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  Canons of Professional Ethics:

In 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 men.

No 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.

1. The duty of the lawyer to the courts

It 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 protected.

2. The selection of judges

It 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.

3. Attempts to exert personal influence of the court

Marked 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.

4. Counsel for an indigent prisoner

A 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.

5. The defense or prosecution of those accused of crime

It 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.

6. Adverse influence and conflicting interests

It 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.

It 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 oppose.

The 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 been reposed.

7. Professional colleagues and conflicts of opinions

A 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.

8. Advising upon the merits of a client's cause

A 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.

9. Negotiations with opposite party

A 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 law.

10. Acquiring interest in litigation

The lawyer should not purchase any interest in the subject matter of the litigation which he is conducting.

11. Dealing with trust property

The 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.

12. Fixing the amount of the fee

In 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.

In 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.

In 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 trade.

13. Contingent fees
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 .

14. Suing a client for a fee

Controversies 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.

15. How far a lawyer may go in supporting a client's cause

Nothing 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.

It is improper for a lawyer to assert in argument his personal belief in his client's innocence or in the justice of his cause.

The 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.

16. Restraining clients from improprieties

A 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.

17. Ill-feelings and personalities between advocates

Clients, 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 carefully avoided.

18. Treatment of witnesses and litigants

A 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.

19. Appearance of lawyer as witness for his client

When 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.

20. Newspaper discussion of pending litigation

Newspaper 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.

21. Punctuality and expedition

It 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.

22. Candor and fairness

The conduct of the lawyer before the court and with other lawyers should be characterized by candor and fairness.

It 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.

It 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.

A 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.

23. Attitude towards jury

All 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.

24. Right of lawyer to control the incidents of the trial

As 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 propriety.

25. Taking technical advantage of opposite counsel; agreement with him

A 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.

26. Professional advocacy other than before courts

A 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.

27. Advertising, direct or indirect

It 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.

Publication 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.

28. Stirring up litigation, directly or through agents

It 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.

29. Upholding the honor of the profession

Lawyers 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

The 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.

31. Responsibility for litigation

No 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 employment.
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.

32. The lawyer's duty in its last analysis

No 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.

33. Partnership - names

Partnerships 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 admitted.

In 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 name.

Partnership 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.

34. Division of fee

No division of fees for legal services is proper, except with another lawyer, based upon a division of service or responsibility.

35. Intermediaries

The 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.

A 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 affairs.

36. Retirement from judicial position or public employment

A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate in any matter upon the merits of which he has previously acted in a judicial capacity.

A 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.

37. Confidence of a client

It 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.

If 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.

38. Compensation, commissions and rebates

A lawyer should accept no compensation, commissions, rebates or other advantages from others without the knowledge and consent of his client after full disclosure.
39. Witness
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.

40. Newspapers

A 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 rights.

41. Discovery of imposition and deception

When 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.

42. Expenses

A 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.

43. Approved law lists

It 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.

44. Withdrawal from employment as attorney or counsel

The 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 earned.

45. Specialists

The 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.

46. Notice of specialized legal service

Where 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.

47. Aiding the unauthorized practice of law

No 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.

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