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Ulep vs. Legal Aid, Inc.

A.C. No. L-533


June 17, 1993
Cease and Desist Order
Regalado, J.
Canon 3, Code of Professional Responsibility
Rule 3.01, Code of Professional Responsibility
A lawyer, making known his legal services shall only use true, honest, fair, dignified and
objective information or statement of facts.Canon 3, Code of Professional Responsibility
A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive,
undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications for legal
services.Rule 3.01, Code of Professional Responsibility

Facts:
In 1984, Atty. Rogelio Nogales formed The Legal Clinic. Its aim, according to Nogales
was to move toward specialization and cater to clients who cannot afford the
services of big law firms. Atty. Mauricio Ulep filed a complaint against The Legal
Clinic because of the latters advertisements which invite potential clients to
inquire about secret marriages, divorce, annulment, absence, and Visa problems,
etc. The complainant also stated that the Clinic was also giving free books on
Guam Divorce which contain the following:
SECRET MARRIAGE?
P560.00 for a valid marriage.
Information on DIVORCE. ABSENCE. ANNULMENT. VISA.
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC.
Please call: 521-0767; 521-7232; 522-2041
8:30am 6:00pm
7th Floor Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Manila
GUAM DIVORCE
DON PARKINSON
An attorney in Guam is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through The Legal Clinic
beginning Monday to Friday during office hours.
Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. Quota/Nonquota Res. & Special Retirees Visa. Declaration of Absence. Remarriage to Filipina
Fiances. Adoption. Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina
Spouse/Children.
Call Marivic.
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC.
7th Floor Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Manila nr. US Embassy
Tel. 521-7232, 521-7251, 522-2041, 521-0767
Atty. Ulep also alleged that The Legal Clinic published an article entitled Rx for Legal
Problems in Star Week of the Philippine Star wherein Nogales stated that the The

Legal Clinic was composed of specialists that can take care of a clients problem no
matter how complicated it is even if it is as complicated as the Sharon CunetaGabby Concepcion situation. He said that he and his staff of lawyers, who, like
doctors, are specialists in various fields, could take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc.
has specialists in taxation and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor, litigation
and family law. A battery of paralegals, counselors and attorneys backs up these
specialists.
Ulep claims that such advertisements were unethical and destructive to the
confidence of the community in the integrity of lawyers. In its answer to the petition,
respondent admitted the fact of publication of said advertisements at its instance,
but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal
support services" through paralegals.
As for its advertisement, Nogales said it should be allowed in view of the
jurisprudence in the US which now allows it (John Bates vs. The State Bar of Arizona)
and that besides, the advertisement was merely making known to the public the
services that The Legal Clinic offers.
Issue:
Whether or not The Legal Clinic was engaged in the practice of law and if such was
allowed and its advertisement may be allowed?

Held and Ratio:


Yes. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law however, such practice is not
allowed. The Legal Clinic is composed mainly of paralegals. The services it offered
include various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from
simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings.
Most of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather,
are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law. Under Philippine
jurisdiction however, the services being offered by Legal Clinic, which constitute
practice of law, cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a
member of the bar and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice
law.
Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of
Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services
shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of
facts. The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyers advertisement of
his talents.
A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession, advertise his talents
or skills as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. Further, the
advertisements of Legal Clinic seem to promote divorce, secret marriage, bigamous

marriage, and other circumventions of law, which their experts can facilitate. Such is
highly reprehensible.
The Supreme Court also noted which forms of advertisement are allowed. The best
advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional
capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as the outcome of character and
conduct.
Good and efficient service to a client as well as to the community has a way of
publicizing itself and catching public attention. That publicity is a normal by-product
of effective service, which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no
artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees the
difference between a normal by-product of able service and the unwholesome result
of propaganda.
The Supreme Court also enumerated the following as allowed forms of
advertisement:
1.
Advertisement in a reputable law list
2.
Use of ordinary simple professional card
3.
Listing in a phone directory but without designation as to his specialization