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While growing up, it has been said that lawyers will not go to heaven because they
lie. Many said that even if the lawyer knew the person is guilty, he still defends him. Others
have even quipped that lawyers are corrupt and greedy.
This is in contrast to what was taught in school, when I became a law student years
In Legal Profession and most especially in Legal Ethics, students were taught that
the law profession is a noble profession, if not the noblest profession. When my law
professor said these words, my admiration to lawyers as a child was instantly renewed.
In fact, I have always viewed lawyers with respect, dignity, and integrity. I saw them, not
as persons who earn insane amounts of money, but more of as individuals who possess
a sense of justice, honor, and honesty.
By sudden jolt of electricity, the wide difference of my personal view and the public
perception to the law profession struck me.
Upon entering law school, I am already in a point of no return path to finish my
legal education. No words could ever change my mind that lawyering is something I see
myself doing for the rest of my life. However, it pains me to hear from people saying that
lawyers are liars. By making web of intricate lies, it is only then that a lawyer can win a
case. Worse, they consider lawyers as immoral for defending the real perpetrator of the
crime and striving to win the case despite knowing such fact.
So in the spirit of scholarship, this paper deals with this common issue by the
general public about lawyers. This work will shed light to this old public perception about
lawyers and reconcile this with the Supreme Court pronouncements as to the nobility of
the legal profession.
To solve the problem presented, this paper will discuss ethics as defined in
relation to lawyering, as well as the definition of the legal profession. The problem area

in legal ethics shall be presented with a discussion to reconcile the ethical issues with
the mandate to lawyers to serve people from all walks of life.

Legal Ethics
Legal Ethics denotes that body principles by which the conduct of members of the
legal profession is controlled. It is a branch of moral science which treats of the duties
which an attorney at law owes to his clients, to the courts, to the bar, and to the public.1
Ethics is a word derived from the Greek ethikos which refers to customs. Websters
Dictionary had it that the Greek word was translated to Latin as moralis. It is therefore
concluded that the terms ethics and moral were, at some point of human history,
In Ethics (1994) the philosopher Peter Singer provides an exhaustive definition of
The word itself is sometimes used to refer to the set of rules,
principles, or ways of thinking guide, or claim authority to guide, the
actions of a particular group; and sometimes it stands for the
systematic study of reasoning about how we ought to act.
Combing ethics with the legal profession, it is to be understood as rules and
principles of morality and refinement which will govern the conduct of every member of
the bar. In fact, it is Legal Ethics that primarily distinguishes the legal profession from an
ordinary commercial undertaking.
For ethical considerations, the law profession is not a trade nor a craft but a
profession. The basic ideal of lawyering is to render public service and secure justice to
those who seek its aid. But achieving such ideal is made difficult by the intense
commercialism in the all fields of human endeavor.
Hence, lawyers are constantly hounded by the challenge to strike a balance
between the demand of continuous adherence to the ethical and professional standards
and to provide food for his familys survival.

G.A. Malcolm, Legal and Judicial Ethics 8 (1949)

Legal Profession
The practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. 2 It is to give
notice or render any kind of service, which derive or service requires the use in any degree
of legal knowledge or skill.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Padilla defined the practice of law as a means to
exercise or pursue an employment of profession, actively and habitually. Simply put, to
practice law there must be continuity or succession of acts where one is compensated for
the application of law, legal principles, and procedure characterized by an attorney-client
Guided by ethical standards, the legal profession is a duty of public service. It is a
form of public trust where the performance of which is entrusted only to those who are
qualified to possess good moral character.3 Moreover, the relationship of lawyers to
clients is in the highest degree fiduciary, involving thorough sincerity, integrity, and
These characteristics make the legal profession a noble profession. In fact, the
Supreme Court of the Philippines has repeatedly ruled in various decisions that the legal
profession is indeed a noble profession, not a trade or money-making business.
If the legal profession, as viewed by the Supreme Court, is one of the noblest
profession then how come the public perception says otherwise? Looking at lawyers as
lying bastards is surely in contrary to the high emphasis given to ethical standards in the
law practice.
The answer may be found in ethics. While ethical standards made the legal
profession noble, it is also the very reason why people perceive lawyers otherwise. Ethics,
a body of principles of what is right and wrong, dictates that making lies is wrong.


Cayetano v. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210 (1991)

Justice Nicolas Lapena, Jr., Legal and Judicial Ethics

Moreover, ethics dictates that defending a person believed to have committed a wrongful
act is defying social norms.

Problem Area in Legal Ethics

Lying for the sake of winning a case for his client is the problem in legal ethics that
directly relates to how the public see lawyers in general. So the question that begs an
answer here is: are lawyers allowed to lie to defend a client in court?
The answer lies in the Code of Professional Responsibility, the sort of bible for the
ethical conduct of lawyers in the practice of the profession. Canon 10 of the code
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to
the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court
to be misled by any artifice.
Rule 10.02 - A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent
the contents of a paper, the language or the argument of opposing
counsel, or the text of a decision or authority, or knowingly cite as
law a provision already rendered inoperative by repeal or
amendment, or assert as a fact that which has not been proved.
Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall
not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.
From the above-stated canon, it is therefore clear that lawyers are not allowed to
lie, mislead, misuse, misquote or misrepresent in order to defend his client. As a matter
of fact, doing otherwise would make the erring lawyer liable for violating the ethical
standards expected from a member of the bar. His liabilities may include reprimand, stern
warning, indefinite suspension, and his name be stricken off of the roll of attorneys,
depending on the gravity and celerity of the offense committed.
On a more specific note, a lawyer is not only an advocate for his or her client, but
also an officer of the court. An officer of the court is a person that has an interest in making

sure that the court process functions as it should. As officers of the court, lawyers are
duty and honor bound to not mislead or lie to the court and to take that duty seriously.
A lawyer also has an ethical duty to represent his or her client to the fullest extent
of the law. For a criminal defense lawyer for instance, that means exploring every
possibility, option, and avenue of inquiry that police may have neglected or have
otherwise been unable to follow. It also means scrutinizing the actions of the police
officers to make sure that they acted within the boundaries of the law when dealing with
an accused. This task is not easy. Being a lawyer requires a bit more finesse, skill, and
critical thinking than weaving together lies for the court.
The public perception that lawyers do lie is also deeply entrenched in instances
where lawyers accept the responsibility of representing a client believed by the public as
already guilty. While it is a well-accepted rule that an offender or accused is presumed
guilty unless proven in court, it could not be helped that one is already being tried by
public opinion.
This is true in most high profile cases like the Maguindanao massacre and the
nationally televised impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. The public
opinion is so against the respective accused that lawyers who represented them in court
trials are somewhat painted as lawyers paid with large sum of money just to make lies.
Why would lawyers defend a person who appears to be the real perpetrator, or
even when all the pieces of evidence presented point to him as the perpetrator? This is
answered by the provisions of Section 20, Rule 18 of the Rules of Court, which states:
Sec. 20. Duties of attorneys. - It is the duty of an attorney:
(h) Never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself, the
cause of the defenseless or oppressed;
(i) In the defense of a person accused of crime, by all fair and
honorable means, regardless of his personal opinion as to the
guilt of the accused, to present every defense that the law

permits, to the end that no person may be deprived of life or

liberty, but by due process of law.
This requirement to lawyers under the Rules of Court has been reiterated in Canon
2 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:
Rule 2.01 - A lawyer shall not reject, except for valid reasons, the
cause of the defenseless or the oppressed.
Rule 2.02 - In such cases, even if the lawyer does not accept a case,
he shall not refuse to render legal advice to the person concerned if
only to the extent necessary to safeguard the latter's rights.
The provisions of the Rules of Court use the word never on its mandate to lawyers
pertaining to any form of rejection. Likewise, the Code of Professional Responsibility uses
shall not which was followed by the qualification except for valid reasons.
Applying the rules on statutory construction, it is thus safe to conclude that the
order to lawyers to accept the cause of any individual is mandatory. Simply put, the law
and the Supreme Court frown upon the rejection of a lawyer when a person asked him
for help. However, as exceptions are provided therein, it is imperative for the rejecting
lawyer to establish and prove the justifiable and reasonable reasons behind his refusal.
Thus, lawyers are ethically bound to zealously represent all clients, those whom
they think will be justly found guilty as well as those whom they think are factually
innocent. A vigorous defense is necessary to protect the innocent and to ensure that
judges have the ultimate power to decide who is guilty of a crime. This is to give effect to
the well-settled rule in our court system that lawyers are not trier of facts. Such is the
bounden duty of the court judges.

In truth, the lawyer almost never really knows whether the defendant is guilty of a
charged crime. Just because the defendant says he did it does not make it so.
The defendant may be lying to take the rap for someone he wants to protect, or
may be guilty, but only of a different and lesser crime than the one being prosecuted. A
defendant may have done the act in question, but the client may have a valid defense
that would exonerate him. For these reasons, among others, defense lawyers often do
not ask their clients if they committed the crime. Instead, a lawyer uses the facts to put
on the best defense possible and leaves the question of guilt to the judge or jury.
As such, it must be put into emphasis that as provided by the Rules of Court and
the Code of Professional Responsibility, it is the intention of the law to stress the
importance of the lawyers duty to defend the defenseless. Lawyers are bound by law to
defend someone despite their personal opinion whether he committed the acts
complained of or not, and that public opinion suggests that he is guilty.


Premises considered, it is highly untrue that lawyers are liars. As a matter of fact,
the legal profession does not tolerate falsehood. There may be some who employ such
means but it does not mean that all lawyers lie or the legal profession as a whole tolerates
such acts.
That lawyers do not defend persons whom others might view or even believed to
be the real perpetrator of the acts complained of just because of money. Lawyers are
mandated by law and the Code of Professional Responsibility to defend any man, be it
the victim or the accused, within the bounds of law so that no right could be waived or be
taken away without due process of law. The lawyer's personal opinion on whether the
accused did the said act complained of or not should be set aside and he provide services
needed to ascertain the truth.
Finally, that lawyers use technicalities not to frustrate justice nor to delay it but they
are used because lawyers are given the power to use all the legal means necessary to
prove the cause of their client and that includes technicalities.