It was 1994 when Internet came into Cagayan de Oro City. We have to dial-up to Xavier University.

That time, we were starting to build simple websites using notepad, and our favorite browser was Netscape 1.0.

In 1996, I joined a Telecoms company and there, with unlimited internet, i started to improve my website development skills. I built a fledgling intranet that got the attention of the President. Needless to say, in 2000, i was promoted to lead a ‘start-up’ group to build the company’s capability in developing commercial websites along the B2B and e-commerce concept.

Thus start the development of various of website projects (dating website, online HR portal, Online procurement system), and my baby: Pinoylaw.com.

I think it was the first domain name we registered under the company’s Internet Value-Added Services (IVAS) business, and the first domain to be hosted in our fledgling web server, other than our own corporate domain.

Birth Pains

The concept for Pinoylaw.com is to develop it into an online portal for Filipinos to access confidential/membership-only/minimal-fee legal advice. The problem is, the company does not want to pay royalty to lawyers who will serve as legal advisor, and there is the issue of how to accept payments online (No paypal then).

This ambivalence from the company stymied the progress of Pinoylaw.com

A month after and still no support, i decided to adopt Pinoylaw.com and turn it into a ‘legal information’ website, linking other sites with Philippine law-related articles, and some worldwide law-related information/trivia. Too busy with other projects and Law school, i just made Pinoylaw.com a ‘repository’ of links to all legal sites i can find in the internet.

I created the first logo in a hurry using a Microsoft clipart. (Unfortunately, i do not have with me the original logo.)

Then i started a web campaign for cross-linking with other websites, especially Philippine schools. I think Silliman University was the first to accept the link using the original logo. I also registered Pinoylaw.com in various search engines, but i put my campaign efforts with Yahoo and Google.

However, in 2002, the company underwent another change in management that put a stop to our web projects. By then, Pinoylaw.com is due to expire from the company’s charge, so i used my own credit card to renew the domain and acquire ownership.

I still did not pursue commercialization of the website since i haven’t made up my mind whether I will join the web-biz bandwagon or remain a hobbyist. I choose the latter. And so Pinoylaw.com remained ads-free and I have to renew it yearly.

I badly wanted a new logo but my in-house graphics designer couldn’t give me a desirable logo. Finally, by stroke of luck, i met a professional computer-based graphics artist named Melvin (he is now in Oman). He wanted to get an internet connection and would like us to host his propose website. I told Melvin about ‘my’ own website and the need for professional logo. He said he will make one for me. And sure he did.

I made a redesign of the front page of Pinoylaw.com to introduce the new logo. And finally, the new Pinoylaw.com:

Pinoylaw.com – “Your Window to Philippine Legal Information and Solutions

Description: “A Philippine-based website offering free legal advice online and vast links to Philippine law information.”

Pro-bono lawyers

Then i met Atty. Francis Ku, a young lawyer in CDO who also served us the company’s retainer legal consultant. I told Atty. Ku about my desire to provide ‘free’ legal assistance online using Pinoylaw.com. Atty. Ku agreed to do pro-bono legal advice for Pinoylaw.com.

I am not sure if we are the first website to offer such free legal advice online. But we surely are the first to give a confidential legal advice.

After Atty Ku, other lawyers actually applied to provide pro-bono services. One lawyer was from a prominent Makati-based law firm who once served as Mercantile Law examiner in 2004 (I think) Bar exam. There was also a lady corporate lawyer from a big bank base in its Makati main mffice. Another volunteer lawyer came from Quezon Province. Our company’s junior lawyer in Makati also briefly served Pinoylaw.com.

But it was Atty. Ku who stuck it out with Pinoylaw.com till I lost the website. The success of the free legal advice in the website could have not been possible if not for the pro-bono services of Atty. Ku. My million thanks to him.

I sent a letter to the webmaster of the Supreme Court website recommending a letter of commendation for Atty Ku. But I guess it was lost in the jumble of emails there.

Free legal advice

The free legal advice portion of the website was its biggest draw. We averaged 9 posts a day, but our highest was 15 posts in a day. 60% of the queries/requests for legal advice fell under Marriage and Family relations (separation, annulment, inheritance, paternity).

It was quite astonishing how many Filipino couples wanted to end their marriage for a variety of reasons. I think the underlying message of these distressed couples is that it is better to annul the marriage and separate rather than hurt each other and the children by continuing to live together.

Plenty of queries also for criminal cases (inc. BP 22, credit card, estafa), Civil cases (damages, contracts), Real Estate (esp. partition, lease, sale, rent law), labor & employment, and commercial law issues.

Majority of those who registered in Pinoylaw.com came from Metro Manila. But there is also large number of inquiries from overseas Filipinos, especially on marital, property, and finance-related cases.

Message Board

Since my development team has been disbanded the following year, I was force to create a Pinoylaw.com discussion board from a free provider in the internet. This message board remained active till these days, although a hacking attack on the provider’s server cause much of pinoylaw.com’s discussions to disappear (wiped-out) including the banner logo. http://p082.ezboard.com/bpinoylaw74510

Unfortunately, I forgot the admin log-in and access and now the message board is being spammed mercilessly.

Recognition

There was one time Pinoylaw.com was nominated for Philippine Webby Awards.

Also, Pinoylaw.com was featured in Philippine Star Online.

Notable Links from the Supreme Court website (prior to recent design) and Silliman University.

I also got email from Filipinos, home and abroad, thanking the website for the free legal advice service.

In Memoriam

In May 2006, in my quest to become an overseas worker, I totally forgot to renew Pinoylaw.com, and promptly, an American domain hijacker took over and registered the domain name in his name.

I had the chance last March 24, 2008, but the guy beat me to it to register the site:

WHOIS result:

Domain servers in listed order:

NS1.REVENUEDIRECT.COM
NS2.REVENUEDIRECT.COM

Record created on: 2000-03-24 01:45:58.0
Database last updated on: 2008-03-14 21:01:30.927
Domain Expires on: 2009-03-24 01:45:58.0

Registry Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registry Status: clientUpdateProhibited

I guess I will never regain the domain name back. I am thinking of creating a new domain to serve same purpose.

Even though Pinoylaw.com never attained commercial success, but the fact that it was able to provide adequate legal advices to Filipinos, home and abroad, was already a success story for me.

REFERENCES:

 If you search for ‘pinoylaw.com’ in Google, it will give you the following selected links: 

http://p082.ezboard.com/bpinoylaw74510 

http://www.paralegalgateway.com/lawyerjokes.html

http://www.alllaw.com/international/http://www.pinoysites.org/phil529.htm

http://www.filipinolinks.com/Society/Legal_Resources/more3.html

http://www.washlaw.edu/forint/asia/philippine.html

http://www.gov.ph/forum/thread.asp?rootID=57849&catID=9http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/libraries/law/lig_primary.html

http://www.philippines.com.au/cgi-bin/global/tseekdir.cgi?location=Root-Government_and_Politics-Philippine_Laws&st=15&nd=20 

http://www.gov.ph/forum/thread.asp?rootID=8078&catID=9http://www.alleba.com/Government/Law/ 

http://www.hanappinoy.com/philippines/pinoy/9.html

http://www.yehey.com/search/categories.aspx?c=811

http://find.yuku.com/find/communities?q=+legal

http://www.pinoysites.org/phil40.htm

http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/forum/archive.php?Saang+forum+ka+pa+member%3F/3642 

http://find.yuku.com/find/communities?q=+legal    

2007 Bar Exams News and Bar Exams-related stories: 

http://www.supremecourt.gov.ph/news/courtnews%20flash/2008/03/03290801.php

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080330-127231/I-just-wanted-to-pass-says-bar-topnotcher

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080329-127171/Regalados-967-remains-unsurpassed-in-RP-bar-exams-history 

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080329-127168/First-bar-exam-in-RP-held-in-1901-with-13-test-takers

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