A. LEGAL ETHICS1. Practice of Lawa. ConceptAny activity in or out of court which requires the application of law, legal principle, practice or procedure and calls for legal knowledge, training and experience.[footnoteRef:1] [1: Cayetano vs Monsod, 201 SCRA 210]
Strictly speaking, the word practice of law implies the customary or habitual holding of oneself to the public as a lawyer and demanding compensation for his services.[footnoteRef:2] [2: People vs. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 111]
(1) PrivilegeThe practice of law is a privilege granted only to those who possess the strict intellectual and moral qualifications required of lawyers who are instruments in the effective and efficient administration of justice.[footnoteRef:3] [3: In Re: Argosino (1997)]
The practice of law is not a natural, property or constitutional right but a mere privilege. It is not a right granted to anyone who demands it but a privilege to be extended or withheld in the exercise of sound judicial discretion. It is in the nature of a franchise conferred only for merit which must be earned by hard study, learning and good conduct. It is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. Those standards are neither dispensed with nor lowered after admission. The attorneys continued enjoyment of the privilege conferred depends upon his complying with the ethics and rules of the profession. (2) Profession, Not BusinessPrimary characteristics which distinguish the legal profession from business:
a. Duty of service, of which the emolument is a byproduct, and in which one may attain the highest eminence without making such money;
b. A relation as an officer of court to the administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability;
c. A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary;
d. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and encroachment on their practice or dealing with their clients.
1. He must have been admitted to the Bar
i. Furnishing satisfactory proof of educational, moral and other qualification;
ii. Passing the bar
iii. Taking the Lawyers Oath before the SC
iv. Signing the Attorneys Roll and receiving from the Clerk of Court of the SC a Certificate of the license to practice
2. After his admission to the bar, a lawyer must remain in good and regular standing, which is a continuing requirement for the practice of law. He must:
i.. Remain a member of the IBP
ii. Regularly pay all IBP membership dues and other lawful assessments, as well as the annual privilege tax;
iii. Faithfully observe the rules and ethics of the legal profession; and
iv. Be continually subject to judicial disciplinary control.c. Appearance of Non-Lawyers(1) Law Student PracticeThe rule provides that a law student who has successfully completed his 3rd year of the regular four year law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law schools clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.[footnoteRef:4] [4: Rule 138 A, Sec. 1]
He shall be under the direct supervision and control of a lawyer accredited by the law school and who shall sign on behalf of the legal clinic all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed.
He shall be governed by the rules on privileged communication and shall comply with the standards of professional conduct governing lawyers. The supervising lawyer may be disciplined for his failure to provide adequate supervision. (2) Non-Lawyers in Courtsa. Before the MTC - a party may conduct his case or litigation in person with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him.
b. Before any court a party may conduct his litigation personally. But he gets someone to aid him and that someone must be an authorized member of the Bar. He is bound by the same rules in conducting the trial of his case. He cannot, after judgment, claim that he was not properly represented.
c. In a criminal case before the MTC in a locality where a duly licensed member of the Bar is not available, the judge may appoint a non-lawyer who is a resident of that province, of good repute for probity and ability to the accused in his defense.
d. A non-lawyer may represent a claimant before the Cadastral Court.
e. Any person appointed to appear for the government of the Philippines in accordance with law. (3) Non-Lawyers in Administrative TribunalsUnder the Labor Code non-lawyers may appear before the NLRC or any Labor Arbiter if they (a) represent themselves; (b) represent their organization or members thereof.(4) Proceedings Where Lawyers Prohibited from Appearinga. Members of legislature:
A lawyer-member of the legislature is only prohibited from appearing as counsel before any court of justice, electoral tribunals or quasi-judicial and administrative bodies. The word appearance includes not only arguing a case before any such body but also filing a pleading on behalf of a client as by simply filing a formal motion, plea or answer.[footnoteRef:5] [5: Ramos vs. Manalac, 89 Phil 270]
Neither can he allow his name to appear in such pleading by itself or as part of a firm name under the signature of another qualified lawyer because the signature of an agent amounts to signing of a non-qualified senator or congressman, the office of an attorney being originally of agency, and because he will, by such act, be appearing in court or quasi-judicial or administrative body in violation of the constitutional restriction. He cannot do indirectly what the Constitution prohibits directly.[footnoteRef:6] [6: In re: David 93 Phil. 461]
b. Members of the sanggunian:
They shall not:
1. Appear as counsel before any court in any civil case wherein a local government unit or any office, agency or instrumentality of the government is the adverse party;
2. Appear as counsel in any criminal case wherein an officer or employee of the national or local government is accused of an offense committed in relation to his office;
3. Collect any fee for their appearance in administrative proceedings involving the local government unit of which he is an official.[footnoteRef:7] [7: Sec. 90, R.A. 7160]
4. Use property and personnel of the government except when the Sanggunian member concerned is defending the interest of the government
c. Retired justice/judge:
As a condition of the pension provided under R.A. 910, no retired justice or judge of a court of record or city or municipality judge during the time that he is receiving said pension shall:
1. Appear as counsel before any court in:
1. Any civil case wherein the government or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof is the adverse party;1. Any criminal case wherein an officer or an employee of the government is accused of an offense committed in relation to his office.
2. Collect any fees for his appearance in any administrative proceedings to maintain an interest adverse to the government, provincial or municipal, or to any of its legally constituted officers.[footnoteRef:8] [8: Sec 1, R.A. 910]
d. Sanctions for Practice or Appearance Without Authority(1) Lawyers Without Authority1. Declaratory relief;2. Petition for Injunction;3. Contempt of court;4. Criminal complaint for Estafa against a person who falsely represented himself to be an attorney to the damage of a party; 5. Disqualification and complaints for disbarment; or 6. Administrative complaint against the erring lawyer or government official. (2) Persons Not LawyersThey may be punished with contempt of court, severe censure and three (3) months imprisonment because of the highly fraudulent and improper conduct tending directly to impede, obstruct, degrade, and make a mockery of the administration of justice.[footnoteRef:9] [9: Manangan v. CFI, G.R. No. 82760, August 30,1990; Lapena, 2009]
e. Public Officials And Practice of Law(1) Prohibition or Disqualification of Former Government AttorneysA lawyer shall not, after leaving the government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service.[footnoteRef:10] [10: Rule 6.03, CPR]
Section 7 (b), R.A. 6713 prohibits any former public official or employee for a period of one year after retirement or separation from office to practice his profession in connection with any other matter before the office he used to be with. (2) Public officials who cannot practice law or with restrictionsPublic Officials Who Cannot Practice Law in the Philippines:1. Judges and other officials or employees of the superior court2. Officials and employees of the Office of the Solicitor General3. Government Prosecutors4. President, Vice-President, members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants5. Chairmen and members of the Constitutional Commissions6. Ombudsman and his deputies7. Governors, city and municipal mayors8. Those who, by special law are prohibited from engaging in the practice of their legal professionPublic Officials with restrictions in the practice of law: 1. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives2. Members of the Sanggunian3. Retired Justice or Judge4. Civil Service officers or employees without permit from their respective department heads.[footnoteRef:11] [11: Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293]
f. Lawyers Authorized to Represent the GovernmentAny official