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agent or friend of a party litigant, even without the supervision

ELEUTERIO F. GUERRERO and HON. ZENAIDA of a member of the bar.
G.R. No. 154207. April 27, 2007 Cruz filed a Second Motion for Reconsideration with the
MeTC seeking the reversal of the Denial Order of the said court,
FACTS: on the strength of Bar Matter No. 730, and a Motion to Hold In
Abeyance the Trial of the criminal case pending the outcome of
Petitioner Ferdinand A. Cruz (Cruz) filed before the the certiorari proceedings before the RTC. RTC denied the
MeTC a formal Entry of Appearance, as private prosecutor, in Motion for Reconsideration. Likewise, the MeTC denied the
a criminal case for Grave Threats, where his father, Mariano Second Motion for Reconsideration and the Motion to Hold in
Cruz, is the complaining witness. Cruz describes himself as a Abeyance the Trial on the ground that the RTC had already
third year law student and justifies his appearance as private denied the Entry of Appearance of Cruz before the MeTC.
prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court and the Cantimbuhan v. Judge Cruz, Jr. case —that a ISSUE:
non-lawyer may appear before the inferior courts as an agent
or friend of a party litigant. Cruz also avers that his appearance Whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear
was with the prior conformity of the public prosecutor and a before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party litigant.
written authority of Mariano Cruz appointing him to be his
agent in the prosecution of the case. RULING:

However, the MeTC denied permission for Cruz to Yes. There is really no problem as to the application of
appear as private prosecutor on the ground that Circular No. Section 34 of Rule 138 and Rule 138-A. In the former, the
19 governing limited law student practice in conjunction with appearance of a non-lawyer, as an agent or friend of a party
Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student Practice Rule) litigant, is expressly allowed, while the latter rule provides for
should take precedence over Cantimbuhan case . Cruz filed a conditions when a law student, not as an agent or a friend of a
Motion for Reconsideration alleging that Rule 138-A, or the Law party litigant, may appear before the courts.
Student Practice Rule, does not have the effect of superseding
Section 34 of Rule 138, for the authority to interpret the rule is Petitioner expressly anchored his appearance on
the source itself of the rule, which is the Supreme Court alone. Section 34 of Rule 138. The court a quo must have been
MeTC denied the Motion for Reconsideration. confused by the fact that petitioner referred to himself as a law
student in his entry of appearance. Rule 138-A should not have
Cruz filed before the RTC a Petition been used by the courts a quo in denying permission to act as
for Certiorari and Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary private prosecutor against petitioner for the simple reason that
Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order against the Rule 138-A is not the basis for the petitioner’s appearance.
private respondent and the public respondent MeTC. The RTC
denied the issuance of an injunctive writ. Cruz cites Bar Matter Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the
No. 730 dated June 10, 1997 which expressly provides for the inferior courts by a non-lawyer is allowed, irrespective of
appearance of a non-lawyer before the inferior courts, as an whether or not he is a law student. As succinctly clarified in


Bar Matter No. 730, by virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted.—In the
student may appear, as an agent or a friend of a party litigant, court of a justice of the peace, a party may conduct
without the supervision of a lawyer before inferior courts. 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. In any other court, a party may
Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides: conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
attorney, and his appearance must be either
RULE 138-A personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior
“Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice.—A law court as an agent or friend of a party without the
student who has successfully completed his 3rd supervision of a member of the bar.” 7 (Emphasis
year of the regular four-year prescribed law supplied)
curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law
school’s clinical legal education program approved The phrase “In the court of a justice of the peace” in Bar
by the Supreme Court, may appear without Matter No. 730 is subsequently changed to “In the court of a
compensation in any civil, criminal or administrati ve municipality” as it now appears in Section 34 of Rule 138, thus:
case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer,
to represent indigent clients accepted by the legal “SEC. 34. By whom litigation is conducted.—In the
clinic of the law school. Court of a municipality a party may conduct his
litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or
Sec. 2. Appearance.—The appearance of the law friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with
student authorized by this rule, shall be under the the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party
direct supervision and control of a member of the may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by attorney and his appearance must be either
the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions, personal or by a duly authorized member of the
briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must bar.” (Emphasis supplied)
be signed by the supervising attorney for and in
behalf of the legal clinic.”

However, in Resolution dated June 10, 1997 in Bar

Matter No. 730, the Court En Banc clarified:

The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before

an inferior court, where the issues and procedure are relatively
simple. In inferior courts, a law student may appear in his
personal capacity without the supervision of a lawyer. Section
34, Rule 138 provides:


A.M . No. M TJ-02-1459. October 14, 2003. * the defendants filed their Opposition to complainant’s
IM ELDA Y. M ADERADA, complainant, vs. Judge ERNESTO prayer for preliminary injunction and TRO.
H. M EDIODEA, 12th M unicipal Circuit Trial Court, The September 28 hearing was held in abeyance after
Cabatuan and M aasin, Iloilo, respondent. the defendants’ lawyer questioned the authority of
Under the Rules of Court, parties to a case in a first-level court complainant to appear on behalf of and as counsel for her
may—without having to resign from their posts— conduct their co-plaintiff. Respondent gave the defendants ten days to
own litigation in person as well as appear for and on their own file a motion to disqualify complainant from appearing
behalf as plaintiffs or defendants. However, appearing as as counsel and thereafter to complainant to file her
counsel on behalf of a co-plaintiff subjects the employee to opposition thereto.
administrati ve liability. In his Order dated October 19, 2001, respondent denied
FACTS: the defendants’ Motion to disqualify complainant from
A Complaint dated January 3, 2002, was filed by Imelda Y. appearing on behalf of and as counsel for her co-
Maderada against Judge Ernesto H. Mediodea of the 12th plaintiff.
Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Cabatuan and Maasin, Complainant filed a total of three Motions praying for
Iloilo. In the Complaint, the judge was charged with “gross judgment to be rendered on the civil case. In an Order
ignorance of the law amounting to grave misconduct” for dated October 19, 2001, respondent denied
failing “to observe and apply the Revised Rule on Summary complainant’s Motions because of the pending hearing
Procedure” in Civil Case No. 252. for the issuance of a restraining order and an
On September 7, 2001, complainant (maderada) filed injunction. He likewise denied the defendants’ Motion
before the 12th MCTC of Cabatuan and Maasin, Iloilo— for extension of time to file an answer. Complainant did
presided over by Judge Erlinda Tersol—an action for not ask for a reconsideration of the denial of her Motion
forcible entry with a prayer for preliminary for Rendition of Judgment.
injunction, temporary restraining order (TRO) and In his Comment on the Complaint, respondent (mediodea)
damages covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure. contends that complainant filed a Petiti on for his inhibition
Because complainant (maderada) was the clerk of court after filing two administrative cases against him. He argues that
in the aforesaid sala, Judge Tersol inhibited herself from the mere filing of administrative charges against judges is not
the case. Thus, Executive Judge Tito Gustilo designated a ground for disqualifying them from hearing cases. In the
respondent judge (mediodea) to hear and decide the exercise of their discretion, however, they m ay voluntarily
case. disqualify themselves. It is worth noting that respondent later
In an Order dated September 13, 2001, respondent inhibited himself from Civil Case No. 252. The case was then
(mediodea) required the defendants in the civi l case to reassigned to Judge Loida Maputol of the 14th MCTC, San
show cause why the preliminary injunction should not Miguel-Alimodian-Leon, Iloilo.
be granted. Respondent judge scheduled the hearing on Respondent avers that the delay in the resolution of the case
September 21, 2001, but defendants therein filed a cannot be attributed to him, considering that he was mandated
Manifestation on September 17, 2001, praying that they by law and the rules of procedure to pass upon every motion
be given an additional period of ten days to file an presented before him. Besides, complainant allegedly failed to
answer. After the September 21 hearing, respondent present evidence necessary for the imm ediate resolution of her
reset the hearing to September 28, 2001. Meanwhile, prayer for preliminary injunction. Moreover, she supposedly
failed to exhaust the remedies available to her to question the


validity of his Orders. Instead, she tried to compel him to render Individuals have long been permitted to manage, prosecute
a decision on the case. and defend their own actions; and when they do so they are
Respondent likewise refutes complainant’s assertion that not considered to be in the practice of law
1. she appeared as counsel on her own behalf because she Since complainant was charged with engaging in a private
could not afford the services of a lawyer. Such claim was vocation or profession when she appeared on her own behalf in
allegedly without basis, since her compensation and court, the necessary implication was that she was in the
other benefits as clerk of court were more than enough to practice of law. We clarify. A party’s right to conduct litigation
pay for the services of counsel. personally is recognized by law. Section 34 of Rule 138 of the
2. He further alleges that she did not secure authority from Rules of Court provides:
this Court to appear as counsel, and “SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. —In the court of a
3. that she failed to file her leave of absence every time she justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person,
appeared in court. with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that
purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a
Evaluation and Recommendation of the Court party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
Administrator attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a
According to the OCA, officials and employees of the judiciary duly authorized member of the bar.”
must devote their full time to government service to ensure the This provision means that in a litigation, parties may personally
efficient and speedy administration of justice. Although they do everything during its progress—from its commencement to
are not absolutely prohibited from engaging in a vocation or a its termination. 41 When they, however, act as their own
profession, they should do so only with prior approval of this attorneys, they are restricted to the same rules of evidence and
Court. procedure as those qualified to practice law; otherwise,
The OCA added that “engaging in any private business, ignorance would be unjustifiably rewarded. 42 Individuals have
vocation or profession without prior approval of the Court is long been permitted to manage, prosecute and defend their own
tantamount to moonlighting, which amounts to malfeasance in actions; and when they do so, they are not considered to be in
office.” the practice of law. 43 “One does not practice law by acting for
Thus, it recommended that Complainant Maderada be fined in himself any more than he practices medicine by rendering first
the amount of P1,000 for appearing as counsel without aid to himself.
authority from this Court, with a stern warning that any similar The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly,
infraction in the future would be dealt with more severely. The involves the exercise of a profession or vocation usually for
OCA also recommended that she be directed to file her gain, mainly as attorney by acting in a representative capacity
application for leaves of absence on the days she had appeared and as counsel by rendering legal advice to others.
in court to litigate her case. Private Practice Defined; Complainant cannot be said to be
ISSUE: Whether Maderada, a clerk of court, may appear as in the practice of law.
counsel for herself and on behalf of her co-plaintiff. Private practice has been defined by this Court as follows: “x x
HELD: May appe ar for herself but not for co-plaintiff x. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists
Practice of Law; A party’s right to conduct litigation in frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the
personally is recognized by law; W hen they act as their own same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise.
attorneys, they are restricted to the same rules of evidence Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute [referring
and procedure as those qualified to practice law; to the prohibition for judges and other officials or employees of


the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General from dispensation of justice carries a heavy burden of responsibility.
engaging in private practice] has been interpreted as Given these circumstances, the penalty of reprimand is
customarily or habitually holding one’s self out to the public, sufficient.
as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services. This Court reiterates its policy not to tolerate or condone any
Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not conduct, act or omission that falls short of the exacting norms
customarily or habitually holding herself out to the public as a of public office, especially on the part of those expected to
lawyer. Neither was she demanding payment for such services. preserve the image of the judiciary. Thus, it will not shirk from
Hence, she cannot be said to be in the practice of law. its responsibility of imposing discipline upon its employees in
The law allows persons who are not lawyers by profession to order not to diminish the people’s faith in our justice system.
litigate their own case in court. The right of complainant to But when the charge has no basis, it will not hesitate to shield
litigate her case personally cannot be taken away from her. Her the innocent court employee from any groundless accusation
being an employee of the judiciary does not remove from her that trifles with judicial processes, 52 and that serves only to
the right to proceedings in propria persona or to self- disrupt rather than promote the orderly administration of
representation. To be sure, the lawful exercise of a right cannot justice.
make one administratively liable. Thus, we need not go into a
discussion of the Court’s ruling 49 in Cayetano v. Monsod CANON 9 RULE 9.01;
regarding the extent of the practice of law.
However, it was also clearly established that complainant had
BAR M ATTER 730 (June 13, 1997)
appeared on behalf of her co-plaintiff in the case below, for I. Canon 9 Rule 9.01
which act the former cannot be completely exonerated.
“A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the
Representing oneself is different from appearing on behalf performance of any task which by law may only be performed
of someone else. by a member of the Bar in good standing.”
The raison d’etre for allowing litigants to represent themselves
1. Delegation of legal work to an unqualified person is
in court will not apply when a person is already appearing for
another party. Obviously, because she was already defending
the rights of another person when she appeared for her co- - Practice of law is limited only to individuals duly
plaintiff, it cannot be argued that complainant was merely qualified in moral character and education and who
protecting her rights. That their rights may be interrelated will passed the Bar examinations
not give complainant authority to appear in court. The - Practice of law is just a privilege and may be
undeniable fact remains that she and her co-plaintiff are two withdrawn if the lawyer fails to maintain the
distinct individuals. The former may be impairing the efficiency standards of moral and professional conduct
of public service once she appears for the latter without - Whether such person is knowledgeable in the law is
permission from this Court. immaterial
We cannot countenance any act that would undermine the  Example:
people’s faith and confidence in the judiciary, even if we  A lawyer under
consider that this was the first-time complainant appeared in suspension from practice
court, that she appeared for her own sister, and that there was
of law is NOT a member of
no showing she did so for a fee. Again, we should be reminded
the Bar in good standing
that everyone connected with an office that is charged with the


A lawyer whose authority  Presiding Judge Pastoral issued an order requiring
to practice law has been Carmona to be accompanied by a supervising lawyer on
withdrawn due to a the next hearing.
change in citizenship or
allegiance to the country
 UP-OLA and Secretary of Justice executed a MOA
is NOT a member of the
dire cting Atty. Catubao and Atty. Legayada of the PAO
bar in good standing
to supervise Carmona during the subsequent hearings.
2. A lawyer shall not allow a non-member of the Bar to
 Justice Barredo: a law student appearing before the
misrepresent hi mself as a lawyer
court under Rule 138-A should be accompanied by a
3. A lawyer cannot delegate his authority without the
supervising lawyer. However UP-OLA submits: such
client’s consent
matter should be left to the sound discretion of the court
- It doesn’t follow that the retained lawyer is
after having at least one supervised appearance.
always authorized to make such delegation to a
 Court En Banc: A law student appearing before the
qualified person. Consent of client needed.
- Client-lawyer relationship is a personal one. RTC under Rule 138-A should AT ALL TIM ES BE
pursuant to Sec 2 of Rule 138-A.
II. IN RE: NEED THAT LAW STUDENT PRACTICING  “Direct supervision and control” requires no less than
UNDER RULE 138-A BE ACTUALLY SUPERVISED the physical presence of the supervising lawyer during
DURING TRIAL (Bar matter 730 June 13, 1997) the hearing, in accordance with the threefold rationale
behind the Law Student Practice Rule:
1. To ensure that there will be no
 Issue raised by retired SC Justice Antonio P. Barredo,
miscarriage of justice;
as counsel for the defendant in Caliwara v. Catbagan:
2. To provide a mechanism to protect law
WON a law student who appears before the court under
school clinic from any potential vicarious
the Law Student Practice Rule (Rule138-A) should be
liability arising from culpable action by
accompanied by a member of the bar during trial.
their law students;
 In the case of Caliwara v. Catbagan, the plaintiff was
3. To ensure consistency with the
represented by Mr. Cornelio Carmona Jr, an intern of
fundamental principle that no person is
the Office of the Legal Aid, UP College of Law (UP-OLA).
allowed to practice a profession without
 Mr. Carmona conducted hearings and completed the
possessing the qualifications,
presentation of the evidence-in-chief without the
particularly a license, as required by law.
presence of the supervising lawyer.
 Allowing a law student to appear before the court
 Justice Barredo questioned Mr. Carmona’s appearance
unaccompanied by a supervising lawyer CANNOT be left
during the hearing because the latter was not
to the discretion of the presiding judge. The rule must
accompanied by a duly accredited lawyer.
be strictly construed because public policy demands
that legal work should be entrusted only to those who


possess tested legal qualifications, are sworn to observe a party may conduct his litigation personally or by the aid of an
the rules and ethics of the legal profession and subject attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a
to judicial control. duly authorized member of the bar.
 The rule is diffe rent when the law student appears
before an inferior court where the issues are relatively Issue:
simple. In this case a law student may appear in his W/N Malana and Lucila are allowed to appear as friends
of party litigant Cantimbuhan.
personal capacity without a supervising lawyer
pursuant to Section 34 Rule 138.
Yes, there is merit in the petition.
Romulo Cantimbuhan, M alana, Lucila vs.
The court held that pursuant to Sec. 34 Rule 138 ROC
Judge Cruz & Fiscal Quilatan
in a municipal court a party may conduct his litigation in
person with the aid of an agent appointed by him for that
Facts: purpose.
Petitioner Cantimbuhan filed separate criminal
complaints against two police officers for less serious physical
In the case of Laput vs. Bernade, a law student was
injuries in the municipal court of Paranaque. allowed to represent the accused in a case pending before the
Manila Municipal Court, who was charged for damages to
Petitioners Malana and Lucila, were the senior law
properly through reckless imprudence.
students of the UP, assisting the needy clients in the office of
legal aid. They filed their separate appearances as friends of
Further, the court held that the permission of the fiscal
complainant petitioner Cantimbuhan which was opposed by
is not necessary for one to enter his appearance as private
Fiscal Quilatan and sustained by Judge Cruz and disallowed prosecutors because the law does not impose this condition.
the appearances if petitioner Malana and Lucila , as private
What the fiscal can do if he wants to handle the case personally
prosecutors in said criminal cases. The motion for
is to disallow the private prosecutor’s participate, whether he
reconsideration of the petitioners was also denied. be a lawyer or not. On the other hand, if the fiscal desires the
active participation of the private prosecutor, he can just
It was contended by the respondents that pursuant to
manifest to the court that the private prosecutor, with its
Sec. 4 and 15 of Rule 110 of ROC, the fiscal is empowered to approval, will conduct the prosecution of the case under his
determine who shall be the private prosecutor and the exercise
supervision and control. Furthermore, the court held that if a
of the offended party to intervene is subject to the direction and
non-lawyer can appear as defense council or as friend of the
control of the fiscal and that his appearance requires the prior
accused in a case before the MTC, with more reason that he
approval of the fi scal.
allowed to appear as private prosecutor under the supervision
and control of their fiscal.
The basis of the petitioner on the other hand is section
34 of Rule 138 of the ROC which provides that in the court of
Wherefore, the orders issued by the respondent Judge
the justice of the peace, a party may conduct his litigation in disallowing the appearances of petitioners Malana and Lucila
person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for
were set aside and Judge Cruz was ordered to allow the
that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court,


appearance and intervention of Malana and Lucila as friends of including its atmosphere, its interior waters and maritime zone,
Cantimbuhan. but also outside of its jurisdiction, against those who:
1. Should commit an offense while on a Philippine ship or
SECTION 4 and 15 OF RULE 110 RULES OF COURT airship
2. Should forge or counterfeit any coin or currency note of the
Section 4. Philippine Islands or obligations and securities issued by the
Information defined. — An information is an accusation in Government of the Philippine Islands;
writing charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the 3. Should be liable for acts connected with the introduction
prosecutor and filed with the court. into these islands of the obligations and securities mentioned
in the presiding numbe r;
Section 15. 4. While being public officers or employees, should commit
Place where action is to be instituted. an offense in the exercise of their functions; or
(a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be 5. Should commit any of the crimes against national security
instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory and the law of nations, defined in Title One of Book Two of
where the offense was committed or where any of its this Code.
essential ingredients occurred.
(b) Where an offense is committed in a train, aircraft, or A.C. No. 5299 August 19, 2003
other public or private vehicle while in the course of its trip, the
criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court of any ATTY. ISM AEL G. KHAN JR. vs. ATTY. RIZALINO T.
municipality or territory where such train, aircraft or other SIM BILLO
vehicle passed during such its trip, including the place of its
departure and arrival.
(c) Where an offense is committed on board a vessel in the FACTS:
This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement
course of its voyage, the criminal action shall be instituted and
that appeared in the issue of the newspaper, Philippine Daily
tried in the court of the first port of entry or of any municipality
or territory where the vessel passed during such voyage, Inquirer, which reads: "ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist
532-4333/521-2667."Further research by the Office of the
subject to the generally accepted principles of international law.
Court Administrator and the Public Information Office revealed
(d) Crimes committed outside the Philippines but
punishable under Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code shall be that similar advertisements were published in the issues of the
Manila Bulletin and issue of The Phili ppine Star.
cognizable by the court where the criminal action is first filed.
Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as Assistant Court
Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office, filed
an administrative complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo
In relation to:
for improper advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in
Revised Penal Code
Article 2. violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.
Application of its provisions. - Except as provided in the treaties
and laws of preferential application, the provisions of this Code
shall be enforced not only within the Philippine Archipelago, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines finding respondent guilty
of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional


Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court, There is no question that respondent committed the acts
and suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year complained of. He himself admits that he caused the
with the warning that a repetition of similar acts would be dealt publication of the advertisements. What adds to the gravity of
with more severely. respondent’s acts is that in advertising himself as a self-styled
"Annulment of M arriage Specialist," he wittingly or
ISSUE: unwittingly erodes and undermines not only the stability but
also the sanctity of an institution still conside red sacrosanct
Whether or not respondent Atty. Simbillo committed an act in despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in our
violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional society. Indeed, in assuring prospective clients that an
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. annulment may be obtained in four to six months from the time
of the filing of the case, he in fact encourages people, who might
have otherwise been disinclined and would have refrained from
RULING: dissolving their marriage bonds, to do so.
Therefore, respondent RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is found GUILTY
Yes. It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
not a business. It is a profession in which duty to public service, Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.
not money, is the primary consideration. The gaining of a He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR
livelihood should be a secondary consideration. effective upon receipt of this Resolution.

The following elements distinguish the legal profession from a Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
business: read:

1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a Rule 2.03. – A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act
by-product, and in which one may attain the highest designed primarily to solicit legal business.
eminence without making much money;
Rule 3.01. – A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any
2. A relation as an "officer of the court" to the false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-
administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his
integrity and reliability; qualifications or legal services.

3. A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary; Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states:

4. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme
candor, fairness, and unwillingness to resort to current Court, grounds therefor. – A member of the bar may be disbarred
business methods of advertising and encroachment on or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court
their practice, or dealing directly with their clients for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such
office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of
a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath


which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or Yes. Atty. Tolentino is suspended from practicing law for one
for a willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party year for violating Rule 1.03, 2.03, 8.02, 16.04 and Canon 3 of
without authority to do so. Code of Professional Responsibility.
With regard to Canon 3 of the CPR, it provides that:
This is a complaint for disbarment filed by Pedro Linsangan of LEGAL SERVICES SHALL USE ONLY TRUE,
the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTI VE
Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS.
encroachment of professional services. Complainant alleged
that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of
convinced his clients to transfer legal representation. law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not
Respondent promised them financial assistance and advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares. To
expeditious collection on their claims. To induce them to hire allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize
his services, he persistently called them and sent them text the practice of law, degrade the profession in the publics
messages. To support his allegations, complainant presented estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high
the sworn affidavit of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano character of service to which every member of the bar is called.
tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations
with complainant and utilize respondents services instead, in Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:
exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached
respondents calling card. Respondent, in his defense, denied RULE 2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR
knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation PERMIT TO BE DONE ANY ACT DESIGN ED
of the said calling card. The complaint was referred to the PRIMARILY TO SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS.
Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the
recommendation. purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or
brokers. Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for
Issue: disbarment.
Whether or not Atty. Tolentino is guilty of solicitation of clients
and encroachment of professional services. Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03
of the CPR which provides:


ENCOURAGE ANY SUIT OR PROCEEDING OR Court of Appeals, Second District, Division 3, California.
Ralph J. GEFFEN, Plaintiff Cross-Defendant and
Appellant, v. Russell J. M OSS, Defendant Cross-
This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of Complainant and Respondent.
almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or
through an agent in order to gain employment) as a measure to Civ. 46079.
protect the community from barratry and champerty.
Complainant presented substantial evidence (consisting of the Decided: November 24, 1975
sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano
FACTS: Ralph J. Geffen appeals from a judgment entered in
and referred to respondents office) to prove that respondent
favor of Russell J. Moss in an action for damages for breach of
indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals contract. It appears without conflict that, because of an
suits. Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in appointment as a United States magistrate precluding him
his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing. from continuing the private practice of law, attorney Geffen
Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was entered into a written agreement with attorney Moss whereby
benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer Geffen agreed to sell and Moss to buy ‘the physical assets, files
representation on the strength of Labianos word that and work in process' of Geffen's law practice. The total
purchase price was $27,500. Fifteen thousand dollars was paid
respondent could produce a more favorable result. With regard
in accordance with the terms of the contract. The action seeks
to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the to recover an unpaid balance of $12,500 plus attorney's fees
rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor and costs.
induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service,
good result or reduced fees for his services. Again the Court The pertinent provisions of the contract are as follows:
notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in
his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos referrals. The purchase shall include:
Furthermore, he never denied Labianos connection to his
office. Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep A. Entire law library, excepting not to exceed ten (10) books to
into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under be agreed upon between the parties, and Martindale -Hubbell
Rule 8.02 of the CPR.

B. Any and all furniture, fixtures, furnishings and equipment,

excepting not to exceed six (6) items of decor (not major items)
selected by Geffen; and

C. Subje ct to approval thereof by the respective clients, all

cases and legal matters now pending in the above law practice


except personal injury or wrongful death cases and the
following legal matters:
ISSUE: Whether or not the provision of the contract which
Geffen will sublet to Moss, at the same rental (Three Hundre d states that Geffen expresses an intention to exert his influence
Dollars ($300.00) per month (and upon the same terms and for the continued welfare of the practice and to encourage
conditions as are provided in the Master Lease held by him, present and former clients to utilize the legal services of the
Suite 7 (six (6) rooms) now occupied by Geffen at 11850 East office in the future is contrary to public policy and
Firestone Boulevard, Norwalk, California, for a term of three (3) unenforceable.
years. Upon full payment of the purchase price, Geffen will
assign to Moss said Master Lease and will assist in procuring a HELD: YES. Noting that the fair value of the physical assets,
further lease in Moss' name alone as lessee thereafter upon defined as library, furniture, fixtures, furnishings and
request of Moss. equipment is established in the contract to be $15,000 and that
all fees earned for work done by Moss or collected for work in
Geffen expresses an intention to exert his influence for the progress belong to Moss, we immediately wonder what the
continued welfare of the practice and to encourage additional consideration, payable in monthly installments
present and former clients to utilize the legal services of totaling $12,500 covers. It does not appear to be for assignment
the office in the future. of the lease since that act is contingent upon and to be made
after full payment of the total purchase price of $27,500. What
Of the total purchase price, Fifteen Thousand Dollars else was being sold for the $12,500 now being sought by Geffen
($15,000.00) is attributable to the fair value of physical assets in this action?
No attack is made upon the sufficiency of the e vidence to
The trial court found, among others, that the plaintiff's attempt support the finding that the parties ‘considered the expectation
to sell the expectation of future patronage of his former and of future business from present and former clients as a
current clients and to encourage them to patronize the principal motivating factor in this sale transaction’ and that
defendant, and the defendant's attempt to purchase the future without that expectation the value of the law office would not
patronage of the plaintiff's former and current clients and the exceed $15,000.
recommendation of himself by the plaintiff to those former and
current clients constitutes an attempt to buy and sell the good Noting, as found by the trial court, that two able experienced
will of a law practice, and such sale or attempted sale of the attorneys drew the agreement to sell only insofar as this could
good will of the law practice is contrary to public policy and be accomplished ‘within the limits and confines of the canons
against the spirit and intent of Rules 2 and 3 of Section 6076 of ethics,’ they themselves acknowledge some applicable
of the Business and Professions Code, ‘The State Bar Act’ and limitation on the scope of the sale. We agree that, insofar as the
of the ABA Canons of Ethics No. 4, EC 4—6, prohibiting the parties purport to sell the physical assets and to assign the
sale of a law practice as a going business. leasehold and dispose of pending office matters, the agreement
does not violate public policy as expressed in the canons of legal
ethics. However, it appears obvious to us that both parties,
recognizing a limitation against the sale of good will,


nevertheless attempted to avoid a proscription against such by Bar, 209 Cal. 677, 682, 289 P. 818.) Thus, our research has
deliberately failing to mention good will as such in the brought to light no case in this jurisdiction in whi ch an
agreement. We cannot say that the trial court's resolution of allowance was made to a partner for goodwill upon the
the matter was unreasonable. The attempted sale of the dissolution of a partnership created for the practice of law.’ The
expectation of future patronage by former and current clients judgment is modified by striking therefrom that portion
of a law office coupled with an agreement to encourage said awarding defendant attorney's fees. In all other respects the
clients to continue to patronize the purchaser of the physical judgment is affirmed.
assets of the office, under the facts of this case, may well be
said to constitute an attempt to buy and sell the good will of a
law practice as a going business, contrary to public policy, and
that the portion of the agreement purporting to so do is invalid
and unenforceable.

The following language found in Linnick v. State Bar, 62 Cal.2d

17, 21, 41 Cal.Rptr. 1, 3, 396 P.2d 33, 35, although involving
the activities of a lay person and an attorney, indicates the
existence of applicable e thical considerations:

‘Rule 3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, however, prohibits

an attorney from remunerating another for either ‘soliciting’ or
‘obtaining’ employment for him. Whether or not a lay
intermediary solicits the business referred, he may not keep the
best interests of the clients paramount when he profits from his
referrals. He is likely to refer claimants, not to the most
competent attorney, but to the one who is compensating him.
(See Hildebrand v. State Bar, 36 Cal.2d 504, 521, 523, 225 P.2d
508 (concurring opinion by Traynor, J.);

‘The nature of a professional partnership for the practice of law,

the reputation of which depends on the skill, training and
experience of each individual member, and the personal and
confidential relationship existing between each such member
and the client, places such a partnership in a class apart from
other business and professional partnerships. The legal
profession stands in a peculiar relation to the public and the
relationship existing between the members of the profession
and those who seek its services cannot be likened to the
relationship of a merchant to his customer. (Barton v. State