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University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS Questions Asked More Than Once (QuAMTO 2017) *QUAMTO is a compilation of past bar questions with answers as suggested by UPLC and other distinct luminaries in the academe, and updated by the UST Academics Committee to fit for the 2017 Bar Exams. *Bar questions are arranged per topic in accordance
    University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS   Questions Asked More Than Once (QuAMTO 2017)   * QUAMTO is a compilation of past bar questions with answers as suggested by UPLC and other distinct luminaries in the academe, and updated by the UST Academics Committee to fit for the 2017 Bar Exams. *Bar questions are arranged per topic in accordance with the bar syllabus released by the Supreme Court and were selected based on their occurrence on past bar examinations from 1987 to 2016.     A CADEMICS C OMMITTEE   C  AMILLE  A NGELICA B.   G ONZALES  S ECRETARY G ENERAL  E MNIE V  ALERIE B.   D URAN  I RVIN L.   P  ALANCA  L  ARA N ICOLE T.   G ONZALES  M  ARIELLA  A.   M  ARASIGAN  E XECUTIVE C OMMITTEE  C  AMILLE  A NGELICA B.   G ONZALES  L  AYOUT AND D ESIGN   QUAMTO   C OMMITTEE M EMBERS   J  ACKIELYN K  RYSTYL N IHAMA B  ANA  K   ARL  A NTHONY B ULAONG  M ERVIN M  ARCOS  K  ELLY  A NN R UBIN  N ESTOR F ERNANDO S IAZON   A TTY  .    A L C ONRAD B.   E SPALDON   A DVISER    QUAMTO  (1987-2016) 1 LEGAL ETHICS Q : What do you understand by Legal Ethics? Discuss its importance and state its sources.    A: Legal ethics is that branch of moral science which treats of the duties that an attorney owes to the court, to his client, to his colleagues, in the profession, and to society.   The sources of legal ethics are the Constitution, the Rules of Court, some particular provisions of statutes, the Code of Professional Responsibility and Judicial decisions. Legal ethics is important in order to maintain a high moral standard for the lawyer in performing his duties as an officer of the court, his duties to his client, to the members of the legal profession as well as to society. Lawyers wield so much power and influence in society. Unless their acts are regulated by high norms of ethical conduct they are likely to abuse them. PRACTICE OF LAW (RULE 138) Definition of the practice of law (2005, 1995) Q :  Atty. Yabang was suspended as a member of the Bar for period of one (1) year. During the period of suspension, he was permitted by his law firm to continue working in their office, drafting and preparing pleadings and other legal documents, but was not allowed t  o come into direct contact with the firms’ clients. Atty. Yabang was subsequently sued for illegal practice of law. Would the case prosper? Explain. (2005 Bar)  A:  The Supreme Court has defined the practice of law as any activity in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal principle, practice or procedure and calls for legal knowledge, training and experience ( Cayetano vs. Monsod,  201 SCRA 210 [1991] ). Based on this definition, the acts of Atty. Yabang of preparing pleadings and other legal documents would constitute practice of law. More so, if his activities are for the benefit of his law firm, because the employment of a law firm is the employment of all the members thereof. The case against him will prosper.  ALTERNATIVE ANSWER: The traditional concept of practice of law requires the existence of a lawyer-client relationship as a requisite. Pursuant to this concept, inasmuch as Atty. Yabang was not allowed by his law firm to come into direct contact with the firm’s clients during the period of his suspension, he cannot be considered as having engaged in illegal practice of law. . The case against him will not prosper. Q : Evelyn, Luisa. Myra, Josefina, Pamela and Rose are bona fide members of the Philippine bar. They agree to form a close corporation to be named LEGALCARE the principal purpose of which is “to provide clients legal services, research and advice as well as trial advocacy for a fee. The services shall be rendered not only by these enterprising pioneers of LEGALCARE but also by lawyers to be employed by the projected corporation on regular monthly salary basis. May LEGALCARE be legally incorporated? Discuss fully. (1995 Bar)    A:   A corporation cannot engage in the practice of law even by hiring lawyers to perform legal work. It has been held that only a natural person can engage in the practice of law. A lawyer is burdened with peculiar duties and responsibilities. A corporation cannot take an oath of office, be an officer of the court or subjected to court discipline: it cannot engage in law practice directly, it cannot evade the requirements by employing competent lawyers to practice for it. (Matter of Cooperative Law Co., N.Y. 579). Hence, LEGALCARE cannot be legally incorporated because the principal purpose involves the practice of law.   Practice of law is a privilege, not a right Q : Is the practice of law a right or a privilege? Discuss fully. (1995 Bar)    A:   The practice of law is basically a privilege because it is limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. ( 5 Am. Jur.  270 ) Thus, 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. Attorneys are the court’s constituency - to aid it in the administration of justice. ( Dodge v. State, 38 NE 745  )   Law as a profession, not a business or trade (2015, 2013, 2006, 1997) Q : Why is law a profession and not a trade? (2006 Bar)    A:   Law is a profession and not a trade because its basic ideal is to render public service and secure justice for those who seek its aid. The gaining of a livelihood is only a secondary consideration.   Q : You are the managing partner of a law firm. A new foreign airline company, recently granted rights by the Civil Aeronautics Board at the NAIA, is scouting for a law firm which could handle its cases in the Philippines and provide legal services to the company and its personnel. After discussing with you the extent of the legal services your law firm is prepared to render, the general manager gives you a letter-proposal from another law firm in which its time-billing rates and professional fees for various legal services are indicated. You are asked to submit a similar letter-proposal stating your firm's proposed fees. The airline company's general manager also tells you that, if your proposed fees would at least be 25 per cent lower than those proposed by the other firm, you will get the company's legal business. How would you react to the suggestion? (1997 Bar)    A:   I will emphasize to the General Manager that the practice of law is a profession and not a trade. Consequently, I will not propose a lower fee just for the sake of competing with another firm. Because such practice smacks of commercialism. Moreover, Rule 2. 04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall not charge rates lower than those customarily prescribed unless the circumstances so warrant. I will charge fees that will be reasonable under the circumstances.   Q :  As a new lawyer, Attorney Novato started with a practice limited to small claims cases, legal counseling,   LEGAL ETHICS QUAMTO  UST BAR OPERATIONS Legal and Judicial Ethics 2 and notarization of documents. He put up a solo practice law office and was assisted by his wife who served as his secretary/helper. He used a makeshift hut in a vacant lot near the local courts and a local transport regulatory agency. With this strategic location, he enjoyed heavy patronage assisting walk-in clients in the preparation and filing of pleadings and in the preparation and notarization of contracts and documents, and charges a reasonable fee for the service. He draws electric power from an extension wire connected to an adjoining small restaurant. He put up a shingle that reads: “Atty. Novato, Specialist in Small Claims, Fastest in Notarization; the Be stand Cheapest in Copier Services.”   Is Atty. Novato’s manner of carrying out his professional practice – i.e., mixing business with the practice of law, announcing his activities via a shingle and locating his office as above-described –  in keeping with appropriate ethical and professional practice? (2013 Bar)  A: No . Atty. Novato’s manner of carrying out his professional practice is not in keeping with appropriate ethical and professional practice. He has degraded the law profession, which may result to loss of respect to lawyers as a whole. The use of a makeshift hut standing alone would create the impression that the lawyer does not have a permanent address which is required to be stated in all pleadings he signs as well as required to be shown in documents he notarizes. His shingle shows that he has considered the law profession as a business. He should have a separate shingle for his copier services business. When he included in his shingle the phrases “Specialist in Small Claims” and “Fastest in Notarization,”  he has transgressed the rule that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only dignified information or statement of facts ( Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 3 ). So also the norm that a lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any misleading, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services ( Ibid., Canon 3, Rule 3.01 ). The use of the phrases “Specialist in Small Claims”  and “Fastest in Notarization”  is misleading advertisement because they are likely to create an unjustified expectation about the results the lawyer can achieve or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by improper means (  ABA Model Rule 7.1.b ). Q : Cite some of the characteristics of the legal profession which distinguish it from business. (2015 Bar)    A: The primary characteristics which distinguish the legal profession from a business are: 1.   a duty of public service of which emolument is a by-product and in which one may attain the highest eminence without making much money; 2.   a relation as officer of the court to the administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability; 3.   a relation to client in the highest degree fiduciary; 4.   a relation to colleagues characterized by candor, fairness and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and encroachment on their, or dealing directly with their clients ( In Re Sycip, 92 SCRA 1 ). Qualifications for admission to the Bar (2004, 2013, 1997, 2005) Q : Upon learning from newspaper reports that bar candidate Vic Pugote passed the bar examinations. Miss  Adorable immediately lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court, praying that Vic Pugote be disallowed from taking the oath as a member of the Philippine Bar because he was maintaining illicit sexual relations with several women other than his lawfully wedded spouse. However, from unexplained reasons, he succeeded to take his oath as a lawyer. Later, when confronted with Miss Adorable’s complaint formally, Pugote moved for its dismissal on the ground that it is already moot and academic. Should Miss Adorable’s complaint be dismissed or not? Explain briefly. (2004 Bar)    A: It should not be dismissed. Her charge involves a matter of good moral character which is not only a requisite for admission to the Bar, but also a continuing condition for remaining a member of the Bar. As such, the admission of Vic Pugote to the Bar does not render the question moot and academic.   Q : Miguel Jactar, a fourth year law student, drove his vehicle recklessly and hit the rear bumper of Simplicio Medroso’s vehicle. Instead of stopping, Jactar accelerated and sped away. Medroso pursued Jactar and caught up with him at an intersection. In their confrontation, Jactar dared Medroso to sue, bragged about his connections with the courts, and even uttered veiled threats against Medroso. During the police investigation that followed, Medroso learned that Jactar was reviewing for the Bar examinations. Under these facts, list and justify the potential objections that can be made against Jactar’s admission to the practice of law. (2013 Bar)    A: The potential objection that can be made against Jactar’s  admission to the practice of law is the absence of good moral character ( Rules of Court, Rule 138, Sec. 2 ). Jactar’s bragging about his connection with the courts and uttering veiled threats against Medroso are indications of his lack of good moral character. His acts are contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals ( In re Basa, 41 Phil.  276 ). He has acted in a manner that has violated the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man ( Tak Ng v. Republic, G.R. No. L-13017, 106 Phil. 730, December 23, 1959 ). NOTE : Any answer which explains the nature of absence of good moral character should be given full credit. The following additional objection should not result to a deduction nor should an absence of the additional objection also result to a deduction. a.   If light threats would be filed against him, then another potential objection would be the pendency of charges against him, involving moral turpitude ( Rules of Court, Rule 138, Sec. 2 ).
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