By Mitzi Caryl T. Encarnacion JD 1

A lawyer bears obligations far beyond good citizenship’s basic requirements. In fact, as a professional that studied the law, a lawyer should be an inspiration for others to imitate. In other words and in the respect of the law, a lawyer is expected to be a template in the society. One should not in any circumstances circumvent the law by recommending actions that are contrary to the law. Furthermore, a lawyer must not enable a group to violate the law and use his services to protect them when they are arrested.

The aforementioned characteristics are encompassed in Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states that “a lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes.” This canon is further explained with specific rules that dictate what a lawyer shall or shall not do. The first rule speaks about the lawyer’s duty not to engage in unlawful conduct. If a lawyer is guilty of committing such despicable acts, it mirrors his moral indifference to the opinion of a good and respectable member of the community. The case Re: Financial Audit of Atty. Raquel G. Kho, A.M. No. P-06-2177 of June 26, 2006 referred to Canon 1, Rule 1.01 in reprimanding and ordering Atty. Raquel G. Kho to pay a fine when she was found guilty of gross misconduct for her failure to make a timely remittance of judiciary funds in her custody. Her actions were considered as a breach of her oath to obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities and of her duties under the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Canon 1 also speaks about the duty not to counsel illegal activities. The Supreme Court has once stated that it will not denounce criticism made by anyone against the Court for, if well founded, can truly have constructive effects in the task of the Court, but it will not countenance any wrongdoing nor allow the erosion of our people’s faith in the judicial system, let alone, by those who have been privileged by it to practice law in the Philippines (Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, 416 SCRA 465 [2003]). Moreover, In Re: Terrel [G.R. No. 1203. May 15, 1903], Atty. Terrel was found to be guilty of gross misconduct for helping with the creation and serving as attorney for the Centro Bellas Artes Club, an entity designed to circumvent law practice. As an individual practicing law, one must not encourage the despicable ones to find loopholes so that they may prejudice others.

Another rule that falls under this canon is the duty not to encourage lawsuits. Society has painted lawyers as the profession that fancies lawsuits for the sake of it. This, however, is not true. The canon actually speaks of a discouragement with regard to stirring up litigation because it results to a heavy burden upon the courts and the public. Moreover, it can cause more harm than good to the parties in a suit. With this, the fourth rule, which is the duty to encourage amicable settlements come to play. If an issue between two parties can be solved amicably and through a civilized manner, the better it is. A lawyer must act as a mediator rather than an instigator when it comes to matters that can result to serious litigation. This kind of mindset encourages respect between the involved parties and removes a certain level of emotional stress for the lawyer and his client.

The Code of Professional Responsibility serves as an important guide that helps lawyers, especially the new ones, navigate their way in the practice. It may seem like a simple code but it is highly regarded with utmost seriousness. The Supreme Court emphasized that “…no lawyer should ever lose sight of the verity that the practice of the legal profession is always a privilege that the Court extends only to the deserving, and that the Court may withdraw or deny the privilege to him who fails to observe and respect the Lawyer’s Oath and the canons of ethical conduct in his professional and private capacities…” in the decided case of Embido vs. Pe A.C. No. 6732, October 22, 2013 wherein the respondent lawyer was disbarred for falsifying a court decision. The court will most certainly not hesitate to strike off a lawyers’ name from the Roll of Attorneys if one is found guilty of violating the lawyer’s oath in correspondence with this code. A Philippine lawyer must always remember that his role in society is to be the Exemplarman, the Filipino first cousin of Superman. He is in all ways an Exemplar and his powers include aiding in real life problems by using the power of law. As a real life superhero, a lawyer must keep in mind that with great power comes with great responsibility.


Re: Financial Audit of Atty. Raquel G. Kho, A.M. No. P-06-2177

Re: Terrel [G.R. No. 1203. May 15, 1903]

Embido vs. Pe A.C. No. 6732, October 22, 2013

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