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Ethics and Excellence for Young Associates (Joe Concepcion, 81 Phil LJ 221 (2006))

Ethics and Excellence for Young Associates (Joe Concepcion, 81 Phil LJ 221 (2006))

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Published by: Facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan on Jan 13, 2013
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E
THICS AND
E
XCELLENCE FOR
Y
OUNG
A
SSOCIATES IN
I
NSTITUTIONAL
L
AW
F
IRMS
 Jose C. Concepcion
 
By the 2005 case of 
 Dallong-Galicina vs. Castro
,
1
I am an unethicallawyer.In that case, the Supreme Court disciplined a lawyer for hurlingIlocano invectives at a Lady Clerk of Court concerning the vagina of hermother. As some of you know, the Ilocano invective, as phrased by theSupreme Court itself, is “Okinnam”. He hurled this curse at the haplesslady thrice.The Americans also have their own version of that invective: “
Sonof a bitch”.
Those who have worked with me know that I liberally use theTagalog version: “
Putang Ina
”. My defense is that I do not utter thatinvective, or any other invective, at a lady or gentleman in a court room orin any adjudicatory proceedings.I only use the invective against stupid ideas.
 
Adapted from material originally prepared for the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & CruzLaw Office (ACCRALAW) Retainer Monitoring Department (RMD). The author acknowledges theinvaluable assistance of RMD Head Ms. Anatess Arnaldo-Oracion, RMD Monitor Ms. Brigida S.Aldeguer, Ms. Evangeline T. Bargo, Ms. Lucile G. Garcia, and Ms. Nueva G. Abanto. The author alsoacknowledges the assistance of Mr. Oscar Franklin B. Tan, who graduated from the University of thePhilippines Law School in 2006. He is presently an Associate of the ACCRALAW Office and is on leavepursuing his graduate studies at the Harvard Law School. He was Chairman of the
Philippine Law Journal
from 2005-2006. Mr. Tan is his fraternity brother and therefore someone he feels comfortable orderingaround.

Retired Founding and Name Partner of the ACCRALAW Office. He graduated from theUniversity of the Philippines Law School in 1958,
cum laude
, was Chairman of the Philippine Law Journalfrom 1957-1958 and a member thereof from 1956-1957. He obtained his LLM from the University of Pennsylvania in 1959.
1
A.C. No. 6131, 474 SCRA 1, Feb. 28, 2005.
221
 
 
P
HILIPPINE
L
AW
J
OURNAL
[V
OL
.81
222
The unsuitability of my penchant for using that invective wasbrought to my attention by Justice Efren I. Plana in an embarrassing anddramatic way.During one emotional ACCRA Partners’ Meeting, I argued mypropositions with such force and emotion that in the midst of myarguments, Justice Plana interrupted me in his gentlemanly way: “Joe, whydo you punctuate all your sentences with that word? Can you not use abetter word?”The interruption immediately brought sobriety to the discussion. Ilost the argument.Since that incident, I have been thinking of alternative appropriategraphic language to replace my favorite Tagalog invective. Perhaps, Frank Sinatra’s gentlemanly language will do: “The lady is a tramp.”So much for invectives as they relate to Legal Ethics. Despite beingmandatory in law school curricula,
2
it is the least appealing law subject. Onereason may be its paltry 5% weight in the Bar Examinations.
3
Another isthat “law students do not think that they will become unethical lawyers.”
4
Nevertheless, Rule 2, Section 2 of the Supreme Court’s Rules onMandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) devotes six out of 36MCLE hours to Legal Ethics. In comparison, nine hours are allotted for“updates on substantive and procedural laws,” which covers four majorsubjects” constitutional, civil, commercial, and remedial law. The allotmentof six hours to a single subject, to my mind, unflatteringly suggests thatlawyers’ unethical conduct must have deteriorated to an alarming level thatthe Bench and Bar can no longer ignore.The trap laid before a lawyer who gives his thoughts on LegalEthics is that he might create the impression of a “Holier Than Thou”posture. Worse, he might unethically suggest the unthinkable: “Do as I tellyou, not what I do.” At the risk of falling into this trap, my paper isconfined to Legal Ethics problems one encounters in an institutional law
2
R
ULES OF
C
OURT
, Rule 138, § 5(2).
3
§14.
4
Patrick S. Schiltz,
On Being A Happy, Healthy, And Ethical Member Of An Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession
, 52 VAND. L. REV. 871, 907 (1999).
 
2006]
E
THICS AND
E
XCELLENCE
223
firm like ACCRA. My entire career has been confined within two law firmsthen transforming into institutional law firms.
I.
 
AL
AW
F
IRM
S
R
ESPONSIBILITY TO
E
NSURE
I
TS
M
EMBERS AND
A
SSOCIATES
E
THICAL
B
EHAVIOR
Our Code of Professional Responsibility does not detail a lawfirm’s responsibility for its partners or lawyers’ unethical behavior.
5
TheAmerican Bar Association (ABA), on the other hand, recommends thefollowing Model Rule:
6
LAW FIRMS AND ASSOCIATESRule 5.1
 Responsibilities of Partners, Managers, and Supervisory Lawyers
(a)A partner in a law firm, and a lawyer who individuallyor together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerialauthority in a law firm, shall make
reasonable efforts
to ensure thatthe firm has in effect measures giving
reasonable assurance
that alllawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of ProfessionalConduct.(b)A lawyer having direct supervisory authority overanother lawyer shall make
reasonable efforts
to ensure that the otherlawyer conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct.(c)A lawyer shall be responsible for another lawyersviolation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if:(1)the lawyer orders or, with knowledge of the specificconduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or(2)the lawyer is a partner or has comparable managerialauthority in the law firm in which the other lawyer practices, or
5
The only rule I found which mentions the terms “firm”, “partners” and “associates” is Rule21.04: “A lawyer may disclose the affairs of a client of the firm to partners or associates thereof unlessprohibited by the client.”
6
Cited in
Solatan vs. Inocentes, AC No. 6504, 466 SCRA 1, 19 n.16, Aug. 9, 2005.

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