning, they were gentlemanly and wished our side well. We even shook hands on it.

While I cannot give any details to the case and the proceeding as it was in the form of an arbitration proceeding where confidentiality is held sacred, I was pleased to have had the opportunity to handle the merits hearing where I presented our side’s witnesses and defended them against the cross-examination of the other side’s lawyers, who were amazing and who had twice the experience in contrast to me (I was constantly admiring the main opposing lawyer who was a veteran and well-known litigator and a law professor of a reputable law school, at the same time mindful that I had to defend and prosecute the cause of my clients).

When the other side presented their witnesses, I cross-examined them, including the two foreign lawyers.

The arbitration proceedings were light and friendly, as opposed to a hostile take-no-prisoner atmosphere in a court room litigation.

The three (3) arbitrators, who were distinguished lawyers in the profession, were very professional in managing the proceedings.

It was, as strange as it may sound, a friendly litigation with everyone maintaining professionalism.

Yes, there were heated discussions now-and-then whenever key objections were raised by either side, witnesses being unresponsive, and handling lawyers going head-to-head on key important points. (I remember saying to the main opposing lawyer who was interruping me while I was speaking: “I am not yet finished!” He apologized and allowed me to complete what I was saying, which I appreciated prompting me to genuinely say thank you.)

Over all, an air of cordiality was maintained and regained whenever discussions became heated.

From a career growth and development perspective, I am very thankful to the opposing lawyer for having taught me key valuable lessons when it came to litigation. He was a mentor during the merits hearing (I say this even if I was on the opposite side, that is the level of admiration I had for him). I am also grateful to the Harvard lawyer and NYU lawyer who were twice my age (I was only 31 years of age at that time) for them extending a level of respect to their (very) junior colleague in an extended and global context of the legal profession.

As I write this article, I am no longer handling the case, which is already set for confirmation and enforcement for the arbitral award of at least P20 Million.

I am thankful to my Supervising Partner and the clients who gave me a high degree of trust in allowing me to take the reins for the merits hearing despite my having barely two weeks to study a very complicated industry with its own jargon and nuances.

With the win for us, and in all humility, I’d like to believe that we did well.