OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
the Philippines, where the stability of courts and of all departments
of government rests upon the approval of the people, it is peculiarly
essential that the system for establishing and dispensing justice
be developed to a high point of efficiency and so maintained that
the public shall have absolute confidence in the integrity and impartiality
of its administration. The future of the Republic, to a great extent,
depends upon our maintenance of justice pure and unsullied. It cannot
be so maintained unless the conduct and the motives of the members
of our profession are such as to merit the approval of all just
code or set of rules can be framed, which will particularize all
the duties of the lawyer in the varying phase of litigation or in
all the relations of professional life. The following canons of
ethics are adopted by the Philippine Bar Association as a general
guide, yet the enumeration of particular duties should not be construed
as a denial of the existence of others equally imperative, though
not specifically mentioned.
The duty of the lawyer to the courts
is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a respectful
attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial
office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance. Judges,
not being wholly free to defend themselves, are peculiarly entitled
to receive the support of the bar against unjust criticism and clamor.
Whenever there is proper ground for serious complaint of a judicial
officer, it is the right and duty of the lawyer to submit his grievances
to the proper authorities. In such cases, but not otherwise, such
charges should be encouraged and the person making them should be
The selection of judges
is the duty of the bar to endeavor to prevent political considerations
from outweighing judicial fitness in the selection of judges. It
should protest earnestly and actively against the appointment of
those who are unsuitable for the bench; and it should strive to
have elevated thereto only those willing to forego other employments
whether of a business, political or other character, which may embarrass
their free and fair consideration of questions before them for decision.
The aspiration of lawyers for judicial position should be governed
by an impartial estimate of their ability to add to the office and
not by a desire for the distinction the position may bring to themselves.
Attempts to exert personal influence of the court
attention and unusual hospitality on the part of a lawyer to a judge,
uncalled for by the personal relations of the parties, subject both
the judge and the lawyer to misconstructions of motive and should
be avoided. A lawyer should not communicate or argue privately with
the judge as to the merits of a pending cause and deserves rebuke
and denunciation for any device or attempt to gain from a judge
special personal consideration or favor. A self-respecting independence
in the discharge of professional duty, without denial or diminution
of the courtesy and respect due the judge's station, is the only
proper foundation for cordial personal and official relations between
bench and bar.
Counsel for an indigent prisoner
lawyer assigned as counsel for an indigent prisoner ought not to
ask to be excused for any trivial reason and should always exert
his best efforts in his behalf.
The defense or prosecution of those accused of crime
is the right of the lawyer to undertake the defense of a person
accused of crime, regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt
of the accused; otherwise, innocent persons, victims only of suspicious
circumstances, might be denied proper defense. Having undertaken
such defense, the lawyer is bound, by all fair and honorable means,
to present every defense that the law of the land permits, to the
end that no person may be deprived of life or liberty but by due
process of law.
The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not
to convict but to see that justice is done. The suppression of facts
or the secreting of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence
of the accused is highly reprehensible.
Adverse influence and conflicting interests
is a duty of a lawyer at the time of retainer to disclose to the
client all the circumstances of his relations to the parties and
any interest in or connection with the controversy, which might
influence the client in the selection of counsel.
is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by
express consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of
the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer represents
conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is his duty
to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to
obligation to represent the client with undivided fidelity and not
to divulge his secrets or confidence forbids also subsequent acceptance
of retainers or employment from others in matters adversely affecting
any interest of the client with respect to which confidence has
Professional colleagues and conflicts of opinions
client's proffer of assistance of additional counsel should not
be regarded as evidence of want of confidence, but the matter should
be left to the determination of the client. A lawyer should decline
association as colleague if it is objectionable to the original
counsel, but if the lawyer first retained is relieved, another may
come into the case.
When lawyers jointly associated in a cause cannot agree as to any
matter vital to the interest of the client, the conflict of opinion
should frankly stated to him for his final determination. His decision
should be accepted unless the nature of the difference makes it
impracticable for the lawyer whose judgment has been overruled to
cooperate effectivity. In this event it is his duty to ask the client
to relieve him.
Efforts, direct or indirect, in any way to encroach upon the professional
employment of another lawyer are unworthy of those who should be
brethren at the bar; but, nevertheless, it is the right of any lawyer,
without fear or favor, to give proper advice to those seeking relief
against unfaithful or neglectful counsel, generally after communication
with the lawyer against whom the complaint is made.
Advising upon the merits of a client's cause
lawyer should endeavor to obtain full knowledge of his client's
cause before advising thereon, and he is bound to give a candid
opinion of the merits and probable result of pending or contemplated
litigation. The miscarriages to which justice is subject, by reason
of surprises and disappointments in evidence and witnesses, through
mistakes and errors of courts, even though only occasional, admonish
lawyers to beware of bold and confident assurances to clients, especially
where the employment may depend upon such assurance. Whenever the
controversy will admit of fair judgment, the client should be advised
to avoid or to end the litigation.
Negotiations with opposite party
lawyer should not in any way communicate upon the subject of controversy
with a party represented by counsel, much less should he undertake
to negotiate or compromise the matter with him, but should deal
only with his counsel. It is incumbent upon the lawyer most particularly
to avoid everything that may tend to mislead a party not represented
by counsel, and he should not undertake to advise him as to the
Acquiring interest in litigation
lawyer should not purchase any interest in the subject matter of
the litigation which he is conducting.
Dealing with trust property
lawyer should refrain from any action whereby for his personal benefit
or gain he abuses or takes advantage of the confidence reposed in
him by his client.
Money of the client or collected for the client or other trust property
coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and
accounted for promptly and should not under any circumstances be
commingled with his own or be used by him.
Fixing the amount of the fee
fixing fees, lawyers should avoid charges which over estimate their
advice and services, as well as those which undervalue them. A client's
ability to pay cannot justify a charge in excess of the value of
the service, though his poverty may require a less charge, or even
none at all. The reasonable requests of brother lawyers, and of
their widows and orphans without ample means, should receive special
and kindly consideration.
determining the amount of the fees, it is proper to consider: (
1 ) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the
questions involved and the skill required to properly conduct the
cause; (2) whether the acceptance of employment in the particular
case will preclude the lawyer's appearance for others in cases likely
to arise out of the transaction, and in which there is a reasonable
expectation that otherwise he would be employed in the particular
case or antagonisms with other clients; (3) the customary charges
of the bar for similar services; (4) the amount involved in the
controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the services;
(5) the contingency or the certainty of the compensation; and (6)
the character of the employment, whether casual or for an established
and constant client. Not one of these considerations in itself is
controlling. They are mere guides in ascertaining the real value
of the service.
determining the customary charges of the bar for similar services,
it is proper for a lawyer to consider a schedule of minimum fees
adopted by a bar association, but no lawyer should permit himself
to be controlled thereby or to follow it as his sole guide in determining
the amount of his fee.
In fixing fees, it should not be forgotten that the profession is
a branch of the administration of justice and not a mere money-getting
A contract for a contingent fee, where sanctioned by law, should
be reasonable under all the circumstances of the case including
the risk and uncertainty of the compensation, but should always
be subject to the supervision of a court, as to its reasonableness
Suing a client for a fee
with clients concerning compensation are to be avoided by the lawyer
so far as shall be compatible with his self respect and with his
right to receive reasonable recompense for his service; and lawsuits
with the clients should be resorted to only to prevent injustice,
imposition or fraud.
How far a lawyer may go in supporting a client's cause
operates more certainly to create or to foster popular prejudice
against lawyers as a class, and to deprive the profession of that
full measure of public esteem and confidence which belongs to the
proper discharge of its duties than does the false claim. often
set up by the unscrupulous for the defense of questionable transactions,
that it is the duty of the lawyer to do whatever may enable him
to succeed in winning his client's cause.
is improper for a lawyer to assert in argument his personal belief
in his client's innocence or in the justice of his cause.
lawyer owes "entire devotion to the interest of the client,
warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights and the exertion
of his utmost learning and ability," to the end that nothing
be taken or be withheld from him, save by the rules of law, legally
applied. No fear of judicial disfavor or public popularity should
restrain him from the full discharge of his duty. In the judicial
forum the client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy
and defense that is authorized by the law of the land, and he may
expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. But it
is steadfastly to be borne in mind that the great trust of the lawyer
is to be performed within and not without the bounds of the law.
The office of attorney does not permit, much less does it demand
of him for any client, violation of law or any manner of fraud or
chicanery, he must obey his own conscience and not that of his client.
Restraining clients from improprieties
lawyer should use his best efforts to restrain and to prevent his
clients from doing those things which the lawyer himself ought not
to do, particularly with reference to their conduct towards courts,
judicial officers, jurors, witnesses and suitors. If a client persist
in such wrongdoings the lawyer should terminate their relation.
Ill-feelings and personalities between advocates
not lawyers, are the litigants. Whatever may be the ill-feeling
existing between clients, should not be allowed to influence counsel
in their conduct and demeanor toward each other or toward suitors
in the case. All personalities between counsel should be scrupulously
avoided. In the trial of a cause it is indecent to allude to the
personal history or the personal peculiarities and idiosyncrasies
of counsel on the other side. Personal colloquies between counsel
which cause delay and promote unseemly wranglings should also be
Treatment of witnesses and litigants
lawyer should always treat adverse witnesses and suitors with fairness
and due consideration, and he should never minister to the malevolence
or prejudices of a client in the trial or conduct of a cause. The
client can not be made the keeper of the lawyer's conscience in
professional matter. He has no right to demand that his counsel
shall abuse the opposite party or indulge in offensive personalities.
Improper speech is not excusable on the ground that it is what the
client would say if speaking in his own behalf.
Appearance of lawyer as witness for his client
a lawyer is a witness for his client, except as to merely formal
matters, such as the attestation or custody of an instrument and
the like, he should leave the trial of the case to other counsel.
Except when essential to the ends justice, a lawyer should avoid
testifying in behalf of his client.
Newspaper discussion of pending litigation
publication by a lawyer as to pending or anticipated litigation
may interfere with a fair trial in the courts and otherwise the
due administration of justice. Generally, they are to be condemned.
If the extreme circumstances of a particular case justify a statement
to the public, it is unprofessional to make it anonymous. An ex
parte reference to the facts should not go beyond quotation from
the records and papers on file in the court; but even in extreme
cases it is better to avoid an ex parte statement.
Punctuality and expedition
is the duty of the lawyer not only to his client, but also to the
courts and to the public to be punctual in attendance, and to be
concise and direct in the trial and disposition of causes.
Candor and fairness
conduct of the lawyer before the court and with other lawyers should
be characterized by candor and fairness.
is not candid nor fair for the lawyer knowingly to misquote the
contents of a paper, the testimony of a witness, the language or
the argument of opposing counsel, of the language of a decision
or a textbook; or with knowledge of its invalidity, to cite as authority
a decision that has been overruled or a statute that has been repealed,
or in argument to assert as a fact that which has not been proved,
or in those jurisdictions where a side has the opening and closing
arguments to mislead his opponent by concealing or withholding positions
in his opening argument upon which his side then intends to rely.
is unprofessional and dishonorable to deal other than candidly with
the facts in taking the statements of witnesses, in drawing affidavits
and other documents, and in the presentation of causes.
lawyer should not offer evidence which he knows the court should
reject, in order to get the same before the jury by arguments for
its admissibility, nor should he address to the judge arguments
upon any points not properly calling for determination by him. Neither
should he introduce into an argument, addressed to the court, remarks
or statements intended to influence the bystanders.
Attitude towards jury
attempts to curry favor with juries by fawning flattery or pretended
solicitude for their personal comfort are unprofessional. Suggestions
of counsel, looking to the comfort or convenience of jurors, and
propositions to dispense with arguments, should be made to the court
out of the jury's hearing. A lawyer must never converse privately
with jurors about the case; and both before and during the trial
he should avoid communicating with them even as to matters foreign
to the cause.
Right of lawyer to control the incidents of the trial
to incidental matters pending trial, not affecting the merits of
the cause, or working substantial prejudice to the rights of the
client, such as forcing the opposite lawyer to trial when he is
under affliction or bereavement; forcing the trial on a particular
day to the injury of the opposite lawyer when no harm will result
from a trial at different time; agreeing to an extension of time
for signing a bill of exceptions, cross interrogatories and the
like, the lawyer must be allowed to judge. In such matters no client
has a right to demand that his counsel shall be illiberal, or that
he does anything therein repugnant to his own sense of honor and
Taking technical advantage of opposite counsel; agreement with him
lawyer should not ignore known customs or practice of the bar or
of a particular court, even when the law permits, without giving
timely notice to the opposite counsel. As far as possible, important
agreements, affecting the rights of clients, should be reduced to
writing, but it is dishonorable to avoid performance of an agreement
fairly made because it is not reduced to writing, as required by
the Rules of Court.
Professional advocacy other than before courts
lawyer openly, and in his true character may render professional
services before legislative or other bodies, regarding proposed
legislation and in advocacy of claims before departments of government
upon the same principles of ethics which justify his appearance
before courts; but it is unprofessional for a lawyer so engaged,
to conceal his attorneyship, or to employ secret personal solicitations,
or to use means other than those addressed to reason and understanding,
to influence action.
Advertising, direct or indirect
is unprofessional to solicit professional employment by circulars,
advertisements, through touters, or by personal communications or
interviews not warranted by personal relations. Indirect advertisements
for professional employment such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper
comments, or procuring his photograph to be published in connection
with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning
the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved,
the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like-laudation,
offend the traditions and lower the tone of our profession and are
reprehensible; but the customary use of simple professional cards
is not improper.
in reputable law lists in a manner consistent with the standards
of conduct imposed by those canons of brief biographical and informative
data is permissible. Such data must not be misleading and may include
only a statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his professional
associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches
of the profession practiced; date and place of birth and admission
to the bar; schools attended; with dates of graduation, degrees
and other educational distinctions; public or quasi-public offices;
posts of honor; legal authorship; legal teaching positions; memberships
and offices in bar associations and committees thereof, in legal
and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of references;
and, with their written consent, the names of clients regularly
represented. A certificate of compliance with the Rules and Standards
issued by the Special Committee on Law Lists may be treated as evidence
that such list is reputable.
Stirring up litigation, directly or through agents
is unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit,
except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust
make it his duty to do so. Stirring up strife and litigation is
not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common law. It
is disreputable to hunt up defects in titles or other causes of
action and inform thereof in order to be employed to bring suit
or collect judgment, or to breed litigation by seeking out those
with claims for personal injuries or those having any other grounds
of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ agents
or runners for like purposes, or to pay or reward, directly or indirectly,
those who bring or influence the bringing of such cases to his office,
or to remunerate policemen, court or prison officials, physicians,
hospital attaches or others who may succeed under the guise of giving
disinterested friendly advice, in influencing the criminal, the
sick and the injured, the ignorant or others, to seek his professional
services. A duty to the public and to the profession devolves upon
every member of the bar having knowledge of such practices upon
the part of any practitioner immediately to inform thereof, to the
end that the offender may be disbarred.
Upholding the honor of the profession
should expose without fear or favor before the proper tribunal corrupt
or dishonest conduct in the profession, and should accept without
hesitation employment against a member of the bar who has wronged
his client. The counsel upon the trial of a cause in which perjury
has been committed owe it to the profession and to the public to
bring the matter to the knowledge of the prosecuting authorities.
The lawyer should aid in guarding the bar against admission to the
profession of candidates unfit or unqualified because deficient
in either moral character or education. He should strive at all
times to uphold the honor and to maintain the dignity of the profession
and to improve not only the law but the administration of justice.
30. Justifiable and unjustifiable litigations
lawyer must decline to conduct a civil cause or to make a defense
when convicted that it is intended merely to harass or to injure
the opposite party or to work oppression or wrong. But otherwise
it is right, and having accepted retainer, it becomes his duty to
insist upon the judgment of the court as to the legal merits of
his client's claim. His appearance in court should be deemed equivalent
to an assertion on his honor that in his opinion his client's case
is one proper for judicial determination.
Responsibility for litigation
lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or advocate for every
person who may wish to become his client. He has the right to decline
Every lawyer upon his own responsibility must decide what employment
he will accept as counsel, what causes he will bring into court
for plaintiffs, what case he will contest in court for defendants.
The responsibility for advising as to questionable defenses is the
lawyer's responsibility. He cannot escape it but urging as an excuse
that he is only following his client's instructions.
The lawyer's duty in its last analysis
client corporate or individual, however, powerful nor any cause,
civil or political, however important, is entitled to receive nor
should any lawyer render any service or advice involving disloyalty
to the laws whose ministers we are, or disrespect of the judicial
office, which we are bound to uphold, or corruption of any person
or persons exercising a public office or private trust, or deception
or betrayal of the public. When rendering any such improper service
or advice, the lawyer invites and merits stern and just condemnation.
Correspondingly, he advances the honor of his profession and the
best interests of his client when he renders service or gives advice
tending to impress upon the client and his undertaking exact compliance
with the strictest principles of moral law. He must also observe
and advice his client to observe the statute law, though until a
statute shall have been construed and interpreted by competent adjudication
he is free and is entitled to advise as to its validity and as to
what he conscientiously believes to be its just meaning and extent.
But above all a lawyer will find his highest honor in a deserved
reputation for fidelity to private trust and to public duty, as
an honest man and as a patriotic and loyal citizen.
Partnership - names
among lawyers for the practice of their profession are very common
and are not to be condemned. In the formation of partnerships and
the use of partnership names, care should be taken not to violate
any law, custom, or rule of court locally applicable. Where partnerships
are formed between lawyers who are not all admitted to practice
in the courts of the state, care should be taken to avoid any misleading
name or representation which would create a false impression as
to the professional position or privilege of the member not locally
the formation of partnerships for the practice of law no person
should be admitted or held out as practitioner or member who is
not a member of the legal profession duly authorized to practice,
and amenable to professional discipline. In the selection and use
of a firm name, no false, misleading, assumed or trade name should
be used. The continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner,
when permissible by local custom, is not unethical, but care should
be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this
use. When a member of the firm, on becoming a judge, is precluded
from practicing law, his name should not be continued in the firm
between lawyers and members of other professions or non-professional
persons should not be formed or permitted where any part of the
partnership's employment consists of the practice of law.
Division of fee
division of fees for legal services is proper, except with another
lawyer, based upon a division of service or responsibility.
professional services of a lawyer should not be controlled or exploited
by any lay agency, personal or corporate, which intervenes between
client and lawyer. A lawyer's responsibilities and qualifications
are individual. He should avoid all relations which direct the performance
of his duties by or in the interest of such intermediary. A lawyer's
relation to his client should be personal, and his responsibility
should be direct to the client. Charitable societies rendering aid
to the indigents are not deemed such intermediaries.
lawyer may accept employment from any organization, such as an association,
club or trade organization, to render legal services in any matter
in which the organization, as an entity, is interested, but this
employment should not include the rendering of legal services to
the members of such an organization in respect to their individual
Retirement from judicial position or public employment
lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate in any matter
upon the merits of which he has previously acted in a judicial capacity.
lawyer, having once held public office or having been in the public
employ should not, after his retirement, accept employment in connection
with any matter he has investigated or passed upon while in such
office or employ.
Confidence of a client
is the duty of a lawyer to preserve his client's confidences. This
duty outlasts the lawyer's employment and extends as well to his
employees; and neither of them should accept employment, which involves
or may involve the disclosure or use of these confidences, either
for the private advantages of the client, without his knowledge
and consent, and even though there are other available sources of
such information. A lawyer should not continue employment when he
discovers that this obligation prevents the performance of his full
duty to his former or to his new client.
a lawyer is accused by his client, he is not precluded from disclosing
the truth in respect to the accusation. The announced intention
of a client to commit a crime is not included within the confidence
which he is bound to respect. He may properly make such disclosure
as may be necessary to prevent the act or protect those against
whom it is threatened.
Compensation, commissions and rebates
lawyer should accept no compensation, commissions, rebates or other
advantages from others without the knowledge and consent of his
client after full disclosure.
A lawyer may properly interview any witness or prospective witness
for the opposing side in any civil or criminal action without the
consent of opposing counsel or party. In doing so, however, he should
scrupulously avoid any suggestion calculated to induce the witness
to suppress or deviate from the truth, or in any degree to affect
his free and untrammelled conduct when appearing at the trial or
on the witness stand.
lawyer may with propriety write articles for publications in which
he gives information upon the law; but he could not accept employment
from such publication to advice inquiries in respect to their individual
Discovery of imposition and deception
a lawyer discovers that some fraud or deception has been practiced,
which was unjustly imposed upon the court or party, he should endeavor
to rectify it; at first by advising his client, and should endeavor
to rectify it; at first by advising his client, and if his client
refuses to forego the advantage thus unjustly gained, he should
promptly inform the injured person or his counsel, so that they
may take appropriate steps.
lawyer may not properly agree with a client that the lawyer shall
pay or beat the expense of litigation; he may in good faith advance
expenses as a matter of convenience, but subject to reimbursement.
Approved law lists
is improper for a lawyer to permit his name to be published in a
law list the conduct, management or contents of which are calculated
or likely to deceive or injure the public or the profession, or
to lower the dignity or standing of the profession.
Withdrawal from employment as attorney or counsel
right of an attorney or counsel to withdraw from employment, once
assumed, arises only from good cause. Even the desire or consent
of the client is not always sufficient. The lawyers should not throw
up the unfinished task to the detriment of his client except for
reasons of honor or self-respect. If the client insists upon an
unjust or immoral course in the conduct of his case, or if he persists
over the attorney's remonstrance in presenting frivolous defenses,
or if he deliberately disregards an agreement or obligation as to
fees or expenses, the lawyer may be warranted in withdrawing on
due notice to the client, allowing him time to employ another lawyer.
So, also, when a lawyer discovers that his client has no case and
the client is determined to continue it; or even if the lawyer finds
himself incapable of conducting the case effectively. Sundry other
instances may arise in which withdrawal is to be justified. Upon
withdrawal from a case after a retainer has been paid, the attorney
should refund such part of the retainer as has not been clearly
canons of the Philippine Bar Association apply to all branches of
the legal profession; specialist in particular branches are not
to be considered as exempt from the application of these principles.
Notice of specialized legal service
a lawyer is engaged in rendering a specialized legal service directly
and only to other lawyers, a brief, dignified notice of the fact,
couched in language indicating that it is addressed to lawyers,
inserted in legal periodicals and like publications, when it will
afford convenient and beneficial information to lawyers desiring
to obtain such service, is not improper.
Aiding the unauthorized practice of law
lawyer shall permit his professional services, or his name to be
used in aid of, or to make possible, the unauthorized practice of
law by any lay agency, personal or corporate.