Archive | August, 2013
Image

Ninoy Aquino Day 2013

21 Aug

jasmin ninoy

The Legal Profession

18 Aug

bfd3a6_f7b42cca2eb0b8b00126a9f9d832d525.jpg_srz_143_170_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzMany people, if not the entire society, has a somewhat a negative impression of the legal profession.  As the famous saying goes, “lawyers are liars”.  Why do people dub lawyers as liars?  Probably, it is due to the practice of lawyers to defend even those who are obviously guilty.  Or, perhaps people believe that lawyers do lie in order to win cases which are obviously losing.

But did you know that the legal profession is a noble profession and that all lawyers are required to faithfully discharge their duties?

Just like any other profession, the Bar has its own code of ethics to guide lawyers’ conduct in and out of the profession.  We call this code the Code of Professional Responsibility.  Rule 1.01 of the code commands that a lawyer “shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful act; and Canon 7 of the same code demands that a “Lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession”.  But is it not ironic for lawyers to defend the guilty during trial while not engaging in a dishonest or deceitful act?  Yes it is ironic.  However, it is not technically possible.

You see, during trial, there is yet no judgment as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.  Therefore, a lawyer cannot be said to be defending the guilty during trial.  Otherwise, if the defendant is already guilty, where is the sense in indicting him?  Also, even if the case of the client is weak or losing, the lawyer is still duty-bound to give it his best; to exert all efforts to serve justice.  Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that:

A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

Rule 18.01 – A lawyer shall not undertake a legal service which he knows or should know that he is not qualified to render. However, he may render such service if, with the consent of his client, he can obtain as collaborating counsel a lawyer who is competent on the matter.

Rule 18.02 – A lawyer shall not handle any legal matter without adequate preparation.

Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection there with shall render him liable.

Rule 18.04 – A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to client’s request for information.

Are lawyers then liars for serving the client’s inclination for justice?  I think not.  Every client wants justice.  Every single one of them wants to win his case.  The lawyers are just there to assist them in the legal processes.  To mix and match the information supplied by the client with the available laws and then try to apply such laws to advance the client’s cause.  Is that lying?  No.  It is what we call lawyering.

Of course, it is a different story when the lawyer knowingly and willfully acted out on some unlawful and dishonest means just to ensure victory upon verdict; or, when he knowingly assist the client in perpetrating unlawful acts such as fraud for unlawful objectives.  Those are abhorrent act that must not be tolerated.  And indeed, it is not.  Canon 19 provides:

CANON 19 – A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW.

Rule 19.01 – A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding.

Rule 19.02 – A lawyer who has received information that his client has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated a fraud upon a person or tribunal, shall promptly call upon the client to rectify the same, and failing which he shall terminate the relationship with such client in accordance with the Rules of Court.

Rule 19.03 – A lawyer shall not allow his client to dictate the procedure on handling the case.

Even if the lawyer engages a professional employment with the client, receiving remuneration for his services, it does not necessarily follow that the client is the boss.  Although it is the lawyer’s responsibility to protect the client’s interest no matter what, it is only so when the ends are lawful.  A far heavier responsibility of the lawyer is to uphold and obey the laws and to render his allegiance to the courts of justice.  Canon 1 provides:

CANON 1 – A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

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.

Rule 1.03 – A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any man’s cause.

Rule 1.04 – A lawyer shall encourage his clients to avoid, end or settle a controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement.

Lawyering involves the application of laws, upholding the laws, and making sure that the ends of justice is had in every case.  Lawyering is not a matter of lying.  It is a matter of arranging the facts to serve a lawful intention.