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Cardinal Virtues and the Legal Profession

Buddha once said, just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good
deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of
human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue. This pronouncement of
the Buddha captures the importance of virtues in ones life. These virtues which are
indispensable to everyones life can be categorized into four, called the four cardinal virtues.
The four cardinal virtues which have been recognized by great philosophers and theologians
are: Prudence also described as wisdom, the ability to judge between actions with regard to
appropriate actions at a given time; Justice also considered as fairness, the most extensive and
most important virtue; Temperance also known as restraint, the practice of self-control,
abstention, and moderation tempering the appetite; Courage also named fortitude, forbearance,
strength, endurance, and the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation.
These virtues are absolutely necessary to everyone and in every aspect of his life. Prudence for
instance enables a person to discern what particular action should be done in a given situation
particularly if such person is facing seemingly insurmountable problems; it is necessary in order
to avoid negative consequences of wrong choices of actions. Justice which has been defined as
giving another person what is due him such as honesty, dealing in good faith, respect or in
general fairness is needed in a persons interpersonal relation so as to achieve happy, peaceful
relation with others and with the community in general. Temperance is self restraint, this is
needed in order to avoid being enslaved by ones senses, greed or appetite that usually brings
self destruction. A person without temperance usually indulges in worldly things such as
unrestrained appetite in eating, using drugs, sexual activities and other forms of self gratification
that usually boomerang to the person himself with all the negative consequences. Courage is
also indispensable as it is essential to a person for him to be able to face all the uncertainties
and challenges in life, which leads to becoming a better person.
The adherence to the four cardinal virtues is needed in order for the legal profession to maintain
its stability and dignity and to achieve what it aims for. The manifestation of the aims of legal
profession can be found in the lawyers oath and the fourfold duty of a lawyer which every
lawyer must uphold in order to be worthy of being called a true lawyer.
The oath provides:I, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines, I will support the Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the
duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give
aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as
a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity as well to
the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself these voluntary obligations without any
mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God. The taking of an oath is a condition
sine qua non to the practice of legal profession and the adherence thereto is a continuing
requirement for lawyers to maintain their credibility and their profession
7907 December 15, 2010 the Supreme Court emphasized that: lawyers are expected to

maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency and of morality which includes
honesty, integrity and fair dealing. They must perform their four-fold duty to society, the legal
profession, the courts and their clients in accordance with the values and norms of the legal
profession, as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. Any conduct found wanting
in these considerations, whether in their professional or private capacity, shall subject them to
disciplinary action.
The fourfold duty of the lawyer is embodied in the Code of Professional Resposibilty. His duty to
society requires among others: A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land
and promote respect for law and for legal processes; A lawyer shall make his legal services
available in an efficient and convenient manner compatible with the independence, integrity and
effectiveness of the profession. The lawyers duty to the legal profession is shown by candor,
fairness courtesy and truthfulness, avoiding encroachment to the in the business of other
lawyers and uphold the honor of legal profession. The duty to the courts requires him to defend
against criticisms, uphold authority and dignity obey order and processes, and assist in the
administration of justice. And the duty to the client needs the entire devotion to the clients
This lawyers oath as well as the four-fold duty of lawyers are the criteria for every action made
by a lawyer not just in his professional capacity but in his private capacity as well. However,
adherence to these duties are impossible without the four cardinal virtues, which gives a lawyer
the proper discernment to do what is right; the fair treatment towards the court, his colleagues,
clients and society, the self control in order to have the right attitude and disposition for the
fulfillment of his duties and the strength to do all these without favor or fear. In other words
before a lawyer may truly fulfill his duties in legal profession the virtues of wisdom, justice,
temperance and courage must first be acquired. To have these four cardinal virtues first, the
aims of the legal profession whatever it may be would just necessarily follow.