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Aung, Daisy Chris DV.

Lumampao, Gelyn
Soria, Philamie Joy O.
PALE 2015

A Lawyer as an Agent
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------A lawyer is an agent of his client in transactional settings as well as in litigation. In like manner, a
lawyer who is a member of a law firm acts as an agent of the firm in firm related activity.
Practice of law is a profession not a business.
While it is common practice for law firms to collect commensurate fees for its legal services the
commercializations of law practice is condemned in certain Canons of Professional Ethics
adopted by the American Bar Association and by our own jurisdiction.
I. Name of a deceased partner in the Firm name
Canon 3. Rule 3.02. - In the choice of a firm name, no false, misleading or assumed name
shall be used. The continued use of the name of a deceased partner is permissible provided
that the firm indicates in all its communications that said partner is deceased.

A group of lawyers who desires to establish a partnership for general practice of law may adopt
a firm name. No name not belonging to any of the partners or associates may be used in the
firm name for any purpose.
If a partner died, and the continued used of the name is desired by the surviving partner, the
name of the decease may still be used provided, in all communications of the law frim, there is
an indication that said partner is already dead.

II. Name of Partner should be Dropped from the Firm Name when He Accepts Public
Office
Canon 3. Rule 3.03. - Where a partner accepts public office, he shall withdraw from the firm
and his name shall be dropped from the firm name unless the law allows him to practice law
concurrently.

law

When a member of the firm, on becoming judge is precluded from practicing law, his
name should not be continued in the firm name (Canon 33, CPE).
Some other officers not allowed to practice law are the President of the Philippines,
Members of the Constitutional Commission, Members of the Congress, Members of the
Cabinet, Members of the Judicial and Bar Council,Governors, Mayors, Prosecutors,
Solicitors and others specially disqualified by law or regulations. If they belonged to a
firm before, their name must be dropped therefrom upon assumption of their public
positions which do not allow concurrent practice of law.
Exception: Sanggunian member who is allowed to practice law subject to certain
restrictions (RA 7160, Section 90).

Aung, Daisy Chris DV.


Lumampao, Gelyn
Soria, Philamie Joy O.
PALE 2015

To prevent the law firm or partners from making use of the name of the public official to
attract legal business and to avoid suspicion of undue influence (Report of IBP
Committee, p.16)
Sec 8, Art 9 B, 1987 Philippine Constitution

" No elective or appointive public officer or employee shall receive additional, double or
indirect compensation, unless specifically authorized by law, nor accept without the consent of
Congress, any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind from any foreign government."

III. Duties of the Lawyers

Canon 2, Rule 2.03 of the 1988 Code of Professional Responsibility specifically provides that a
lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal
business(Remove)*******

Rule 9.02 C A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons
not licensed to practice law, except:

a) Where there is a pre-existing agreement with a partner or associate that, upon the
latter's death, money shall be paid over a reasonable period of time to his estate or to
persons specified in the agreement; or
b) Where a lawyer undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased
lawyer; or
c) Where a lawyer or law firm includes non-lawyer employees in a retirement plan even if
the plan is based in whole or in part, on a profit sharing agreement.

The formation of a law partnership with a layman is an illegal practice of law. (Id., citing Tan Tek
Beng v. David, 126 SCRA 389)

IV. Dissolution of Law Firm


Dissolution of a law firm or a law partnership does not terminate the relation and
obligations of the firm/partners to the clients who have previously engaged the
partnership to represent them (7 C.J.S. 947)

Aung, Daisy Chris DV.


Lumampao, Gelyn
Soria, Philamie Joy O.
PALE 2015

V. Death of a Partner Does not Extinguish The Client-Lawyer Relationship With


the Law Firm
When a client employs the services of a law firm, he does not employ the services of the
lawyer who is assigned to personally handle the case he employs the entire law firm.
Hence, when the counsel appearing for the client died of resigns, the firm is bound to
provide a replacement.
Law firms with more than one lawyer always should have provisions for what happens to
handle client matters if a lawyer passes away or becomes incapacitated for an extended
period of time.
In the case of B.R. Sebastian Enterprises Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 206 SCRA 28, the
Supreme Court ruled that since the petitioner's counsel was the law firm of BAIZAS,
ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES and not merely Atty Crispin Baizas, the death of the latter did not
extinguish the lawyer-client relationship between said firm and petitioner. With Baiza's death,
the responsibility of Atty. Alberto and his Associates to the petitioner as counsel remained
until withdrawal by the former of their appearance in the manner provided by the Rules of
Court. This is because bit was the law firm which handled the case for petitioner before both
the trial and appellate courts.

VI. What are the duties of a lawyer who switch firms or when a firm dissolves?

1. To inform clientele. A departing lawyer has the duty to communicate the circumstance to

clients whom he made representation previously or currently. Lawyers must keep clients
informed so that clients may make informed decisions about what they may want to do.
The preferred method of advising firm clients about the impending departure of an
attorney is a joint letter from the firm and departing lawyer to all clients with whom the
lawyer had significant personal contacts. Such a letter should advise the clients:
When the lawyer is leaving
The client has the option of going with the lawyer, staying with the firm, or getting a new
firm
How any advance fee deposit will be treated
A place for the client to sign and return the letter, with instructions on where their file
should go. This letter should be sent prior to the lawyers departure and should be
calendared to assure that written responses are received from all clients.

Aung, Daisy Chris DV.


Lumampao, Gelyn
Soria, Philamie Joy O.
PALE 2015

2. Clienteles money held in trust by departing lawyer will be taken by the client should they

decide to go with the departing lawyer. The old firm should write a check, consistent with the
written instructions of the client, to either the client or to the trust account for the departed
lawyers new firm.

3. Files pertaining to the client must be turned over to the lawyer who he/she chooses

The clients interests must not be prejudiced when the attorney/client relationship is
terminated. Also, it is appropriate to request in a litigation matter that the departed lawyer
file a substitution of counsel or at least notification of address change with the court, to
assure that the old firm is still not listed as counsel of record.

4. Fiduciary Duties to the Firm. Partners and Associates Leaving Must Abide By Fiduciary Duties

to Firm. Lawyers who are leaving a firm have certain fiduciary duties to the firm to not interfere
with the contracts that the firm has with existing clients, to not use firm resources to set up their
new firm, and to not attempt to steal away associates and staff while the lawyers are still
working for the firm.

5. Confidentiality of client identities. A lawyer who had switched firm must not disclose the

names of their clients to anyone outside of the current firm unless the clients authorized it

VII. Negligence of A Member In the Law Firm is Negligence of the Firm


When the counsel of record is the Law Firm, the negligence of the lawyer assigned to
the case consisting in his leaving for abroad without notifying his colleageus is negligence of the
Law Firm (Antonio vs Court of Appeals, 153 SCRA 592).

Rule 21.02. - A lawyer may disclose the affiars of a client of the firm to partners or associates
thereof unless prohibited by the client.

If a client engaged a law firm as counsel, and a lawyer of the firm is assigned to the
case, the lawyer may disclose the affairs of the client to the partners or associates
unless the client has prohibited the lawyer from doing so.

Aung, Daisy Chris DV.


Lumampao, Gelyn
Soria, Philamie Joy O.
PALE 2015
Rule 18.03. - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in
connection therewith shall render him liable

If by reason of the lawyer's negligence, actual loss has been caused to his client, the
latter has a cause of action against him for damages (5 Am. Jur. 223). However, for the
lawyer to be held lieable, his failure to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence must
be the proximate cause of the loss (7 C.J.S. 980).

Canon 34 - Prohibits an agreement to pay the heirs of a deceased lawyer of a percentage of


the fees received from future clients of an already deceased partner. It is prohibited to divide
attorney's fees with non lawyers.
VIII. Applicability of Command Responsibility In Law Firm Practitioners
Solatan vs. Inocentes 466 SCRA 1

The Supreme Court held that the failure of a senior lawyer to exercise certain
responsibilities over matters under the charge of his law firm is a blameworthy
shortcoming. While the term command responsibility has special meaning within the
circle of men in uniform in the military, the principle does not abide solely therein. The
name of practitioner of the law office is tasked with the responsibility to make reasonable
efforts to ensure that all lawyers in the firm should act in conformity to the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
Partners and practitioners who hold supervisory capacities are legally responsible to
exert ordinary diligence in apprising themselves of the comings and goings of the cases
handled by the persons over which they are exercising supervisory authority and in
exerting necessary efforts to foreclose the occurrence of violations of the Code of
Professional Responsibility by persons under their charge.