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G.R. No.

100113 September 3, 1991


RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner,
vs.
CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA,
COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO
CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary of Budget and
Management, respondents.
Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.
Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for
petitioner.

PARAS, J.:p
We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching
proportions. While ostensibly only legal issues are involved,
the Court's decision in this case would indubitably have a
profound effect on the political aspect of our national
existence.
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:
There shall be a Commission on Elections
composed of a Chairman and six
Commissioners who shall be natural-born
citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of
their appointment, at least thirty-five years
of age, holders of a college degree, and
must not have been candidates for any
elective position in the immediately
preceding -elections. However, a majority
thereof, including the Chairman, shall be
members of the Philippine Bar who have
been engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years. (Emphasis supplied)
The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l),
Article XII-C of the 1973 Constitution which similarly provides:
There shall be an independent Commission on Elections
composed of a Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall
be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of
their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age and holders
of a college degree. However, a majority thereof, including the
Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have
been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.'
(Emphasis supplied)
Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as
to what constitutes practice of law as a legal qualification to
an appointive office.
Black defines "practice of law" as:
The rendition of services requiring the
knowledge and the application of legal
principles and technique to serve the

interest of another with his consent. It is not


limited to appearing in court, or advising
and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but
embraces the preparation of pleadings, and
other papers incident to actions and special
proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation
of legal instruments of all kinds, and the
giving of all legal advice to clients. It
embraces all advice to clients and all
actions taken for them in matters connected
with the law. An attorney engages in the
practice of law by maintaining an office
where he is held out to be-an attorney,
using a letterhead describing himself as an
attorney, counseling clients in legal matters,
negotiating with opposing counsel about
pending litigation, and fixing and collecting
fees for services rendered by his associate.
(Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in
court. (Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken,129 Ohio
St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A person is also considered to be in the
practice of law when he:
... for valuable consideration engages in the
business of advising person, firms,
associations or corporations as to their
rights under the law, or appears in a
representative capacity as an advocate in
proceedings pending or prospective, before
any court, commissioner, referee, board,
body, committee, or commission constituted
by law or authorized to settle controversies
and there, in such representative capacity
performs any act or acts for the purpose of
obtaining or defending the rights of their
clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one
who, in a representative capacity, engages
in the business of advising clients as to their
rights under the law, or while so engaged
performs any act or acts either in court or
outside of court for that purpose, is engaged
in the practice of law. (State ex. rel.
Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S.W.
2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association
v.Agrava, (105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated:
The practice of law is not limited to the
conduct of cases or litigation in court; it
embraces the preparation of pleadings and
other papers incident to actions and special
proceedings, the management of such
actions and proceedings on behalf of clients
before judges and courts, and in addition,
conveying. In general, all advice to clients,
and all action taken for them in
mattersconnected with the
law incorporation services, assessment and
condemnation services contemplating an
appearance before a judicial body, the
foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a

creditor's claim in bankruptcy and


insolvency proceedings, and conducting
proceedings in attachment, and in matters
of estate and guardianship have been held
to constitute law practice, as do the
preparation and drafting of legal
instruments, where the work done involves
the determination by the trained legal mind
of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5
Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). (Emphasis supplied)
Practice of law under modem conditions
consists in no small part of work performed
outside of any court and having no
immediate relation to proceedings in court.
It embraces conveyancing, the giving of
legal advice on a large variety of subjects,
and the preparation and execution of legal
instruments covering an extensive field of
business and trust relations and other
affairs. Although these transactions may
have no direct connection with court
proceedings, they are always subject to
become involved in litigation. They require
in many aspects a high degree of legal skill,
a wide experience with men and affairs, and
great capacity for adaptation to difficult and
complex situations. These customary
functions of an attorney or counselor at law
bear an intimate relation to the
administration of justice by the courts. No
valid distinction, so far as concerns the
question set forth in the order, can be drawn
between that part of the work of the lawyer
which involves appearance in court and that
part which involves advice and drafting of
instruments in his office. It is of importance
to the welfare of the public that these
manifold customary functions be performed
by persons possessed of adequate learning
and skill, of sound moral character, and
acting at all times under the heavy trust
obligations to clients which rests upon all
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules
of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-666,
citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.],
194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc.
v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A.
139,144). (Emphasis ours)
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting
orientation briefing for new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the
dimensions of the practice of law in even broader terms as
advocacy, counselling and public service.
One may be a practicing attorney in
following any line of employment in the
profession. If what he does exacts
knowledge of the law and is of a kind usual
for attorneys engaging in the active practice
of their profession, and he follows some one
or more lines of employment such as this he
is a practicing attorney at law within the
meaning of the statute. (Barr v. Cardell, 155
NW 312)

Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which


requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge,
training and experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to
perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession.
Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind
of service, which device or service requires the use in any
degree of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission
show that it has adopted a liberal interpretation of the term
"practice of law."
MR. FOZ. Before we
suspend the session, may
I make a manifestation
which I forgot to do during
our review of the
provisions on the
Commission on Audit. May
I be allowed to make a
very brief statement?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER
(Mr. Jamir).
The Commissioner will
please proceed.
MR. FOZ. This has to do
with the qualifications of
the members of the
Commission on Audit.
Among others, the
qualifications provided for
by Section I is that "They
must be Members of the
Philippine Bar" I am
quoting from the provision
"who have been
engaged in the practice of
law for at least ten years".
To avoid any misunderstanding which would
result in excluding members of the Bar who
are now employed in the COA or
Commission on Audit, we would like to
make the clarification that this provision on
qualifications regarding members of the Bar
does not necessarily refer or involve actual
practice of law outside the COA We have to
interpret this to mean that as long as the
lawyers who are employed in the COA are
using their legal knowledge or legal talent in
their respective work within COA, then they
are qualified to be considered for
appointment as members or commissioners,
even chairman, of the Commission on Audit.
This has been discussed by the Committee
on Constitutional Commissions and
Agencies and we deem it important to take
it up on the floor so that this interpretation
may be made available whenever this
provision on the qualifications as regards

members of the Philippine Bar engaging in


the practice of law for at least ten years is
taken up.
MR. OPLE. Will
Commissioner Foz yield to
just one question.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding
Officer.
MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect,
saying that service in the
COA by a lawyer is
equivalent to the
requirement of a law
practice that is set forth in
the Article on the
Commission on Audit?
MR. FOZ. We must
consider the fact that the
work of COA, although it is
auditing, will necessarily
involve legal work; it will
involve legal work. And,
therefore, lawyers who
are employed in COA now
would have the necessary
qualifications in
accordance with the
Provision on qualifications
under our provisions on
the Commission on Audit.
And, therefore, the
answer is yes.
MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the
construction given to this
is that this is equivalent to
the practice of law.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr.
Presiding Officer.
MR. OPLE. Thank you.
... ( Emphasis supplied)
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides,
among others, that the Chairman and two Commissioners of
the Commission on Audit (COA) should either be certified
public accountants with not less than ten years of auditing
practice, or members of the Philippine Bar who have been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
(emphasis supplied)
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is
in many ways synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today,
although many lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is
still a fact that the majority of lawyers are private
practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law
Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15).

At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The


term, as commonly understood, means "an individual or
organization engaged in the business of delivering legal
services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice alone are often called
"sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The
firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the
partners. Some firms may be organized as professional
corporations and the members called shareholders. In either
case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys.
In most firms, there are younger or more inexperienced
salaried attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.).
The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional
areas of law practice is essentially tautologous, unhelpful
defining the practice of law as that which lawyers do. (Charles
W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.:
Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of law is defined as
the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly
understood to be the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v.
Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863,
870 [1958] [quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn.
325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]). Because lawyers perform
almost every function known in the commercial and
governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too
global to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.).
The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is
at once the most publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as
an uncommon role for the average lawyer. Most lawyers
spend little time in courtrooms, and a large percentage spend
their entire practice without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593).
Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the
litigating lawyer's role colors much of both the public image
and the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public
mind reflects history, not reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall
that the late Alexander SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once
articulated on the importance of a lawyer as a business
counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still uninformed
laymen whose concept of an attorney is one who principally
tries cases before the courts. The members of the bench and
bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen, know that
in most developed societies today, substantially more legal
work is transacted in law offices than in the courtrooms.
General practitioners of law who do both litigation and nonlitigation work also know that in most cases they find
themselves spending more time doing what [is] loosely
desccribe[d] as business counseling than in trying cases. The
business lawyer has been described as the planner, the
diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need not
[be] stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be
avoided where internal medicine can be effective." (Business
Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In the course of a working day the average general
practitioner wig engage in a number of legal tasks, each
involving different legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes,
legal institutions, clients, and other interested parties. Even
the increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig
usually perform at least some legal services outside their
specialty. And even within a narrow specialty such as tax
practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as
advice-giving to an importantly different one such as

representing a client before an administrative agency.


(Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless
the lawyer is one of the relatively rare types a litigator who
specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead,
the work will require the lawyer to have mastered the full
range of traditional lawyer skills of client counselling, advicegiving, document drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly
lawyers find that the new skills of evaluation and mediation
are both effective for many clients and a source of
employment. (Ibid.).
Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in
litigation work that is constrained in very important ways, at
least theoretically, so as to remove from it some of the salient
features of adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the
most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some lawyers' work
the constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client
and by the way in which the lawyer is organized into a social
unit to perform that work. The most common of these roles
are those of corporate practice and government legal service.
(Ibid.).
In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein
below quoted are emerging trends in corporate law practice, a
departure from the traditional concept of practice of law.
We are experiencing today what truly may
be called a revolutionary transformation in
corporate law practice. Lawyers and other
professional groups, in particular those
members participating in various legalpolicy decisional contexts, are finding that
understanding the major emerging trends in
corporation law is indispensable to
intelligent decision-making.
Constructive adjustment to major corporate
problems of today requires an accurate
understanding of the nature and
implications of the corporate law research
function accompanied by an accelerating
rate of information accumulation. The
recognition of the need for such improved
corporate legal policy formulation,
particularly "model-making" and
"contingency planning," has impressed upon
us the inadequacy of traditional procedures
in many decisional contexts.
In a complex legal problem the mass of
information to be processed, the sorting and
weighing of significant conditional factors,
the appraisal of major trends, the necessity
of estimating the consequences of given
courses of action, and the need for fast
decision and response in situations of acute
danger have prompted the use of
sophisticated concepts of information flow
theory, operational analysis, automatic data
processing, and electronic computing
equipment. Understandably, an improved
decisional structure must stress the
predictive component of the policy-making

process, wherein a "model", of the


decisional context or a segment thereof is
developed to test projected alternative
courses of action in terms of futuristic
effects flowing therefrom.
Although members of the legal profession
are regularly engaged in predicting and
projecting the trends of the law, the subject
of corporate finance law has received
relatively little organized and formalized
attention in the philosophy of advancing
corporate legal education. Nonetheless, a
cross-disciplinary approach to legal research
has become a vital necessity.
Certainly, the general orientation for
productive contributions by those trained
primarily in the law can be improved
through an early introduction to multivariable decisional context and the various
approaches for handling such problems.
Lawyers, particularly with either a master's
or doctorate degree in business
administration or management, functioning
at the legal policy level of decision-making
now have some appreciation for the
concepts and analytical techniques of other
professions which are currently engaged in
similar types of complex decision-making.
Truth to tell, many situations involving
corporate finance problems would require
the services of an astute attorney because
of the complex legal implications that arise
from each and every necessary step in
securing and maintaining the business issue
raised. (Business Star, "Corporate Finance
Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In our litigation-prone country, a corporate
lawyer is assiduously referred to as the
"abogado de campanilla." He is the "bigtime" lawyer, earning big money and with a
clientele composed of the tycoons and
magnates of business and industry.
Despite the growing number of corporate
lawyers, many people could not explain
what it is that a corporate lawyer does. For
one, the number of attorneys employed by a
single corporation will vary with the size and
type of the corporation. Many smaller and
some large corporations farm out all their
legal problems to private law firms. Many
others have in-house counsel only for
certain matters. Other corporation have a
staff large enough to handle most legal
problems in-house.
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and
purposes, is a lawyer who handles the legal
affairs of a corporation. His areas of concern
or jurisdiction may include, inter alia:
corporate legal research, tax laws research,

acting out as corporate secretary (in board


meetings), appearances in both courts and
other adjudicatory agencies (including the
Securities and Exchange Commission), and
in other capacities which require an ability
to deal with the law.
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume
responsibilities other than the legal affairs of
the business of the corporation he is
representing. These include such matters as
determining policy and becoming involved
in management. ( Emphasis supplied.)
In a big company, for example, one may
have a feeling of being isolated from the
action, or not understanding how one's work
actually fits into the work of the
orgarnization. This can be frustrating to
someone who needs to see the results of his
work first hand. In short, a corporate lawyer
is sometimes offered this fortune to be more
closely involved in the running of the
business.
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may
sometimes be engaged by a multinational
corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs
provide one of the few opportunities
available to corporate lawyers to enter the
international law field. After all, international
law is practiced in a relatively small number
of companies and law firms. Because
working in a foreign country is perceived by
many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted
by corporate lawyers. In most cases,
however, the overseas jobs go to
experienced attorneys while the younger
attorneys do their "international practice" in
law libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate Law
Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4).
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role
of the lawyer in the realm of finance. To
borrow the lines of Harvard-educated lawyer
Bruce Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is
one who fails to spot problems, a good
lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties,
and the excellent lawyer is one who
surmounts them." (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p.
4).
Today, the study of corporate law practice
direly needs a "shot in the arm," so to
speak. No longer are we talking of the
traditional law teaching method of confining
the subject study to the Corporation Code
and the Securities Code but an incursion as
well into the intertwining modern
management issues.
Such corporate legal management issues
deal primarily with three (3) types of
learning: (1) acquisition of insights into

current advances which are of particular


significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an
introduction to usable disciplinary skins
applicable to a corporate counsel's
management responsibilities; and (3) a
devotion to the organization and
management of the legal function itself.
These three subject areas may be thought
of as intersecting circles, with a shared area
linking them. Otherwise known as
"intersecting managerial jurisprudence," it
forms a unifying theme for the corporate
counsel's total learning.
Some current advances in behavior and
policy sciences affect the counsel's role. For
that matter, the corporate lawyer reviews
the globalization process, including the
resulting strategic repositioning that the
firms he provides counsel for are required to
make, and the need to think about a
corporation's; strategy at multiple levels.
The salience of the nation-state is being
reduced as firms deal both with global
multinational entities and simultaneously
with sub-national governmental units. Firms
increasingly collaborate not only with public
entities but with each other often with
those who are competitors in other arenas.
Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation
in decision-making within the corporation is
rapidly changing. The modem corporate
lawyer has gained a new role as a
stakeholder in some cases participating
in the organization and operations of
governance through participation on boards
and other decision-making roles. Often
these new patterns develop alongside
existing legal institutions and laws are
perceived as barriers. These trends are
complicated as corporations organize for
global operations. ( Emphasis supplied)
The practising lawyer of today is familiar as
well with governmental policies toward the
promotion and management of technology.
New collaborative arrangements for
promoting specific technologies or
competitiveness more generally require
approaches from industry that differ from
older, more adversarial relationships and
traditional forms of seeking to influence
governmental policies. And there are
lessons to be learned from other countries.
In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are
examples of collaborative efforts between
governmental and business Japan's MITI is
world famous. (Emphasis supplied)
Following the concept of boundary
spanning, the office of the Corporate
Counsel comprises a distinct group within
the managerial structure of all kinds of

organizations. Effectiveness of both longterm and temporary groups within


organizations has been found to be related
to indentifiable factors in the group-context
interaction such as the groups actively
revising their knowledge of the environment
coordinating work with outsiders, promoting
team achievements within the organization.
In general, such external activities are
better predictors of team performance than
internal group processes.
In a crisis situation, the legal managerial
capabilities of the corporate lawyer vis-a-vis
the managerial mettle of corporations are
challenged. Current research is seeking
ways both to anticipate effective managerial
procedures and to understand relationships
of financial liability and insurance
considerations. (Emphasis supplied)
Regarding the skills to apply by the
corporate counsel, three factors
are apropos:
First System Dynamics. The field of systems
dynamics has been found an effective tool
for new managerial thinking regarding both
planning and pressing immediate problems.
An understanding of the role of feedback
loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow,
enable users to simulate all sorts of
systematic problems physical, economic,
managerial, social, and psychological. New
programming techniques now make the
system dynamics principles more accessible
to managers including corporate
counsels. (Emphasis supplied)
Second Decision Analysis. This enables
users to make better decisions involving
complexity and uncertainty. In the context
of a law department, it can be used to
appraise the settlement value of litigation,
aid in negotiation settlement, and minimize
the cost and risk involved in managing a
portfolio of cases. (Emphasis supplied)
Third Modeling for Negotiation Management.
Computer-based models can be used
directly by parties and mediators in all lands
of negotiations. All integrated set of such
tools provide coherent and effective
negotiation support, including hands-on on
instruction in these techniques. A simulation
case of an international joint venture may
be used to illustrate the point.
[Be this as it may,] the organization and
management of the legal function, concern
three pointed areas of consideration, thus:
Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers
requires special skills that comprise a major

part of the general counsel's responsibilities.


They differ from those of remedial law.
Preventive lawyering is concerned with
minimizing the risks of legal trouble and
maximizing legal rights for such legal
entities at that time when transactional or
similar facts are being considered and
made.
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the
framework within which are undertaken
those activities of the firm to which legal
consequences attach. It needs to be directly
supportive of this nation's evolving
economic and organizational fabric as firms
change to stay competitive in a global,
interdependent environment. The practice
and theory of "law" is not adequate today to
facilitate the relationships needed in trying
to make a global economy work.
Organization and Functioning of the
Corporate Counsel's Office. The general
counsel has emerged in the last decade as
one of the most vibrant subsets of the legal
profession. The corporate counsel hear
responsibility for key aspects of the firm's
strategic issues, including structuring its
global operations, managing improved
relationships with an increasingly diversified
body of employees, managing expanded
liability exposure, creating new and varied
interactions with public decision-makers,
coping internally with more complex make
or by decisions.
This whole exercise drives home the thesis
that knowing corporate law is not enough to
make one a good general corporate counsel
nor to give him a full sense of how the legal
system shapes corporate activities. And
even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the
understand all of the law's effects on
corporate activities, he must, at the very
least, also gain a working knowledge of the
management issues if only to be able to
grasp not only the basic legal "constitution'
or makeup of the modem corporation.
"Business Star", "The Corporate Counsel,"
April 10, 1991, p. 4).
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar
and the bench) is to have more than a
passing knowledge of financial law affecting
each aspect of their work. Yet, many would
admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the
financial law territory. What transpires next
is a dilemma of professional security: Will
the lawyer admit ignorance and risk
opprobrium?; or will he feign understanding
and risk exposure? (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, p.
4).

Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President


Corazon C. Aquino to the position of Chairman of the
COMELEC in a letter received by the Secretariat of the
Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner
opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not
possess the required qualification of having been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years.
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed
the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On
June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he
assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC.
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the
Commission on Appointments of Monsod's nomination,
petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition
for certiorari and Prohibition praying that said confirmation
and the consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of
the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.
Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar,
having passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of
86-55%. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has
also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for
more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo)
After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having
hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the law office of his
father. During his stint in the World Bank Group (19631970), Monsod worked as an operations officer for about two
years in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved getting
acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating
loans and coordinating legal, economic, and project work of
the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he
worked with the Meralco Group, served as chief executive
officer of an investment bank and subsequently of a business
conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to
various companies as a legal and economic consultant or
chief executive officer. As former Secretary-General (1986)
and National Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work
involved being knowledgeable in election law. He appeared
for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before the Comelec.
In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal capacity and
as former Co-Chairman of the Bishops Businessmen's
Conference for Human Development, has worked with the
under privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban poor
groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative
action for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land
reform bill. Monsod also made use of his legal knowledge as a
member of the Davide Commission, a quast judicial body,
which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as a member
of the Constitutional Commission (1986-1987), and Chairman
of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for which
he was cited by the President of the Commission, Justice
Cecilia Muoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to
reconcile government functions with individual freedoms and
public accountability and the party-list system for the House
of Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied)
Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which
Atty. Monsod used to be a member.
In a loan agreement, for instance, a
negotiating panel acts as a team, and which

is adequately constituted to meet the


various contingencies that arise during a
negotiation. Besides top officials of the
Borrower concerned, there are the legal
officer (such as the legal counsel), the
finance manager, and an operations
officer (such as an official involved in
negotiating the contracts) who comprise the
members of the team. (Guillermo V. Soliven,
"Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing
Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2,
Central Bank of the Philippines, Manila,
1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied)
After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a
country's Constitution; it lays down the law
as far as the loan transaction is concerned.
Thus, the meat of any Loan Agreement can
be compartmentalized into five (5)
fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2)
borrower's representation; (3) conditions of
closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of
default. (Ibid., p. 13).
In the same vein, lawyers play an important
role in any debt restructuring program. For
aside from performing the tasks of
legislative drafting and legal advising, they
score national development policies as key
factors in maintaining their countries'
sovereignty. (Condensed from the work
paper, entitled "Wanted: Development
Lawyers for Developing Nations," submitted
by L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser
of the United States Agency for International
Development, during the Session on Law for
the Development of Nations at the Abidjan
World Conference in Ivory Coast, sponsored
by the World Peace Through Law Center on
August 26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied)
Loan concessions and compromises,
perhaps even more so than purely
renegotiation policies, demand expertise in
the law of contracts, in legislation and
agreement drafting and in renegotiation.
Necessarily, a sovereign lawyer may work
with an international business specialist or
an economist in the formulation of a model
loan agreement. Debt restructuring contract
agreements contain such a mixture of
technical language that they should be
carefully drafted and signed only with the
advise of competent counsel in conjunction
with the guidance of adequate technical
support personnel. (See International Law
Aspects of the Philippine External Debts, an
unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate
School of Law, 1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis
supplied)
A critical aspect of sovereign debt
restructuring/contract construction is the set
of terms and conditions which determines
the contractual remedies for a failure to

perform one or more elements of the


contract. A good agreement must not only
define the responsibilities of both parties,
but must also state the recourse open to
either party when the other fails to
discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt
restructuring represents a devotion to that
principle which in the ultimate analysis
issine qua non for foreign loan agreementsan adherence to the rule of law in domestic
and international affairs of whose kind U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no
banners, they beat no drums; but where
they are, men learn that bustle and bush are
not the equal of quiet genius and serene
mastery." (See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role
of Lawyers in Foreign Investments,"
Integrated Bar of the Philippine Journal, Vol.
15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth Quarters,
1977, p. 265).
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term
Practice of law". particularly the modern concept of law
practice, and taking into consideration the liberal construction
intended by the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's
past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyermanager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyernegotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the
rich and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional
requirement that he has been engaged in the practice of
law for at least ten years.
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service
Commission, 143 SCRA 327, the Court said:
Appointment is an essentially discretionary
power and must be performed by the officer
in which it is vested according to his best
lights, the only condition being that the
appointee should possess the qualifications
required by law. If he does, then the
appointment cannot be faulted on the
ground that there are others better qualified
who should have been preferred. This is a
political question involving considerations of
wisdom which only the appointing authority
can decide. (emphasis supplied)
No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v.
Civil Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated:
It is well-settled that when the appointee is
qualified, as in this case, and all the other
legal requirements are satisfied, the
Commission has no alternative but to attest
to the appointment in accordance with the
Civil Service Law. The Commission has no
authority to revoke an appointment on the
ground that another person is more
qualified for a particular position. It also has
no authority to direct the appointment of a
substitute of its choice. To do so would
be an encroachment on the discretion
vested upon the appointing authority. An

appointment is essentially within the


discretionary power of whomsoever it is
vested, subject to the only condition that
the appointee should possess the
qualifications required by law. ( Emphasis
supplied)
The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the
case at bar, consists of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2)
confirmation by the Commission on Appointments; (3)
issuance of a commission (in the Philippines, upon submission
by the Commission on Appointments of its certificate of
confirmation, the President issues the permanent
appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of
bond, etc. . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14,
1949; Gonzales, Law on Public Officers, p. 200)
The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its
consent to the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the
Commission on Elections is mandated by Section 1(2) SubArticle C, Article IX of the Constitution which provides:
The Chairman and the Commisioners shall
be appointed by the President with the
consent of the Commission on Appointments
for a term of seven years without
reappointment. Of those first appointed,
three Members shall hold office for seven
years, two Members for five years, and the
last Members for three years, without
reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy
shall be only for the unexpired term of the
predecessor. In no case shall any Member
be appointed or designated in a temporary
or acting capacity.
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate
opinion, suffice it to say that his definition of
the practice of law is the traditional or
stereotyped notion of law practice, as
distinguished from the modern concept of
the practice of law, which modern
connotation is exactly what was intended by
the eminent framers of the 1987
Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's
definition would require generally a habitual
law practice, perhaps practised two or three
times a week and would outlaw say, law
practice once or twice a year for ten
consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from
the constitutional intent.
Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani
Cruz states that in my written opinion, I made use of a
definition of law practice which really means nothing because
the definition says that law practice " . . . is what people
ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True I cited the
definition but only by way of sarcasm as evident from my
statement that the definition of law practice by "traditional
areas of law practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a
phrase by means of the phrase itself that is being defined.
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law
covers almost all situations, most individuals, in making use of
the law, or in advising others on what the law means, are

actually practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we should


not lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a lawyer, a
member of the Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for
over ten years. This is different from the acts of persons
practising law, without first becoming lawyers.
Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even
disqualify an elected President of the Philippines, say, on the
ground that he lacks one or more qualifications. This matter, I
greatly doubt. For one thing, how can an action or petition be
brought against the President? And even assuming that he is
indeed disqualified, how can the action be entertained since
he is the incumbent President?
We now proceed:

No blood shall flow from his veins.


When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the
procurator placed an iron rod burning white-hot two or three
inches away from in front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the
man. Upon hearing of what had happened to her beloved,
Delilah was beside herself with anger, and fuming with
righteous fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his
word. The procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his
skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was
clearly relying on the letter, not the spirit of the agreement.
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling


the public hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly
determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as
required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in
the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond
judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where
such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court
interfere with the Commission's judgment. In the instant case,
there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective
power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion,
that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would
warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly
shown.
Additionally, consider the following:
(1) If the Commission on
Appointments rejects a nominee by the
President, may the Supreme Court reverse
the Commission, and thus in
effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the
answer is in the negative.
(2) In the same vein, may the
Court reject the nominee, whom the
Commission has confirmed? The answer is
likewise clear.
(3) If the United States Senate (which is the
confirming body in the U.S. Congress)
decides to confirma Presidential nominee, it
would be incredible that the U.S. Supreme
Court would still reverse the U.S. Senate.
Finally, one significant legal maxim is:
We must interpret not by the letter that
killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life.
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the
procurator of Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's
beloved) for help in capturing Samson. Delilah agreed on
condition that
No blade shall touch his skin;

Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993


MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner,
vs.
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent.

R E SO L U T I O N

REGALADO, J.:
Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease
and desist from issuing advertisements similar to or of the
same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said petition)
and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from making
advertisements pertaining to the exercise of the law
profession other than those allowed by law."
The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as
follows:
Annex A
SECRET MARRIAGE?
P560.00 for a valid marriage.
Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE.
ANNULMENT. VISA.
THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232,
5222041 CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am 6:00 pm 7Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Mla.
Annex B
GUAM DIVORCE.

rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with


the use of modern computers and electronic machines.
Respondent further argues that assuming that the services
advertised are legal services, the act of advertising these
services should be allowed supposedly
in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs.
State Bar of Arizona, 2 reportedly decided by the United States
Supreme Court on June 7, 1977.
Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of
the issues raised herein, we required the (1) Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3)
Philippine Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens
Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of
the Philippines (WLAP), and (6) Federacion International de
Abogadas (FIDA) to submit their respective position papers on
the controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The said
bar associations readily responded and extended their
valuable services and cooperation of which this Court takes
note with appreciation and gratitude.
The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are
whether or not the services offered by respondent, The Legal
Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes practice of law and,
in either case, whether the same can properly be the subject
of the advertisements herein complained of.
Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of
this case, we deem it proper and enlightening to present
hereunder excerpts from the respective position papers
adopted by the aforementioned bar associations and the
memoranda submitted by them on the issues involved in this
bar matter.

DON PARKINSON
1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines:
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 Retiree's Visa.
Declaration of Absence. Remarriage to
Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in
the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina
Spouse/Children. Call Marivic.
THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL
Ermita, Manila nr. US Embassy CLINIC, INC. 1
Tel. 521-7232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 5210767
It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements
above reproduced are champterous, unethical, demeaning of
the law profession, and destructive of the confidence of the
community in the integrity of the members of the bar and
that, as a member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and
offended by the said advertisements, hence the reliefs sought
in his petition as hereinbefore quoted.
In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of
publication of said advertisement at its instance, but claims
that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the

xxx xxx xxx


Notwithstanding the subtle manner by
which respondent endeavored to distinguish
the two terms,i.e., "legal support
services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common
sense would readily dictate that the same
are essentially without substantial
distinction. For who could deny that
document search, evidence gathering,
assistance to layman in need of basic
institutional services from government or
non-government agencies like birth,
marriage, property, or business registration,
obtaining documents like clearance,
passports, local or foreign visas, constitutes
practice of law?
xxx xxx xxx
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
does not wish to make issue with
respondent's foreign citations. Suffice it to
state that the IBP has made its position
manifest, to wit, that it strongly opposes the
view espoused by respondent (to the effect
that today it is alright to advertise one's
legal services).

The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain


terms its opposition to respondent's act of
establishing a "legal clinic" and of
concomitantly advertising the same through
newspaper publications.
The IBP would therefore invoke the
administrative supervision of this Honorable
Court to perpetually restrain respondent
from undertaking highly unethical activities
in the field of law practice as
aforedescribed. 4
xxx xxx xxx
A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic,
Inc." gives the impression that respondent
corporation is being operated by lawyers
and that it renders legal services.
While the respondent repeatedly denies that
it offers legal services to the public, the
advertisements in question give the
impression that respondent is offering legal
services. The Petition in fact simply assumes
this to be so, as earlier mentioned,
apparently because this (is) the effect that
the advertisements have on the reading
public.
The impression created by the
advertisements in question can be traced,
first of all, to the very name being used by
respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a
name, it is respectfully submitted connotes
the rendering of legal services for legal
problems, just like a medical clinic connotes
medical services for medical problems. More
importantly, the term "Legal Clinic"
connotes lawyers, as the term medical clinic
connotes doctors.
Furthermore, the respondent's name, as
published in the advertisements subject of
the present case, appears with (the) scale(s)
of justice, which all the more reinforces the
impression that it is being operated by
members of the bar and that it offers legal
services. In addition, the advertisements in
question appear with a picture and name of
a person being represented as a lawyer
from Guam, and this practically removes
whatever doubt may still remain as to the
nature of the service or services being
offered.
It thus becomes irrelevant whether
respondent is merely offering "legal support
services" as claimed by it, or whether it
offers legal services as any lawyer actively
engaged in law practice does. And it
becomes unnecessary to make a distinction
between "legal services" and "legal support
services," as the respondent would have it.

The advertisements in question leave no


room for doubt in the minds of the reading
public that legal services are being offered
by lawyers, whether true or not.
B. The advertisements in question are
meant to induce the performance of acts
contrary to law, morals, public order and
public policy.
It may be conceded that, as the respondent
claims, the advertisements in question are
only meant to inform the general public of
the services being offered by it. Said
advertisements, however, emphasize to
Guam divorce, and any law student ought to
know that under the Family Code, there is
only one instance when a foreign divorce is
recognized, and that is:
Article 26. . . .
Where a marriage
between a Filipino citizen
and a foreigner is validly
celebrated and a divorce
is thereafter validly
obtained abroad by the
alien spouse capacitating
him or her to remarry, the
Filipino spouse shall have
capacity to remarry under
Philippine Law.
It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family
Code (defines) a marriage as follows:
Article 1. Marriage
is special contract of
permanent union between
a man and woman
entered into accordance
with law for the
establishment of conjugal
and family life. It is the
foundation of the family
and an inviolable social
institution whose nature,
consequences, and
incidents are governed by
law and not subject to
stipulation, except that
marriage settlements may
fix the property relation
during the marriage within
the limits provided by this
Code.
By simply reading the questioned
advertisements, it is obvious that the
message being conveyed is that Filipinos
can avoid the legal consequences of a
marriage celebrated in accordance with our
law, by simply going to Guam for a divorce.

This is not only misleading, but encourages,


or serves to induce, violation of Philippine
law. At the very least, this can be considered
"the dark side" of legal practice, where
certain defects in Philippine laws are
exploited for the sake of profit. At worst, this
is outright malpractice.
Rule 1.02. A lawyer
shall not counsel or abet
activities aimed at
defiance of the law or at
lessening confidence in
the legal system.
In addition, it may also be relevant to point
out that advertisements such as that shown
in Annex "A" of the Petition, which contains
a cartoon of a motor vehicle with the words
"Just Married" on its bumper and seems to
address those planning a "secret marriage,"
if not suggesting a "secret marriage," makes
light of the "special contract of permanent
union," the inviolable social institution,"
which is how the Family Code describes
marriage, obviously to emphasize its
sanctity and inviolability. Worse, this
particular advertisement appears to
encourage marriages celebrated in secrecy,
which is suggestive of immoral publication
of applications for a marriage license.
If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be
reviewed, it can readily be concluded that
the above impressions one may gather from
the advertisements in question are
accurate. The Sharon Cuneta-Gabby
Concepcion example alone confirms what
the advertisements suggest. Here it can be
seen that criminal acts are being
encouraged or committed
(a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las
Vegas) with impunity simply because the
jurisdiction of Philippine courts does not
extend to the place where the crime is
committed.
Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the
"legal support services" respondent offers
do not constitute legal services as
commonly understood, the advertisements
in question give the impression that
respondent corporation is being operated by
lawyers and that it offers legal services, as
earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical
consequence is that, in the eyes of an
ordinary newspaper reader, members of the
bar themselves are encouraging or inducing
the performance of acts which are contrary
to law, morals, good customs and the public
good, thereby destroying and demeaning
the integrity of the Bar.
xxx xxx xxx

It is respectfully submitted that respondent


should be enjoined from causing the
publication of the advertisements in
question, or any other advertisements
similar thereto. It is also submitted that
respondent should be prohibited from
further performing or offering some of the
services it presently offers, or, at the very
least, from offering such services to the
public in general.
The IBP is aware of the fact that providing
computerized legal research, electronic data
gathering, storage and retrieval,
standardized legal forms, investigators for
gathering of evidence, and like services will
greatly benefit the legal profession and
should not be stifled but instead
encouraged. However, when the conduct of
such business by non-members of the Bar
encroaches upon the practice of law, there
can be no choice but to prohibit such
business.
Admittedly, many of the services involved in
the case at bar can be better performed by
specialists in other fields, such as computer
experts, who by reason of their having
devoted time and effort exclusively to such
field cannot fulfill the exacting requirements
for admission to the Bar. To prohibit them
from "encroaching" upon the legal
profession will deny the profession of the
great benefits and advantages of modern
technology. Indeed, a lawyer using a
computer will be doing better than a lawyer
using a typewriter, even if both are (equal)
in skill.
Both the Bench and the Bar, however,
should be careful not to allow or tolerate the
illegal practice of law in any form, not only
for the protection of members of the Bar but
also, and more importantly, for the
protection of the public. Technological
development in the profession may be
encouraged without tolerating, but instead
ensuring prevention of illegal practice.
There might be nothing objectionable if
respondent is allowed to perform all of its
services, but only if such services are made
available exclusively to members of the
Bench and Bar. Respondent would then be
offering technical assistance, not legal
services. Alternatively, the more difficult
task of carefully distinguishing between
which service may be offered to the public
in general and which should be made
available exclusively to members of the Bar
may be undertaken. This, however, may
require further proceedings because of the
factual considerations involved.

It must be emphasized, however, that some


of respondent's services ought to be
prohibited outright, such as acts which tend
to suggest or induce celebration abroad of
marriages which are bigamous or otherwise
illegal and void under Philippine law. While
respondent may not be prohibited from
simply disseminating information regarding
such matters, it must be required to include,
in the information given, a disclaimer that it
is not authorized to practice law, that
certain course of action may be illegal under
Philippine law, that it is not authorized or
capable of rendering a legal opinion, that a
lawyer should be consulted before deciding
on which course of action to take, and that it
cannot recommend any particular lawyer
without subjecting itself to possible
sanctions for illegal practice of law.

the fields of law belies its pretense. From all


indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic,
Inc." is offering and rendering legal
services through its reserve of lawyers. It
has been held that the practice of law is not
limited to the conduct of cases in court, but
includes drawing of deeds, incorporation,
rendering opinions, and advising clients as
to their legal right and then take them to an
attorney and ask the latter to look after
their case in court See Martin, Legal and
Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed., p. 39).

The benefits of being assisted by paralegals


cannot be ignored. But nobody should be
allowed to represent himself as a
"paralegal" for profit, without such term
being clearly defined by rule or regulation,
and without any adequate and effective
means of regulating his activities. Also, law
practice in a corporate form may prove to
be advantageous to the legal profession, but
before allowance of such practice may be
considered, the corporation's Article of
Incorporation and By-laws must conform to
each and every provision of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and the Rules of
Court. 5

It is apt to recall that only natural


persons can engage in the practice of law,
and such limitation cannot be evaded by
a corporation employing competent lawyers
to practice for it. Obviously, this is the
scheme or device by which respondent "The
Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the
public and solicits employment of its legal
services. It is an odious vehicle for
deception, especially so when the public
cannot ventilate any grievance
for malpractice against the business
conduit. Precisely, the limitation of practice
of law to persons who have been duly
admitted as members of the Bar (Sec. 1,
Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court) is to
subject the members to the discipline of the
Supreme Court. Although respondent uses
its business name, the persons and the
lawyers who act for it are subject to court
discipline. The practice of law is not a
profession open to all who wish to engage in
it nor can it be assigned to another (See 5
Am. Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to
persons who have qualified themselves
under the law. It follows that not only
respondent but also all the persons who are
acting for respondent are the persons
engaged in unethical law practice. 6

2. Philippine Bar Association:

3. Philippine Lawyers' Association:

If respondent is allowed to advertise,


advertising should be directed exclusively at
members of the Bar, with a clear and
unmistakable disclaimer that it is not
authorized to practice law or perform legal
services.

xxx xxx xxx.


Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged
in the practice of law but engaged in giving
legal support services to lawyers and
laymen, through experienced paralegals,
with the use of modern computers and
electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3,
Comment). This is absurd. Unquestionably,
respondent's acts of holding out itself to the
public under the trade name "The Legal
Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting employment for
its enumerated services fall within the realm
of a practice which thus yields itself to the
regulatory powers of the Supreme Court. For
respondent to say that it is merely engaged
in paralegal work is to stretch credulity.
Respondent's own commercial
advertisement which announces a
certain Atty. Don Parkinson to be handling

The Philippine Lawyers' Association's


position, in answer to the issues stated
herein, are wit:
1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the
practice of law;
2. Such practice is unauthorized;
3. The advertisements complained of are
not only unethical, but also misleading and
patently immoral; and
4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the
power to supress and punish the Legal Clinic
and its corporate officers for its
unauthorized practice of law and for its
unethical, misleading and immoral
advertising.

xxx xxx xxx


Respondent posits that is it not engaged in
the practice of law. It claims that it merely
renders "legal support services" to answers,
litigants and the general public as
enunciated in the Primary Purpose Clause of
its Article(s) of Incorporation. (See pages 2
to 5 of Respondent's Comment). But its
advertised services, as enumerated above,
clearly and convincingly show that it is
indeed engaged in law practice, albeit
outside of court.
As advertised, it offers the general public its
advisory services on Persons and Family
Relations Law, particularly regarding foreign
divorces, annulment of marriages, secret
marriages, absence and adoption;
Immigration Laws, particularly on visa
related problems, immigration problems; the
Investments Law of the Philippines and such
other related laws.
Its advertised services unmistakably require
the application of the aforesaid law, the
legal principles and procedures related
thereto, the legal advices based thereon
and which activities call for legal training,
knowledge and experience.
Applying the test laid down by the Court in
the aforecited Agrava Case, the activities of
respondent fall squarely and are embraced
in what lawyers and laymen equally term as
"the practice of law." 7
4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:
In resolving, the issues before this
Honorable Court, paramount consideration
should be given to the protection of the
general public from the danger of being
exploited by unqualified persons or entities
who may be engaged in the practice of law.
At present, becoming a lawyer requires one
to take a rigorous four-year course of study
on top of a four-year bachelor of arts or
sciences course and then to take and pass
the bar examinations. Only then, is a lawyer
qualified to practice law.
While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in
many jurisdiction as an aid to the
administration of justice, there are in those
jurisdictions, courses of study and/or
standards which would qualify these
paralegals to deal with the general public as
such. While it may now be the opportune
time to establish these courses of study
and/or standards, the fact remains that at
present, these do not exist in the
Philippines. In the meantime, this Honorable

Court may decide to make measures to


protect the general public from being
exploited by those who may be dealing with
the general public in the guise of being
"paralegals" without being qualified to do
so.
In the same manner, the general public
should also be protected from the dangers
which may be brought about by advertising
of legal services. While it appears that
lawyers are prohibited under the present
Code of Professional Responsibility from
advertising, it appears in the instant case
that legal services are being advertised not
by lawyers but by an entity staffed by
"paralegals." Clearly, measures should be
taken to protect the general public from
falling prey to those who advertise legal
services without being qualified to offer
such services. 8
A perusal of the questioned advertisements
of Respondent, however, seems to give the
impression that information regarding
validity of marriages, divorce, annulment of
marriage, immigration, visa extensions,
declaration of absence, adoption and foreign
investment, which are in essence, legal
matters , will be given to them if they avail
of its services. The Respondent's name
The Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help
matters. It gives the impression again that
Respondent will or can cure the legal
problems brought to them. Assuming that
Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely by
paralegals, it also gives the misleading
impression that there are lawyers involved
in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors
in any medical clinic, when only "paralegals"
are involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc.
Respondent's allegations are further belied
by the very admissions of its President and
majority stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who
gave an insight on the structure and main
purpose of Respondent corporation in the
aforementioned "Starweek" article." 9
5. Women Lawyer's Association of the
Philippines:
Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are
clearly advertisements to solicit cases for
the purpose of gain which, as provided for
under the above cited law, (are) illegal and
against the Code of Professional
Responsibility of lawyers in this country.
Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in
that it is an advertisement to solicit cases,
but it is illegal in that in bold letters it
announces that the Legal Clinic, Inc., could
work out/cause the celebration of a secret
marriage which is not only illegal but

immoral in this country. While it is


advertised that one has to go to said agency
and pay P560 for a valid marriage it is
certainly fooling the public for valid
marriages in the Philippines are solemnized
only by officers authorized to do so under
the law. And to employ an agency for said
purpose of contracting marriage is not
necessary.
No amount of reasoning that in the USA,
Canada and other countries the trend is
towards allowing lawyers to advertise their
special skills to enable people to obtain from
qualified practitioners legal services for their
particular needs can justify the use of
advertisements such as are the subject
matter of the petition, for one (cannot)
justify an illegal act even by whatever merit
the illegal act may serve. The law has yet to
be amended so that such act could become
justifiable.
We submit further that these
advertisements that seem to project that
secret marriages and divorce are possible in
this country for a fee, when in fact it is not
so, are highly reprehensible.
It would encourage people to consult this
clinic about how they could go about having
a secret marriage here, when it cannot nor
should ever be attempted, and seek advice
on divorce, where in this country there is
none, except under the Code of Muslim
Personal Laws in the Philippines. It is also
against good morals and is deceitful
because it falsely represents to the public to
be able to do that which by our laws cannot
be done (and) by our Code of Morals should
not be done.
In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the
Supreme Court held that solicitation for
clients by an attorney by circulars of
advertisements, is unprofessional, and
offenses of this character justify permanent
elimination from the Bar. 10
6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados:
xxx xxx xxx
1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in
the practice of law, such as management
consultancy firms or travel agencies,
whether run by lawyers or not, perform the
services rendered by Respondent does not
necessarily lead to the conclusion that
Respondent is not unlawfully practicing law.
In the same vein, however, the fact that the
business of respondent (assuming it can be
engaged in independently of the practice of
law) involves knowledge of the law does not

necessarily make respondent guilty of


unlawful practice of law.
. . . . Of necessity, no one .
. . . acting as a consultant
can render effective
service unless he is
familiar with such statutes
and regulations. He must
be careful not to suggest a
course of conduct which
the law forbids. It
seems . . . .clear that (the
consultant's) knowledge of
the law, and his use of
that knowledge as a factor
in determining what
measures he shall
recommend, do not
constitute the practice of
law . . . . It is not only
presumed that all men
know the law, but it is a
fact that most men have
considerable acquaintance
with broad features of the
law . . . . Our knowledge of
the law accurate or
inaccurate moulds our
conduct not only when we
are acting for ourselves,
but when we are serving
others. Bankers, liquor
dealers and laymen
generally possess rather
precise knowledge of the
laws touching their
particular business or
profession. A good
example is the architect,
who must be familiar with
zoning, building and fire
prevention codes, factory
and tenement house
statutes, and who draws
plans and specification in
harmony with the law. This
is not practicing law.
But suppose the architect,
asked by his client to omit
a fire tower, replies that it
is required by the statute.
Or the industrial relations
expert cites, in support of
some measure that he
recommends, a decision of
the National Labor
Relations Board. Are they
practicing law? In my
opinion, they are not,
provided no separate fee
is charged for the legal
advice or information, and
the legal question is
subordinate and incidental

to a major non-legal
problem.
It is largely a matter of
degree and of custom.

by our schools cannot be


used by the graduates in
their business.

If it were usual for one


intending to erect a
building on his land to
engage a lawyer to advise
him and the architect in
respect to the building
code and the like, then an
architect who performed
this function would
probably be considered to
be trespassing on territory
reserved for licensed
attorneys. Likewise, if the
industrial relations field
had been pre-empted by
lawyers, or custom placed
a lawyer always at the
elbow of the lay personnel
man. But this is not the
case. The most important
body of the industrial
relations experts are the
officers and business
agents of the labor unions
and few of them are
lawyers. Among the larger
corporate employers, it
has been the practice for
some years to delegate
special responsibility in
employee matters to a
management group
chosen for their practical
knowledge and skill in
such matter, and without
regard to legal thinking or
lack of it. More recently,
consultants like the
defendants have the same
service that the larger
employers get from their
own specialized staff.

In determining whether a
man is practicing law, we
should consider his work
for any particular client or
customer, as a whole. I
can imagine defendant
being engaged primarily
to advise as to the law
defining his client's
obligations to his
employees, to guide his
client's obligations to his
employees, to guide his
client along the path
charted by law. This, of
course, would be the
practice of the law. But
such is not the fact in the
case before me.
Defendant's primarily
efforts are along economic
and psychological lines.
The law only provides the
frame within which he
must work, just as the
zoning code limits the kind
of building the limits the
kind of building the
architect may plan. The
incidental legal advice or
information defendant
may give, does not
transform his activities
into the practice of law.
Let me add that if, even
as a minor feature of his
work, he performed
services which are
customarily reserved to
members of the bar, he
would be practicing
law. For instance, if as part
of a welfare program, he
drew employees' wills.

The handling of industrial


relations is growing into a
recognized profession for
which appropriate courses
are offered by our leading
universities. The court
should be very cautious
about declaring [that] a
widespread, wellestablished method of
conducting business is
unlawful, or that the
considerable class of men
who customarily perform a
certain function have no
right to do so, or that the
technical education given

Another branch of
defendant's work is the
representations of the
employer in the
adjustment of grievances
and in collective
bargaining, with or
without a mediator. This is
not per se the practice of
law. Anyone may use an
agent for negotiations and
may select an agent
particularly skilled in the
subject under discussion,
and the person appointed
is free to accept the
employment whether or

not he is a member of the


bar. Here, however, there
may be an exception
where the business turns
on a question of law. Most
real estate sales are
negotiated by brokers who
are not lawyers. But if the
value of the land depends
on a disputed right-of-way
and the principal role of
the negotiator is to assess
the probable outcome of
the dispute and persuade
the opposite party to the
same opinion, then it may
be that only a lawyer can
accept the assignment. Or
if a controversy between
an employer and his men
grows from differing
interpretations of a
contract, or of a statute, it
is quite likely that
defendant should not
handle it. But I need not
reach a definite conclusion
here, since the situation is
not presented by the
proofs.
Defendant also appears to
represent the employer
before administrative
agencies of the federal
government, especially
before trial examiners of
the National Labor
Relations Board. An
agency of the federal
government, acting by
virtue of an authority
granted by the Congress,
may regulate the
representation of parties
before such agency. The
State of New Jersey is
without power to interfere
with such determination or
to forbid representation
before the agency by one
whom the agency admits.
The rules of the National
Labor Relations Board give
to a party the right to
appear in person, or by
counsel, or by other
representative. Rules and
Regulations, September
11th, 1946, S. 203.31.
'Counsel' here means a
licensed attorney, and
ther representative' one
not a lawyer. In this phase
of his work, defendant
may lawfully do whatever

the Labor Board allows,


even arguing questions
purely legal. (Auerbacher
v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800,
cited in Statsky,
Introduction to
Paralegalism [1974], at
pp. 154-156.).
1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a
person engaged in a lawful calling (which
may involve knowledge of the law) is not
engaged in the practice of law provided
that:
(a) The legal question is subordinate and
incidental to a major non-legal problem;.
(b) The services performed are not
customarily reserved to members of the
bar; .
(c) No separate fee is charged for the legal
advice or information.
All these must be considered in relation to
the work for any particular client as a whole.
1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer
and non-lawyer, the Code of Professional
Responsibility succintly states the rule of
conduct:
Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is engaged in
another profession or occupation
concurrently with the practice of law shall
make clear to his client whether he is acting
as a lawyer or in another capacity.
1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic
appears to render wedding services (See
Annex "A" Petition). Services on routine,
straightforward marriages, like securing a
marriage license, and making arrangements
with a priest or a judge, may not constitute
practice of law. However, if the problem is
as complicated as that described in "Rx for
Legal Problems" on the Sharon CunetaGabby Concepcion-Richard Gomez case,
then what may be involved is actually the
practice of law. If a non-lawyer, such as the
Legal Clinic, renders such services then it is
engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give
information on divorce, absence, annulment
of marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and
"B" Petition). Purely giving informational
materials may not constitute of law. The
business is similar to that of a bookstore
where the customer buys materials on the
subject and determines on the subject and
determines by himself what courses of
action to take.

It is not entirely improbable, however, that


aside from purely giving information, the
Legal Clinic's paralegals may apply the law
to the particular problem of the client, and
give legal advice. Such would constitute
unauthorized practice of law.
It cannot be claimed that
the publication of a legal
text which publication of a
legal text which purports
to say what the law is
amount to legal practice.
And the mere fact that the
principles or rules stated
in the text may be
accepted by a particular
reader as a solution to his
problem does not affect
this. . . . . Apparently it is
urged that the conjoining
of these two, that is, the
text and the forms, with
advice as to how the
forms should be filled out,
constitutes the unlawful
practice of law. But that is
the situation with many
approved and accepted
texts. Dacey's book is sold
to the public at
large. There is no personal
contact or relationship
with a particular
individual. Nor does there
exist that relation of
confidence and trust so
necessary to the status of
attorney and client. THIS
IS THE ESSENTIAL OF
LEGAL PRACTICE THE
REPRESENTATION AND
ADVISING OF A
PARTICULAR PERSON IN A
PARTICULAR
SITUATION. At most the
book assumes to offer
general advice on
common problems, and
does not purport to give
personal advice on a
specific problem peculiar
to a designated or readily
identified person. Similarly
the defendant's
publication does not
purport to give personal
advice on a specific
problem peculiar to a
designated or readily
identified person in a
particular situation in
their publication and sale
of the kits, such
publication and sale did
not constitutes the

unlawful practice of
law . . . . There being no
legal impediment under
the statute to the sale of
the kit, there was no
proper basis for the
injunction against
defendant maintaining an
office for the purpose of
selling to persons seeking
a divorce, separation,
annulment or separation
agreement any printed
material or writings
relating to matrimonial
law or the prohibition in
the memorandum of
modification of the
judgment against
defendant having an
interest in any publishing
house publishing his
manuscript on divorce and
against his having any
personal contact with any
prospective purchaser.
The record does fully
support, however, the
finding that for the change
of $75 or $100 for the kit,
the defendant gave legal
advice in the course of
personal contacts
concerning particular
problems which might
arise in the preparation
and presentation of the
purchaser's asserted
matrimonial cause of
action or pursuit of other
legal remedies and
assistance in the
preparation of necessary
documents (The injunction
therefore sought to) enjoin
conduct constituting the
practice of law,
particularly with reference
to the giving of advice and
counsel by the defendant
relating to specific
problems of particular
individuals in connection
with a divorce, separation,
annulment of separation
agreement sought and
should be affirmed. (State
v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D
270 [1973], cited in
Statsky, supra at p. 101.).
1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its
services are "strictly non-diagnostic, nonadvisory. "It is not controverted, however,
that if the services "involve giving legal
advice or counselling," such would

constitute practice of law (Comment, par.


6.2). It is in this light that FIDA submits that
a factual inquiry may be necessary for the
judicious disposition of this case.
xxx xxx xxx
2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically
objectionable in that it can give the
impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion)
that there is a secret marriage. With all the
solemnities, formalities and other requisites
of marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., Family
Code), no Philippine marriage can be secret.
2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically
objectionable. The second paragraph
thereof (which is not necessarily related to
the first paragraph) fails to state the
limitation that only "paralegal services?" or
"legal support services", and not legal
services, are available." 11
A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice
of law" becomes exigent for the proper determination of the
issues raised by the petition at bar. On this score, we note
that the clause "practice of law" has long been the subject of
judicial construction and interpretation. The courts have laid
down general principles and doctrines explaining the meaning
and scope of the term, some of which we now take into
account.
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which
requires the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge,
training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to
perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession.
Generally, to practice law is to give advice or render any kind
of service that involves legal knowledge or skill. 12
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in
court. It includes legal advice and counsel, and the
preparation of legal instruments and contract by which legal
rights are secured, although such matter may or may not be
pending in a court. 13
In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law
generally engages in three principal types of professional
activity: legal advice and instructions to clients to inform them
of their rights and obligations, preparation for clients of
documents requiring knowledge of legal principles not
possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients
before public tribunals which possess power and authority to
determine rights of life, liberty, and property according to law,
in order to assist in proper interpretation and enforcement of
law. 14
When a person participates in the a trial and advertises
himself as a lawyer, he is in the practice of law. 15 One who
confers with clients, advises them as to their legal rights and
then takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter to
look after the case in court, is also practicing law. 16 Giving
advice for compensation regarding the legal status and rights
of another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a
practice of law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to the

proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is,


to that extent, practicing law. 18
In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the
doctrines in several cases, we laid down the test to determine
whether certain acts constitute "practice of law," thus:
Black defines "practice of law" as:
The rendition of services requiring the
knowledge and the application of legal
principles and technique to serve the
interest of another with his consent. It is not
limited to appearing in court, or advising
and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but
embraces the preparation of pleadings, and
other papers incident to actions and special
proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation
of legal instruments of all kinds, and the
giving of all legal advice to clients. It
embraces all advice to clients and all
actions taken for them in matters connected
with the law.
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on
court.(Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio
St. 23, 193N. E. 650). A person is also considered to be in the
practice of law when he:
. . . . for valuable consideration engages in
the business of advising person, firms,
associations or corporations as to their right
under the law, or appears in a
representative capacity as an advocate in
proceedings, pending or prospective, before
any court, commissioner, referee, board,
body, committee, or commission constituted
by law or authorized to settle controversies
and there, in such representative capacity,
performs any act or acts for the purpose of
obtaining or defending the rights of their
clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one
who, in a representative capacity, engages
in the business of advising clients as to their
rights under the law, or while so engaged
performs any act or acts either in court or
outside of court for that purpose, is engaged
in the practice of law. (State ex. rel.
Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S. W.
2d 895, 340 Mo. 852).
This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association
v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176-177),stated:
The practice of law is not limited to the
conduct of cases or litigation in court; it
embraces the preparation of pleadings and
other papers incident to actions and special
proceedings, the management of such
actions and proceedings on behalf of clients
before judges and courts, and in addition,
conveying. In general, all advice to clients,
and all action taken for them in matters
connected with the law incorporation

services, assessment and condemnation


services contemplating an appearance
before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a
mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim
in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings,
and conducting proceedings in attachment,
and in matters or estate and guardianship
have been held to constitute law practice,
as do the preparation and drafting of legal
instruments, where the work done involves
the determination by the trained legal mind
of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5
Am. Jr. p. 262, 263).
Practice of law under modern conditions
consists in no small part of work performed
outside of any court and having no
immediate relation to proceedings in court.
It embraces conveyancing, the giving of
legal advice on a large variety of subjects
and the preparation and execution of legal
instruments covering an extensive field of
business and trust relations and other
affairs. Although these transactions may
have no direct connection with court
proceedings, they are always subject to
become involved in litigation. They require
in many aspects a high degree of legal skill,
a wide experience with men and affairs, and
great capacity for adaptation to difficult and
complex situations. These customary
functions of an attorney or counselor at law
bear an intimate relation to the
administration of justice by the courts. No
valid distinction, so far as concerns the
question set forth in the order, can be drawn
between that part of the work of the lawyer
which involves appearance in court and that
part which involves advice and drafting of
instruments in his office. It is of importance
to the welfare of the public that these
manifold customary functions be performed
by persons possessed of adequate learning
and skill, of sound moral character, and
acting at all times under the heavy trust
obligations to clients which rests upon all
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules o
Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], pp. 665-666, citing
In Re Opinion of the Justices [Mass], 194 N.
E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v.
Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A. 139,
144).
The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of
activities in and out of court. Applying the aforementioned
criteria to the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive
findings and observations of the aforestated bar associations
that the activities of respondent, as advertised, constitute
"practice of law."
The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal
support services can neither be seriously considered nor
sustained. Said proposition is belied by respondent's own
description of the services it has been offering, to wit:

Legal support services basically consists of


giving ready information by trained
paralegals to laymen and lawyers, which are
strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory,
through the extensive use of computers and
modern information technology in the
gathering, processing, storage, transmission
and reproduction of information and
communication, such as computerized legal
research; encoding and reproduction of
documents and pleadings prepared by
laymen or lawyers; document search;
evidence gathering; locating parties or
witnesses to a case; fact finding
investigations; and assistance to laymen in
need of basic institutional services from
government or non-government agencies,
like birth, marriage, property, or business
registrations; educational or employment
records or certifications, obtaining
documentation like clearances, passports,
local or foreign visas; giving information
about laws of other countries that they may
find useful, like foreign divorce, marriage or
adoption laws that they can avail of
preparatory to emigration to the foreign
country, and other matters that do not
involve representation of clients in court;
designing and installing computer systems,
programs, or software for the efficient
management of law offices, corporate legal
departments, courts and other entities
engaged in dispensing or administering
legal services. 20
While some of the services being offered by respondent
corporation merely involve mechanical and technical
knowhow, such as the installation of computer systems and
programs for the efficient management of law offices, or the
computerization of research aids and materials, these will not
suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.
What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives
out legal information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention
that such function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more
apparent than real. In providing information, for example,
about foreign laws on marriage, divorce and adoption, it
strains the credulity of this Court that all the respondent
corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy
thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a
bookstore. With its attorneys and so called paralegals, it will
necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies of the
law and advise him or her on the proper course of action to be
taken as may be provided for by said law. That is what its
advertisements represent and for the which services it will
consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely
within the jurisprudential definition of "practice of law." Such a
conclusion will not be altered by the fact that respondent
corporation does not represent clients in court since law
practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited
merely giving legal advice, contract drafting and so forth.
The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article
published in the January 13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The
Sunday Magazine of the Philippines Star, entitled "Rx for Legal
Problems," where an insight into the structure, main purpose

and operations of respondent corporation was given by its


own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales:
This is the kind of business that is
transacted everyday at The Legal Clinic,
with offices on the seventh floor of the
Victoria Building along U. N. Avenue in
Manila. No matter what the client's problem,
and even if it is as complicated as the
Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty.
Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who, like
doctors are "specialists" in various fields can
take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has
specialists in taxation and criminal law,
medico-legal problems, labor, litigation, and
family law. These specialist are backed up
by a battery of paralegals, counsellors and
attorneys.
Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in
1984. Inspired by the trend in the medical
field toward specialization, it caters to
clients who cannot afford the services of the
big law firms.
The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in
clients. "when they come, we start by
analyzing the problem. That's what doctors
do also. They ask you how you contracted
what's bothering you, they take your
temperature, they observe you for the
symptoms and so on. That's how we
operate, too. And once the problem has
been categorized, then it's referred to one of
our specialists.
There are cases which do not, in medical
terms, require surgery or follow-up
treatment. These The Legal Clinic disposes
of in a matter of minutes. "Things like
preparing a simple deed of sale or an
affidavit of loss can be taken care of by our
staff or, if this were a hospital the residents
or the interns. We can take care of these
matters on a while you wait basis. Again,
kung baga sa hospital, out-patient, hindi
kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a
common cold or diarrhea," explains Atty.
Nogales.
Those cases which requires more extensive
"treatment" are dealt with accordingly. "If
you had a rich relative who died and named
you her sole heir, and you stand to inherit
millions of pesos of property, we would refer
you to a specialist in taxation. There would
be real estate taxes and arrears which
would need to be put in order, and your
relative is even taxed by the state for the
right to transfer her property, and only a
specialist in taxation would be properly
trained to deal with the problem. Now, if
there were other heirs contesting your rich
relatives will, then you would need a
litigator, who knows how to arrange the

problem for presentation in court, and


gather evidence to support the case. 21
That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out
its services is not controlling. What is important is that it is
engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the nature of the
services it renders which thereby brings it within the ambit of
the statutory prohibitions against the advertisements which it
has caused to be published and are now assailed in this
proceeding.
Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P.
WILOCI, said reported facts sufficiently establish that the main
purpose of respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts
for 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. 22
It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being
offered by private respondent which constitute practice of law
cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly
admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as
such in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Court,
and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice
law. 23
Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to
those individuals found duly qualified in education and
character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyers is an
individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails
to maintain proper standards of moral and professional
conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the
client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of
those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the
disciplinary control of the court. 24
The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction
wherefrom respondent would wish to draw support for his
thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the practice of law
is limited to those who meet the requirements for, and have
been admitted to, the bar, and various statutes or rules
specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not a lawful
business except for members of the bar who have complied
with all the conditions required by statute and the rules of
court. Only those persons are allowed to practice law who, by
reason of attainments previously acquired through education
and study, have been recognized by the courts as possessing
profound knowledge of legal science entitling them to advise,
counsel with, protect, or defend the rights claims, or liabilities
of their clients, with respect to the construction,
interpretation, operation and effect of law. 26 The justification
for excluding from the practice of law those not admitted to
the bar is found, not in the protection of the bar from
competition, but in the protection of the public from being
advised and represented in legal matters by incompetent and
unreliable persons over whom the judicial department can
exercise little control. 27
We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's
position that the concept in the United States of paralegals as
an occupation separate from the law profession be adopted in
this jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, respondent

cannot but be aware that this should first be a matter for


judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral
adoption as it has done.
Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As
admitted by respondent, there are schools and universities
there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal education,
while there are none in the Philippines.28 As the concept of the
"paralegals" or "legal assistant" evolved in the United States,
standards and guidelines also evolved to protect the general
public. One of the major standards or guidelines was
developed by the American Bar Association which set up
Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education
Programs (1973). Legislation has even been proposed to
certify legal assistants. There are also associations of
paralegals in the United States with their own code of
professional ethics, such as the National Association of Legal
Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association.29
In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and
limited acceptance of what may be considered as paralegal
service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not duly
licensed to practice law are or have been allowed limited
representation in behalf of another or to render legal services,
but such allowable services are limited in scope and extent by
the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30
Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy
that, in the absence of constitutional or statutory authority, a
person who has not been admitted as an attorney cannot
practice law for the proper administration of justice cannot be
hindered by the unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized and
unskilled person into the practice of law. 31 That policy should
continue to be one of encouraging persons who are unsure of
their legal rights and remedies to seek legal assistance only
from persons licensed to practice law in the state. 32
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. 33 He is not supposed to use
or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading,
deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or
claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor shall
he pay or give something of value to representatives of the
mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to
attract legal business. 35 Prior to the adoption of the code of
Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics
had also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect
advertisements for professional employment, such as
furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his
photograph to be published in connection with causes in
which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the
manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest
involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other
like self-laudation. 36
The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's
advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without
violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or
skill as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his
goods. 37 The prescription against advertising of legal services
or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental
postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession.

Thus, in the case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs.


Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar to those of
respondent which are involved in the present
proceeding,39 was held to constitute improper advertising or
solicitation.
The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:
It is undeniable that the advertisement in
question was a flagrant violation by the
respondent of the ethics of his profession, it
being a brazen solicitation of business from
the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly
provides among other things that "the
practice of soliciting cases at law for the
purpose of gain, either personally or thru
paid agents or brokers, constitutes
malpractice." It is highly unethical for an
attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a
merchant advertises his wares. Law is a
profession and not a trade. The lawyer
degrades himself and his profession who
stoops to and adopts the practices of
mercantilism by advertising his services or
offering them to the public. As a member of
the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with
mercenary activities as the money-changers
of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The
most worthy and effective advertisement
possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . . is
the establishment of a well-merited
reputation for professional capacity and
fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but
must be the outcome of character and
conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.).
We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that 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. 40
Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are
prohibited. The canons of the profession enumerate
exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation and
define the extent to which they may be undertaken. The
exceptions are of two broad categories, namely, those which
are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied
from the restrictions. 41
The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law
lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct
imposed by the canons, of brief biographical and informative
data. "Such data must not be misleading and may include
only a statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his
professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable
addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of birth
and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of
graduation, degrees and other educational distinction; public

or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal


teaching positions; membership and offices in bar
associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific
societies and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other
reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references;
and, with their written consent, the names of clients regularly
represented." 42
The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily
for that purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of
a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is
published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a
lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and
informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or
society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be
published in a law list the conduct, management or contents
of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public
or the bar, or to lower the dignity or standing of the
profession. 43
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also
permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his
name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with,
address, telephone number and special branch of law
practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the
opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership,
associates, firm name or office address, being for the
convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may
likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not
under a designation of special branch of law. 44
Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of
the advertisements for which respondent is being taken to
task, which even includes a quotation of the fees charged by
said respondent corporation for services rendered, we find
and so hold that the same definitely do not and conclusively
cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned exceptions.
The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of
Arizona, 45 which is repeatedly invoked and constitutes the
justification relied upon by respondent, is obviously not
applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is the fact that the
disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows a
lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against
advertisements by lawyers, to publish a statement of legal
fees for an initial consultation or the availability upon request
of a written schedule of fees or an estimate of the fee to be
charged for the specific services. No such exception is
provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former
Canons of Professional Ethics or the present Code of
Professional Responsibility. Besides, even the disciplinary rule
in the Bates case contains a proviso that the exceptions
stated therein are "not applicable in any state unless and until
it is implemented by such authority in that state." 46 This goes
to show that an exception to the general rule, such as that
being invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and
when the canons expressly provide for such an exception.
Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as in the case at bar.
It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American
Bar Association after the decision in Bates, on the attitude of
the public about lawyers after viewing television commercials,
it was found that public opinion dropped significantly 47 with
respect to these characteristics of lawyers:

Trustworthy from 71% to


14%
Professional from 71% to
14%
Honest from 65% to 14%
Dignified from 45% to
14%
Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of
our legal and judicial systems, to allow the publication of
advertisements of the kind used by respondent would only
serve to aggravate what is already a deteriorating public
opinion of the legal profession whose integrity has
consistently been under attack lately by media and the
community in general. At this point in time, it is of utmost
importance in the face of such negative, even if unfair,
criticisms at times, to adopt and maintain that level of
professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert
all efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to the
legal profession.
In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the
lawyer, subject to disciplinary action, to advertise his services
except in allowable instances 48 or to aid a layman in the
unauthorized practice of law. 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio
P. Nogales, who is the prime incorporator, major stockholder
and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is a member of the
Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a warning that
a repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved in
this proceeding will be dealt with more severely.
While we deem it necessary that the question as to the
legality or illegality of the purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic,
Inc. was created should be passed upon and determined, we
are constrained to refrain from lapsing into an obiter on that
aspect since it is clearly not within the adjudicative
parameters of the present proceeding which is merely
administrative in nature. It is, of course, imperative that this
matter be promptly determined, albeit in a different
proceeding and forum, since, under the present state of our
law and jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be organized for
or engage in the practice of law in this country. This
interdiction, just like the rule against unethical advertising,
cannot be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals
supposedly rendering the alleged support services.
The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by
respondent is the concern and province of the Solicitor
General who can institute the corresponding quo
warranto action, 50 after due ascertainment of the factual
background and basis for the grant of respondent's corporate
charter, in light of the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off
from the instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General
for such action as may be necessary under the circumstances.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN
herein respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., from issuing or
causing the publication or dissemination of any advertisement
in any form which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose
as Annexes "A" and "B" of this petition, and from conducting,
directly or indirectly, any activity, operation or transaction
proscribed by law or the Code of Professional Ethics as
indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar

Confidant and the Office of the Solicitor General for


appropriate action in accordance herewith.
Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino,
Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ.,
concur

the trial of the case, he would be considered on official leave


of absence, and that he would not receive any payment for his
services. The appearance of City Attorney Fule as private
prosecutor was questioned by the counsel for the accused,
invoking the case of Aquino, et al. vs. Blanco, et al.,
L-1532, Nov. 28, 1947, wherein it was ruled that "when an
attorney had been appointed to the position of Assistant
Provincial Fiscal or City Fiscal and therein qualified, by
operation of law, he ceased to engage in private law practice."
Counsel then argued that the JP Court in entertaining the
appearance of City Attorney Fule in the case is a violation of
the above ruling. On December 17, 1960 the JP issued an
order sustaining the legality of the appearance of City
Attorney Fule.
Under date of January 4, 1961, counsel for the accused
presented a "Motion to Inhibit Fiscal Fule from Acting as
Private Prosecutor in this Case," this time invoking Section 32,
Rule 27, now Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court, which
bars certain attorneys from practicing. Counsel claims that
City Attorney Fule falls under this limitation. The JP Court ruled
on the motion by upholding the right of Fule to appear and
further stating that he (Fule) was not actually enagaged in
private law practice. This Order was appealed to the CFI of
Laguna, presided by the Hon. Hilarion U. Jarencio, which
rendered judgment on December 20, 1961, the pertinent
portions of which read:
The present case is one for malicious mischief. There
being no reservation by the offended party of the
civil liability, the civil action was deemed impliedly
instituted with the criminal action. The offended
party had, therefore, the right to intervene in the
case and be represented by a legal counsel because
of her interest in the civil liability of the accused.

G.R. No. L-19450

May 27, 1965

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
SIMPLICIO VILLANUEVA, defendant-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Magno T. Buese for defendant-appellant.
PAREDES, J.:
On September 4, 1959, the Chief of Police of Alaminos,
Laguna, charged Simplicio Villanueva with the Crime of
Malicious Mischief before the Justice of the Peace Court of said
municipality. Said accused was represented by counsel de
officio but later on replaced by counsel de parte. The
complainant in the same case was represented by City
Attorney Ariston Fule of San Pablo City, having entered his
appearance as private prosecutor, after securing the
permission of the Secretary of Justice. The condition of his
appearance as such, was that every time he would appear at

Sec. 31, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court provides that


in the court of a justice of the peace a party may
conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an
agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or
with the aid of an attorney. Assistant City Attorney
Fule appeared in the Justice of the Peace Court as an
agent or friend of the offended party. It does not
appear that he was being paid for his services or that
his appearance was in a professional capacity. As
Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo he had no
control or intervention whatsoever in the prosecution
of crimes committed in the municipality of Alaminos,
Laguna, because the prosecution of criminal cases
coming from Alaminos are handled by the Office of
the Provincial Fiscal and not by the City Attornev of
San Pablo. There could be no possible conflict in the
duties of Assistant City Attorney Fule as Assistant
City Attorney of San Pablo and as private prosecutor
in this criminal case. On the other hand, as already
pointed out, the offended party in this criminal case
had a right to be represented by an agent or a friend
to protect her rights in the civil action which was
impliedly instituted together with the criminal action.
In view of the foregoing, this Court holds that Asst.
City Attorney Ariston D. Fule may appear before the
Justice of the Peace Court of Alaminos, Laguna as
private prosecutor in this criminal case as an agent
or a friend of the offended party.

WHEREFORE, the appeal from the order of the Justice


of the Peace Court of Alaminos, Laguna, allowing the
apprearance of Ariston D. Fule as private prosecutor
is dismissed, without costs.

OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. MISAEL M. LADAGA, Branch Clerk of Court, Regional
Trial Court, Branch 133, Makati City, respondent.

The above decision is the subject of the instant proceeding.

KAPUNAN, J.:

The appeal should be dismissed, for patently being without


merits.1wph1.t

In a Letter, dated August 31, 1998, respondent Atty. Misael M.


Ladaga, Branch Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of
Makati, Branch 133, requested the Court Administrator, Justice
Alfredo L. Benipayo, for authority to appear as pro
bono counsel of his cousin, Narcisa Naldoza Ladaga, in
Criminal Case No. 84885, entitled "People vs. Narcisa Naldoza
Ladaga" for Falsification of Public Document pending before
the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 40. 1 While
respondent's letter-request was pending action, Lisa Payoyo
Andres, the private complainant in Criminal Case No. 84885,
sent a letter to the Court Administrator, dated September 2,
1998, requesting for a certification with regard to
respondent's authority to appear as counsel for the accused in
the said criminal case.2 On September 7, 1998, the Office of
the Court Administrator referred the matter to respondent for
comment.3

Aside from the considerations advanced by the learned trial


judge, heretofore reproduced, and which we consider
plausible, the fallacy of the theory of defense counsel lies in
his confused interpretation of Section 32 of Rule 127 (now
Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules), which provides that "no
judge or other official or employee of the superior courts or of
the office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private
practice as a member of the bar or give professional advice to
clients." He claims that City Attorney Fule, in appearing as
private prosecutor in the case was engaging in private
practice. We believe that the isolated appearance of City
Attorney Fule did not constitute private practice within the
meaning and contemplation of the Rules. Practice is more
than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or
customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In
other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs. Cotner,
127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to
fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as
customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public,
as customarily and demanding payment for such services
(State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644, 647). The
appearance as counsel on one occasion is not conclusive as
determinative of engagement in the private practice of law.
The following observation of the Solicitor General is
noteworthy:
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies
that one must have presented himself to be in the
active and continued practice of the legal profession
and that his professional services are available to the
public for a compensation, as a source of his
livelihood or in consideration of his said services.
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City Attorney
Fule had been given permission by his immediate superior,
the Secretary of Justice, to represent the complainant in the
case at bar, who is a relative.
CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision
appealed from should be, as it is hereby affirmed, in all
respects, with costs against appellant..

In his Comment,4 dated September 14, 1998, respondent


admitted that he had appeared in Criminal Case No. 84885
without prior authorization. He reasoned out that the factual
circumstances surrounding the criminal case compelled him to
handle the defense of his cousin who did not have enough
resources to hire the services of a counsel de parte; while, on
the other hand, private complainant was a member of a
powerful family who was out to get even with his cousin.
Furthermore, he rationalized that his appearance in the
criminal case did not prejudice his office nor the interest of
the public since he did not take advantage of his position. In
any case, his appearances in court were covered by leave
applications approved by the presiding judge.1wphi1.nt
On December 8, 1998, the Court issued a Resolution denying
respondent's request for authorization to appear as counsel
and directing the Office of the Court Administrator to file
formal charges against him for appearing in court without the
required authorization from the Court.5 On January 25, 1999,
the Court Administrator filed the instant administrative
complaint against respondent for violating Sec. 7(b)(2) of
Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the "Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees," which provides:
Sec. 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. In addition
to acts and omissions of public officials and
employees now prescribed in the Constitution and
existing laws, the following shall constitute prohibited
acts and transactions of any public official and
employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
x

A.M. No. P-99-1287

January 26, 2001

(b) Outside employment and other activities


related thereto. Public officials and
employees during their incumbency shall
not:
x

(2) Engage in the private practice


of their profession unless
authorized by the Constitution or
law, Provided, that such practice
will not conflict or tend to conflict
with their official functions;
In our Resolution, dated February 9, 1999, we required
respondent to comment on the administrative complaint.
In his Comment, respondent explained that he and Ms.
Ladaga are "close blood cousins" who belong to a "powerless
family" from the impoverished town of Bacauag, Surigao del
Norte. From childhood until he finished his law degree, Ms.
Ladaga had always supported and guided him while he looked
up to her as a mentor and an adviser. Because of their close
relationship, Ms. Ladaga sought respondent's help and advice
when she was charged in Criminal Case No. 84885 for
falsification by the private complainant, Lisa Payoyo Andres,
whose only purpose in filing the said criminal case was to
"seek vengeance" on her cousin. He explained that his
cousin's discord with Ms. Andres started when the latter's
husband, SPO4 Pedro Andres, left the conjugal home to
cohabit with Ms. Ladaga. During the course of their illicit
affair, SPO4 Andres and Ms. Ladaga begot three (3) children.
The birth certificate of their eldest child is the subject of the
falsification charge against Ms. Ladaga. Respondent stated
that since he is the only lawyer in their family, he felt it to be
his duty to accept Ms. Ladaga's plea to be her counsel since
she not have enough funds to pay for the services of a lawyer.
Respondent also pointed out that in his seven (7) years of
untainted government service, initially with the Commission
on Human Rights and now with the judiciary, he had
performed his duties with honesty and integrity and that it
was only in this particular case that he had been
administratively charged for extending a helping hand to a
close relative by giving a free legal assistance for
"humanitarian purpose." He never took advantage of his
position as branch clerk of court since the questioned
appearances were made in the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Quezon City and not in Makati where he is holding office. He
stressed that during the hearings of the criminal case, he was
on leave as shown by his approved leave applications
attached to his comment.
In our Resolution, dated June 22, 1999, we noted respondent's
comment and referred the administrative matter to the
Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Judge
Josefina Guevarra-Salonga, for investigation, report and
recommendation.
In her Report, dated September 29, 1999, Judge Salonga
made the following findings and recommendation:
There is no question that Atty. Misael Ladaga
appeared as counsel for and in behalf of his cousin,
Narcisa Naldoza Ladaga, an accused in Criminal Case
No. 84-885 for "Falsification of Public Documents"
before the METC of Quezon City. It is also denied that
the appearance of said respondent in said case was
without the previous permission of the Court.
An examination of the records shows that during the
occasions that the respondent appeared as such
counsel before the METC of Quezon City, he was on

official leave of absence. Moreover, his Presiding


Judge, Judge Napoleon Inoturan was aware of the
case he was handling. That the respondent appeared
as pro bono counsel likewise cannot be denied. His
cousin-client Narcisa Ladaga herself positively
declared that the respondent did not receive a single
centavo from her. Helpless as she was and
respondent being the only lawyer in the family, he
agreed to represent her out of his compassion and
high regard for her.
It may not be amiss to point out, this is the first time
that respondent ever handled a case for a member of
his family who is like a big sister to him. He appeared
for free and for the purpose of settling the case
amicably. Furthermore, his Presiding Judge was aware
of his appearance as counsel for his cousin. On top of
this, during all the years that he has been in
government service, he has maintained his integrity
and independence.
RECOMMENDATION
In the light of the foregoing, it appearing that the
respondent appeared as counsel for his cousin
without first securing permission from the Court, and
considering that this is his first time to do it coupled
with the fact that said appearance was not for a fee
and was with the knowledge of his Presiding Judge, it
is hereby respectfully recommended that he be
REPRIMANDED with a stern warning that any
repetition of such act would be dealt with more
severely.6
We agree with the recommendation of the
investigating judge.
Respondent is charged under Sec. 7(b)(2) of the Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees which prohibits civil servants from engaging in the
private practice of their profession. A similar prohibition is
found under Sec. 35, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court
which disallows certain attorneys from engaging in the private
practice of their profession. The said section reads:
SEC. 35. Certain attorneys not to practice. No judge
or other official or employee of the superior courts or
of the Office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in
private practice as a member of the bar or give
professional advise to clients.
However, it should be clarified that "private practice" of a
profession, specifically the law profession in this case, which is
prohibited, does not pertain to an isolated court appearance;
rather, it contemplates a succession of acts of the same
nature habitually or customarily holding one's self to the
public as a lawyer.
In the case of People vs. Villanueva,7 we explained the
meaning of the term "private practice" prohibited by the said
section, to wit:
We believe that the isolated appearance of City
Attorney Fule did not constitute private practice,

within the meaning and contemplation of the Rules.


Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it
consists in frequent or customary action, a
succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it
is frequent habitual exercise (State vs. Cotner, 127,
p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, N.S. 768). Practice of law
to fall within the prohibition of statute has been
interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's
self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding
payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S. E.
522, 98 N. C. 644, 647). The appearance as counsel
on one occasion, is not conclusive as determinative
of engagement in the private practice of law. The
following observation of the Solicitor General is
noteworthy:

Respondent entered his appearance and attended court


proceedings on numerous occasions, i.e., May 4-15, 1998,
June 18, 1998, July 13, 1998 and August 5, 1998, as borne out
by his own admission. It is true that he filed leave applications
corresponding to the dates he appeared in court. However, he
failed to obtain a prior permission from the head of the
Department. The presiding judge of the court to which
respondent is assigned is not the head of the Department
contemplated by law.1wphi1.nt
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty.
Misael M. Ladaga is hereby REPRIMANDED with a stern
warning that any repetition of such act would be dealt with
more severely.

"Essentially, the word private practice of law


implies that one must have presented
himself to be in the active and continued
practice of the legal profession and that his
professional services are available to the
public for a compensation, as a source of his
livelihood or in consideration of his said
services."
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City
Attorney Fule had been given permission by his
immediate superior, the Secretary of Justice, to
represent the complainant in the case at bar, who is
a relative.8
Based on the foregoing, it is evident that the isolated
instances when respondent appeared as pro bono counsel of
his cousin in Criminal Case No. 84885 does not constitute the
"private practice" of the law profession contemplated by law.
Nonetheless, while respondent's isolated court appearances
did not amount to a private practice of law, he failed to obtain
a written permission therefor from the head of the
Department, which is this Court as required by Section 12,
Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules, thus:

A.C. No. 6705

March 31, 2006

RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case

Sec 12. No officer or employee shall engage


directly in any private business, vocation,
or professionor be connected with any commercial,
credit, agricultural, or industrial undertaking without
a written permission from the head of the
Department: Provided, That this prohibition will be
absolute in the case of those officers and employees
whose duties and responsibilities require that their
entire time be at the disposal of the
Government; Provided, further, That if an employee
is granted permission to engage in outside activities,
time so devoted outside of office hours should be
fixed by the agency to the end that it will not impair
in any way the efficiency of the officer or
employee: And provided, finally, That no permission
is necessary in the case of investments, made by an
officer or employee, which do not involve real or
apparent conflict between his private interests and
public duties, or in any way influence him in the
discharge of his duties, and he shall not take part in
the management of the enterprise or become an
officer of the board of directors.9

This is a disbarment complaint against Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio


for violating Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and for defying the prohibition against private
practice of law while working as government prosecutor.
The Facts
Ruthie Lim-Santiago ("complainant") is the daughter of
Alfonso Lim and Special Administratrix of his estate. 1Alfonso
Lim is a stockholder and the former President of Taggat
Industries, Inc. 2
Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") was the former
Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat Industries,
Inc. 3 until his appointment as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
of Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992. 4
Taggat Industries, Inc. ("Taggat") is a domestic corporation
engaged in the operation of timber concessions from the
government. The Presidential Commission on Good

Government sequestered it sometime in 1986,


operations ceased in 1997. 6

and its

Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat ("Taggat


employees") filed a criminal complaint entitled "Jesus Tagorda,
Jr. et al. v. Ruthie Lim-Santiago," docketed as I.S. No. 97-240
("criminal complaint"). 7 Taggat employees alleged that
complainant, who took over the management and control of
Taggat after the death of her father, withheld payment of their
salaries and wages without valid cause from 1 April 1996 to
15 July 1997. 8
Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned
to conduct the preliminary investigation. 9 He resolved the
criminal complaint by recommending the filing of 651
Informations 10 for violation of Article 288 11 in relation to
Article 116 12 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. 13
Complainant now charges respondent with the following
violations:
1. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Complainant contends that respondent is guilty of
representing conflicting interests. Respondent, being the
former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat,
knew the operations of Taggat very well. Respondent should
have inhibited himself from hearing, investigating and
deciding the case filed by Taggat employees. 14Furthermore,
complainant claims that respondent instigated the filing of the
cases and even harassed and threatened Taggat employees to
accede and sign an affidavit to support the complaint. 15
2. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a
government prosecutor
Complainant also contends that respondent is guilty of
engaging in the private practice of law while working as a
government prosecutor. Complainant presented evidence to
prove that respondent received P10,000 as retainers fee for
the months of January and February 1995, 16 another P10,000
for the months of April and May 1995, 17 and P5,000 for the
month of April 1996. 18
Complainant seeks the disbarment of respondent for violating
Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and for
defying the prohibition against private practice of law while
working as government prosecutor.
Respondent refutes complainants allegations and counters
that complainant was merely aggrieved by the resolution of
the criminal complaint which was adverse and contrary to her
expectation. 19
Respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed,
respondent had resigned from Taggat for more than five
years. 20 Respondent asserts that he no longer owed his
undivided loyalty to Taggat. 21 Respondent argues that it was
his sworn duty to conduct the necessary preliminary
investigation. 22 Respondent contends that complainant failed
to establish lack of impartiality when he performed his
duty. 23 Respondent points out that complainant did not file a
motion to inhibit respondent from hearing the criminal

complaint 24 but instead complainant voluntarily executed and


filed her counter-affidavit without mental reservation. 25
Respondent states that complainants reason in not filing a
motion to inhibit was her impression that respondent would
exonerate her from the charges filed as gleaned from
complainants statement during the hearing conducted on 12
February 1999:
xxx
Q. (Atty. Dabu). What do you mean you didnt think he would
do it, Madam Witness?
A. Because he is supposed to be my fathers friend and he
was working with my Dad and he was supposed to be trusted
by my father. And he came to me and told me he gonna help
me. x x x. 26
Respondent also asserts that no conflicting interests exist
because he was not representing Taggat employees or
complainant. Respondent claims he was merely performing
his official duty as Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor. 27Respondent argues that complainant failed to
establish that respondents act was tainted with personal
interest, malice and bad faith. 28
Respondent denies complainants allegations that he
instigated the filing of the cases, threatened and harassed
Taggat employees. Respondent claims that this accusation is
bereft of proof because complainant failed to mention the
names of the employees or present them for crossexamination. 29
Respondent does not dispute his receipt, after his
appointment as government prosecutor, of retainer fees from
complainant but claims that it
was only on a case-to-case basis and it ceased in
1996. 30 Respondent contends that the fees were paid for his
consultancy services and not for representation. Respondent
submits that consultation is not the same as representation
and that rendering consultancy services is not
prohibited. 31 Respondent, in his Reply-Memorandum, states:
x x x [I]f ever Taggat paid him certain amounts, these were
paid voluntarily by Taggat without the respondents asking,
intended as token consultancy fees on a case-to-case basis
and not as or for retainer fees. These payments do not at all
show or translate as a specie of conflict of interest.
Moreover, these consultations had no relation to, or
connection with, the above-mentioned labor complaints filed
by former Taggat employees. 32
Respondent insists that complainants evidence failed to
prove that when the criminal complaint was filed with the
Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Cagayan, respondent was
still the retained counsel or legal consultant. 33
While this disbarment case was pending, the Resolution and
Order issued by respondent to file 651 Informations against
complainant was reversed and set aside by Regional State

Prosecutor of Cagayan Rodolfo B. Cadelina last 4 January


1999. 34 Hence, the criminal complaint was dismissed. 35
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Investigating
Commissioner Ma. Carmina M. Alejandro-Abbas ("IBP
Commissioner Abbas") heard the case 36 and allowed the
parties to submit their respective memoranda. 37 Due to IBP
Commissioner Abbas resignation, the case was reassigned to
Commissioner Dennis A.B. Funa ("IBP Commissioner Funa"). 38
After the parties filed their memoranda and motion to resolve
the case, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No.
XVI-2004-479 ("IBP Resolution") dated 4 November 2004
adopting with modification 39 IBP Commissioner Funas Report
and Recommendation ("Report") finding respondent guilty of
conflict of interests, failure to safeguard a former clients
interest, and violating the prohibition against the private
practice of law while being a government prosecutor. The IBP
Board of Governors recommended the imposition of a penalty
of three years suspension from the practice of law. The Report
reads:
Now the issue here is whether being a former lawyer of
Taggat conflicts with his role as Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor in deciding I.S. No. 97-240. A determination of this
issue will require the test of whether the matter in I.S. No. 97240 will conflict with his former position of Personnel Manager
and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for "Violation of Labor Code"
(see Resolution of the Provincial Prosecutors Office, Annex "B"
of Complaint). Herein Complainant, Ruthie Lim-Santiago, was
being accused as having the "management and control" of
Taggat (p. 2, Resolution of the Prov. Pros. Office, supra).

Perhaps it would have been different had I.S. No. 97-240 not
been labor-related, or if Respondent had not been a Personnel
Manager concurrently as Legal Counsel. But as it is, I.S. No.
97-240 is labor-related and Respondent was a former
Personnel Manager of Taggat.
xxxx
While Respondent ceased his relations with Taggat in 1992
and the unpaid salaries being sought in I.S. No. 97-240 were
of the years 1996 and 1997, the employees and management
involved are the very personalities he dealt with as
Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
Respondent dealt with these persons in his fiduciary relations
with Taggat. Moreover, he was an employee of the corporation
and part of its management.
xxxx
As to the propriety of receiving "Retainer Fees" or
"consultancy fees" from herein Complainant while being an
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, and for rendering legal
consultancy work while being an Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor, this matter had long been settled. Government
prosecutors are prohibited to engage in the private
practice of law (see Legal and Judicial Ethics, Ernesto
Pineda, 1994 ed., p. 20; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA
109; Aquino v. Blanco 70 Phil. 647). The act of being a legal
consultant is a practice of law. To engage in the practice of law
is to do any of those acts that are characteristic of the legal
profession (In re: David, 93 Phil. 461). It covers any activity, in
or out of court, which required the application of law, legal
principles, practice or procedures and calls for legal
knowledge, training and experience (PLA v. Agrava, 105 Phil.
173; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 111; Cayetano v. Monsod,
201 SCRA 210).

Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of


Taggat, herein Respondent undoubtedly handled the
personnel and labor concerns of Taggat. Respondent,
undoubtedly dealt with and related with the employees of
Taggat. Therefore, Respondent undoubtedly dealt with and
related with complainants in I.S. No. 97-240. The issues,
therefore, in I.S. No. 97-240, are very much familiar with
Respondent. While the issues of unpaid salaries pertain to the
periods 1996-1997, the mechanics and personalities in that
case are very much familiar with Respondent.

Respondent clearly violated this prohibition.

A lawyer owes something to a former client. Herein


Respondent owes to Taggat, a former client, the duty to
"maintain inviolate the clients confidence or to refrain from
doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter
in which he previously represented him" (Natam v. Capule, 91
Phil. 640; p. 231, Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 4th ed.)

The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court


as provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B 41 of the Rules of
Court.

Respondent argues that as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, he


does not represent any client or any interest except justice. It
should not be forgotten, however, that a lawyer has
an immutable duty to a former client with respect to
matters that he previously handled for that former client. In
this case, matters relating to personnel, labor policies,
and labor relations that he previously handled as Personnel
Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat. I.S. No. 97-240 was
for "Violation of the Labor Code." Here lies the conflict.

As for the secondary accusations of harassing certain


employees of Taggat and instigating the filing of criminal
complaints, we find the evidence insufficient.
Accordingly, Respondent should be found guilty of conflict of
interest, failure to safeguard a former clients interest, and
violating the prohibition against the private practice of law
while being a government prosecutor. 40

The Ruling of the Court


The Court exonerates respondent from the charge of violation
of Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
("Code"). However, the Court finds respondent liable for
violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility against unlawful conduct. 42 Respondent
committed unlawful conduct when he violated Section 7(b)(2)
of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public
Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713 ("RA 6713").

Canon 6 provides that the Code "shall apply to lawyers in


government service in the discharge of their official
duties." 43 A government lawyer is thus bound by the
prohibition "not [to] represent conflicting
interests." 44However, this rule is subject to certain limitations.
The prohibition to represent conflicting interests does not
apply when no conflict of interest exists, when a written
consent of all concerned is given after a full disclosure of the
facts or when no true attorney-client relationship
exists. 45 Moreover, considering the serious consequence of
the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, clear
preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition
of the administrative penalty. 46
Respondent is also mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not
to engage in "unlawful x x x conduct." Unlawful conduct
includes violation of the statutory prohibition on a government
employee to "engage in the private practice of [his] profession
unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that
such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with [his]
official functions." 47
Complainants evidence failed to substantiate the claim that
respondent represented conflicting interests
In Quiambao v. Bamba, 48 the Court enumerated various tests
to determine conflict of interests. One test of inconsistency of
interests is whether the lawyer will be asked to use against his
former client any confidential information acquired through
their connection or previous employment. 49 In essence, what
a lawyer owes his former client is to maintain inviolate the
clients confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will
injuriously affect him in any matter in which he previously
represented him. 50
In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when
respondent handled the preliminary investigation of the
criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The
issue in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of
wages that occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997.
Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with Taggat
during that period since he resigned sometime in 1992.
In order to charge respondent for representing conflicting
interests, evidence must be presented to prove that
respondent used against Taggat, his former client, any
confidential information acquired through his previous
employment. The only established participation respondent
had with respect to the criminal complaint is that he was the
one who conducted the preliminary investigation. On that
basis alone, it does not necessarily follow that respondent
used any confidential information from his previous
employment with complainant or Taggat in resolving the
criminal complaint.

The fact alone that respondent was the former Personnel


Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat and the case he
resolved as government prosecutor was labor-related is not a
sufficient basis to charge respondent for representing
conflicting interests. A lawyers immutable duty to a former
client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the
lawyers employment with the client. The intent of the law is
to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the clients
interests only on matters that he previously handled for the
former client and not for matters that arose after the lawyerclient relationship has terminated.
Further, complainant failed to present a single iota of
evidence to prove her allegations. Thus, respondent is not
guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.
Respondent engaged in the private practice of law while
working as a government prosecutor
The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as
x x x any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and
experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to perform
those acts which are characteristics of the profession.
Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind
of service, which device or service requires the use in any
degree of legal knowledge or skill." 51
"Private practice of law" contemplates a succession of acts of
the same nature habitually or customarily holding ones self to
the public as a lawyer. 52
Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy
services to Taggat intermittently and he was not a retained
counsel of Taggat from 1995 to 1996 as alleged. This
argument is without merit because the law does not
distinguish between consultancy services and retainer
agreement. For as long as respondent performed acts that are
usually rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal
knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the term
"practice of law."
Nonetheless, respondent admitted that he rendered his legal
services to complainant while working as a government
prosecutor. Even the receipts he signed stated that the
payments by Taggat were for "Retainers fee." 53 Thus, as
correctly pointed out by complainant, respondent clearly
violated the prohibition in RA 6713.
However, violations of RA 6713 are not subject to disciplinary
action under the Code of Professional Responsibility unless the
violations also constitute infractions of specific provisions of
the Code of Professional Responsibility. Certainly, the IBP has
no jurisdiction to investigate violations of RA 6713 the Code
of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees unless the acts involved also transgress
provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Here, respondents violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a
violation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that "[a]
lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct." Respondents admission that he received
from Taggat fees for legal services while serving as a

government prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which


constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
Respondent admitted that complainant also charged him with
unlawful conduct when respondent stated in his Demurrer to
Evidence:
In this instant case, the complainant prays that the
respondent be permanently and indefinitely suspended or
disbarred from the practice of the law profession and his
name removed from the Roll of Attorneys on the following
grounds:
xxxx
d) that respondent manifested gross misconduct and gross
violation of his oath of office and in his dealings with the
public. 54
On the Appropriate Penalty on Respondent
The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the
exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the surrounding
facts. 55

Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government
employees engaging in unauthorized private practice of
profession is suspension for six months and one day to one
year. 56 We find this penalty appropriate for respondents
violation in this case of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Carlos B.
Sagucio GUILTY of violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly,
we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio from the
practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective upon finality of this
Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar
Confidant to be appended to respondents personal record as
an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the
Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their
information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.