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Khan vs. Simbillo, A.C No.

5299, August 19, 2003

A paid advertisement in the Philippine Daily Inquirer was published which reads: “Annulment of Marriage Specialist [contact number]”. Espeleta, a staff of the
Supreme Court, called up the number but it was Mrs. Simbillo who answered. She claims that her husband, Atty. Simbillo was an expert in handling annulment
cases and can guarantee a court decree within 4-6mos provided thecase will not involve separation of property and custody of children. It appears that similar
advertisements were also published. An administrative complaint was filed which was referred to the IBP for investigation and recommendation. The IBP resolved
to suspend Atty. Simbillo for 1year. Note that although the name of Atty. Simbillo did not appear in the advertisement, he admitted the acts imputed against him but
argued that he should not be charged. He said that it was time to lift the absolute prohibition against advertisement because the interest of the public isn’t served in
any way by the prohibition.

Whether or not Simbillo violated Rule2.03 & Rule3.01.

Yes! The practice of law is not a business --- it is a profession in which the primary duty is public service and money. Gaining livelihood is a secondary
consideration while duty to public service and administration of justice should be primary. Lawyers should subordinate their primary interest. Worse, advertising
himself as an “annulment of marriage specialist” he erodes and undermines the sanctity of an institution still considered as sacrosanct --- he in fact encourages
people otherwise disinclined to dissolve their marriage bond. Solicitation of business is not altogether proscribed but for it to be proper it must be compatible with
the dignity of the legal profession. Note that the law list where the lawyer’s name appears must be a reputable law list only for that purpose --- a lawyer may not
properly publish in a daily paper, magazine…etc., nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published the contents of which are likely to deceive or injure the public
or the bar.


Facts: A complaint for disbarment was filed by Pedro Linsangan against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional
services. Complaint alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients to transfer legal representation. Respondent promised
them financial assistance and expeditious collection on their claims. To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages.
To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client
relations with complainant and utilize respondent’s services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50, 000.00. Complainant also attached “respondent’s” calling card.
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card.

Issue: Whether or not Tolentino’s actions warrant disbarment.

Held: Yes. Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides that a lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business. Hence, lawyers are
prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers. Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for
disbarment. Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides that lawyer, shall not for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage
any suit or proceeding or delay any man’s cause. This rule proscribes “ambulance chasing” (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney,
personally or through an agent in order to gain employment) as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty. In the case at bar, complainant
presented substantial evidence (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondent’s office) to prove that
respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals’ suits. Through Labiano’s actions, respondent’s law practice was benefited. Hapless
seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength of Labiano’s word that respondent could produce a more favorable result. Based on the foregoing,
respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Any act of
solicitations constitutes malpractice which calls for the exercise of the Court’s disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statues warrants serious sanctions for
initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining employment. Thus in this jurisdiction, the Court adheres to the rule to protect the public from
the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.

Canon 2: A lawyer shall make his legal services available in an efficient and convenient manner compatible with the independence, integrity and effectiveness of the
profession. Rule 2.03: A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business


FACTS: Geffen appeals from a judgement rendered in favor of Moss in an action for damages for breach of contract. Attorney Geffen was designated as a magistrate
therefore precluding him from continuing his private practice of law. Geffen then decided to sell his physical assets involving his law practice to Moss for $27,500. It
includes Geffen’s entire law library, all furniture and equipment, and all the cases and legal matters subject to the approval of his respective clients. $15,000 was
paid but the remaining balance was not paid thus this case.

ISSUE: WON such sale of expectation of future patronage of Geffen’s former clients to encourage them to patronize Moss is valid.

HELD: NO. Rule 3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, 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.

Even though such agreement is not contrary to public policy, the court ruled in a similar jurisprudence, Lyon vs Lyon that:

"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. Thus, our research has brought to light no case in
this jurisdiction in which an allowance was made to a partner for goodwill upon the dissolution of a partnership created for the practice of law."

In Re: Krasner

FACTS: The Board of Managers and Committee on Grievances of the Chicago Bar Association have filed a report recommending that respondent be suspended
from the practice of law for a period of five years on the basis of findings that he had unethically engaged in conduct which constituted a division of fees with
laymen and the employment of solicitors to procure law business. Respondenthas filed exceptions to the report contending there is no evidence to support such
The disciplinary proceeding was an outgrowth of an indictment returned to a Federal district court wherein a man named David E. Vogele was charged with
evasion of income tax. He pleaded guilty, and at a hearing on the matter of his punishment it came to light that he was a professional "ambulance chaser" and that
the source of his unreported income had been payments from some twenty lawyers, of whom respondent was one.

At the hearing which followed, the evidence on behalf of the complainant association consisted only of the testimony of respondent and his partner, and certain
ledger sheets and cancelled checks of the partnership. For the respondent, two judges, numerous attorneys and a businessman testified to his good character and
reputation and to his professional integrity.

ISSUE: WON Krasner must be suspended due to ambulance chasing even though the proofs constitute only of a testimony.

HELD: YES. The Court find the proof satisfactory and supports the charges and findings against respondent, and are likewise of the opinion that the Canons of
Ethics have been violated and that discipline is warranted. Although canons of ethics adopted by bar associations are not binding obligations, nor enforcible by the
courts as such, they constitute a safe guide for professional conduct and an attorney may be disciplined for not observing them. And while neither the solicitation of
law business nor the division of fees here involved imports venality, fraudulent practices or moral turpitude, they are nevertheless practices which have long been
condemned as a blight upon the legal profession.

Krasner was then SUSPENDED.

In Re: Primus

FACTS: Primus was an attorney for the South Carolina affiliate of the ACLU. South Carolina had a policy of sterilizing certain women as a condition of receiving
welfare. Primus sent letters to women who had been thus sterilized, offering the legal assistance of the ACLU. The South Carolina's Supreme Court disciplinary
board reprimanded Primus for violating South Carolina bar rules against soliciting business. The South Carolina Supreme Court approved the discipline. Primus
appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the discipline, ruling that solicitation of prospective litigants by nonprofit organizations
that engage in litigation as a form of political expression and political association constitutes expressive and associational conduct entitled to First Amendment
The opinion in In re Primus was released the same day as another First Amendment case relating to attorney solicitation Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Ass’n, 436 U.S.
447 (1978), which upheld a ban on attorney solicitation of accident victims within 30 days of the incident. The holdings were distinguished on account of the
political expression and association elements present in Primus and absent in Ohralik.

FACTS: In February 1974, 18-years-olds Carol McClintock and Wanda Lou Holbert were seriously injured when an uninsured motorist hit the vehicle McClintock
was driving in their hometown of Montville, Ohio. When Albert Ohralik, a local attorney, learned of the accident, he visited McClintock in the hospital and offered to
represent her in exchange for a portion of the proceeds collected from her insurer. Ohralik also approached Holbert at her home and obtained her oral assent to
representation, which he secretly tape-recorded. Both women eventually discharged Ohralik and filed grievances with the local bar association, which in turn filed a
formal complaint against Ohralik with the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court of Ohio (Board). The Board found that
Ohralik violated provisions of the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility that banned a lawyer’s in-person solicitation of employment to a non-lawyer and
publicly reprimanded him. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Ohio rejected Ohralik’s claim that his conduct was protected under the First and Fourteenth
Amendments and increased the sanction against Ohralik to indefinite suspension.

ISSUE: Do professional ethics rules for the legal profession that ban in-person solicitation of non-lawyers violate free speech guarantees under the First and
Fourteenth Amendments?

RULING: No. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. delivered the opinion for the 8-0 majority. The Court held that a state may constitutionally discipline a lawyer for soliciting
clients in person and for financial gain under circumstances likely to pose dangers that the state has a right to prevent. The Court further held that the state need
not show actual harm or injury to the solicited clients to sustain a disciplinary action. Unlike other forms of advertising concerning the terms and availability of legal
services, in-person solicitation often exerts pressure upon and requires an immediate response from the recipient, without providing time for comparison or
reflection. Because the Court held that a state has a particularly strong interest in preventing aspects of solicitation that involve fraud, undue influence, intimidation,
and overreach, a state may adopt an outright ban in order to maintain standards in the legal profession.

Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment in which he expressed doubt as to whether the state’s interest in
prohibiting even honest, unpressured commercial solicitation justified the restriction on the free flow of information. Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote a separate
opinion concurring in the judgment in which he agreed that Ohio acted within the limits prescribed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, but argued that the
Court should grant even greater leeway in the ability of state bar associations to regulate the conduct of their members.

FLORENCIO FABILLO v. IAC, GR No. 68838, 1991-03-11

Facts: In her last will and testament dated August 16, 1957, Justina Fabillo bequeathed to her brother, FIorencio, a house and lot in San Salvador Street, Palo,
Leyte which was covered by tax declaration No. 19335

After Justina's death, Florencio filed a petition for the probate of said will. On June 2, 1962, the probate court approved the project of partition "with the reservation
that the ownership of the land declared under Tax Declaration

No. 19335 and the house erected thereon be litigated and determined in a separate proceedings.

Two years later, Florencio sought the assistance of lawyer Alfredo M. Murillo in recovering the San Salvador property. Acquiescing to render his services, Murillo
wrote Florencio the following handwritten letter:

Considering that Atty. Montilla lost this case and the present action is a revival of a lost case, I trust that you will gladly give me 40% of the money value of the
house and lot as a contigent (sic) fee in case of a success.

Issues: The Fabillos herein question the appellate court's interpretation of the... contract of services and contend that it is in violation of Article 1491 of the Civil

Ruling: Article 1491 of the Civil Code, specifically paragraph 5 thereof, prohibits lawyers from acquiring by purchase even at a public or judicial auction, properties
and rights which are the objects of litigation in... which they may take part by virtue of their profession. The said prohibition, however, applies only if the sale or
assignment of the property takes place during the pendency of the litigation involving the client's property.
Hence, a contract between a lawyer and his client stipulating a contingent fee is not covered by said prohibition under Article 1491 (5) of the Civil Code because
the payment of said fee is not made during the pendency of the litigation but only after judgment has been rendered... in the case handled by the lawyer. In fact,
under the 1988 Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer may have a lien over funds and property of his client and may apply so much thereof as may be
necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements.

As long as the lawyer does not exert undue influence on his client, that no fraud is committed or imposition applied, or that the compensation is clearly not
excessive as to amount to extortion, a contract for contingent fee is valid and enforceable.

Yu vs. Bondal, 448 SCRA 273 , January 17, 2005

Administrative Law; Attorneys; Attorneys Fees; An acceptance fee is not a contingent fee, but is not an absolute fee arrangement which entitles a lawyer to get paid
for his efforts regardless of the outcome of the litigation.—If, admittedly, the only payment given to complainant by respondent is the amount of P51,716.54, then
complainant still owes respondent more, as respondent rendered his legal services in 4 out of the 5 cases. An acceptance fee is not a contingent fee, but is an
absolute fee arrangement which entitles a lawyer to get paid for his efforts regardless of the outcome of the litigation. That complainant was dissatisfied with the
outcome of the four cases does not render void the above retainer agreement for respondent appears to have represented the interest of complainant. Litigants
need to be reminded that lawyers are not demi-gods or “magicians” who can always win their cases for their clients no matter the utter lack of merit of the same or
how passionate the litigants may feel about their cause.

Same; Same; Respondent obliged under Rule 22.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility to immediately turn over all papers and property which complainant
entrusted to his successor.—Since respondent had been advised by complainant through counsel Chavez Laureta and Associates, by letter of July 18, 2001, that
she intended to terminate his services, as of said date, he was obliged, under Rule 22.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, x x x to immediately turn over
all papers and property which complainant entrusted to his successor.


FACTS: After their vehicles almost collided with each other, Andres and Appellant had an altercation. Thereafter, Andres went back inside to his car when he was
blocked by the appellant’s son who said, "Anong problema mo sa erpat ko." Andres testified that he felt threatened and so he immediately boarded his vehicle, sat
at the driver’s seat, closed the door, and partially opened the car window just wide enough to talk back to appellant’s son, Dino. In the meantime, appellant, thinking
that Andres was going to get something from his car, took a gun. However, he was pushed by his daughter-in-law which made him lost his balance and accidentally
fired the gun hitting Andres’ wife, and two sons.Appellant was charged and convicted of Murder, Double Frustrated Murder and Attempted Murder in the RTC.
The appellant seeks a reversal and prays that judgment be rendered exempting him from criminal and civil liabilities contending that he had no intention to shoot
Noel Andres much less his wife nor the children. He lost his balance when his daughter Trisha approached and pushed him backwards to stop him from joining Dino
and Noel Andres but the appellant tried to free his right hand holding the gun and it accidentally fired.

ISSUE: Whether or not there was treachery attendant in the crime.

RULING: No. Treachery under par.16 of Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code is defined as the deliberate employment of means, methods or forms in the execution
of a crime against persons which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender arising from the defense which the intended victim
might raise. For treachery to be appreciated two elements must concur: 1) the employment of means of execution that would insure the safety of the accused from
retaliatory acts of the intended victim and leaving the latter without an opportunity to defend himself and 2) the means employed were deliberately or consciously
adopted by the offender.8
We affirm the recommendation of the Solicitor-General that the shooting was not attended by treachery and accordingly the crime committed for the death of Feliber
Andres is homicide and not murder.


In In re R.M.J., 455 U.S. 191 (1982), the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a Missouri ethics rule restricting advertising by lawyers was unconstitutional under
the First Amendment. The Court’s decision reversed a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the ethics rule while issuing a private
reprimand to a lawyer for failing to comply with the advertising restrictions. This is one of several decisions in which the Court has decided the extent to which the
First Amendment protections apply to the regulation of lawyer advertising.

Samonte vs. Gatdula, 303 SCRA 756 , February 26, 1999


Administrative Law; Courts; Court agrees with the investigating judge that the respondent is guilty of an infraction.—We agree with the investigating judge that the
respondent is guilty of an infraction. The complainant, by her failure to appear at the hearings, failed to substantiate her allegation that it was the respondent who
gave her the calling card of “Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera Law Offices” and that he tried to convince her to change counsels. We find however,
that while the respondent vehemently denies the complainant’s allegations, he does not deny that his name appears on the calling card attached to the complaint,
which admittedly came into the hands of the complainant.

Same; Same; The inclusion/retention of his name in the professional card constitutes an act of solicitation which violates Section 7, sub-par. (b)(2) of Republic Act
No. 6713, otherwise known as “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”—Respondent does not claim that the calling card was
printed without his knowledge or consent, and the calling card carries his name primarily and the name of “Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera with
address at 220 Mariwasa Bldg., 717 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City” in the left corner. The card clearly gives the impression that he is connected with the said
law firm. The inclusion/retention of his name in the professional card constitutes an act of solicitation which violates Section 7, sub-par. (b)(2) of Republic Act No.
6713, otherwise known as “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”

Same; Same; The conduct and behavior of every one connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk,
should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility.—Time and again this Court has said that the conduct and behavior of every one connected with an
office charged with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. His
conduct, at all times must not only be characterized by propriety and decorum but above all else must be above suspicion.