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Ulep v. Legal Clinic, Inc.

belied by respondent's own description of the services it has been


Rule 2.03 | June 17, 1993 | Regalado, J offering.
While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation
Nature of Case: Original Petition in the SC merely involve mechanical and technical know-how, such as the
Petitioner: Mauricio Ulep installation of computer systems and programs for the efficient
Respondent: The Legal Clinic, Inc. management of law offices, or the computerization of research aids and
materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.
SUMMARY: Petitioner avers that the advertisements reproduced are It is palpably clear that respondent corporation gives out legal
champertous, unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is
the confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more apparent than real.
and that, as a member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and offended by In providing information, for example, about foreign laws on marriage,
the said advertisements. Respondent admits the fact of publication of said divorce and adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court that all that
advertisements at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice respondent corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy
of law but in the rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore
the use of modern computers and electronic machines. It is clear that services offered by respondent fall within the ambit of the
practice of law. And only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar
DOCTRINE: The services offered by respondent include various legal and who is in good and regular stading is entitled to practice law.
problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from simple
documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most of
these services are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of ISSUE/S & RATIO:
law. Only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar and who is in good 1. WON the services offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as
and regular standing is entitled to practice law. advertised by it constitutes practice of law and, in either case, whether
the same can properly be the subject of the advertisements herein
FACTS: complained of YES
Mauricio C. Ulep, petitioner, prays for the Court "to order the The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law and such practice is not
respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., to cease and desist from issuing allowed. Respondent is composed mainly of paralegals; the services it offers
advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of Annexes `A' and include various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services
`B' (of said petition) and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from from simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate
making advertisements pertaining to the exercise of the law profession undertakings. Most of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of
other than those allowed by law. paralegals, but rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the
Petitioner avers that the advertisements reproduced are champertous, practice of law. Under Philippine jurisdiction however, the services being
unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of the offered by Legal Clinic which constitute practice of law cannot be performed
confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar and who
and that, as a member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
offended by the said advertisements.
Respondent admits the fact of publication of said advertisements at its
instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the RULING: The Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN The Legal Clinic, Inc., from
rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with the use of issuing or causing the publication or dissemination of any advertisement in any form
modern computers and electronic machines. which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose as Annexes "A" and "B" of this
Respondent further argues that assuming that the services advertised are petition, and from conducting, directly or indirectly, any activity, operation or
legal services, the act of advertising these services should be allowed transaction proscribed by law or the Code of Professional Ethics as indicated herein.
supposedly in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs.
State Bar of Arizona, reportedly decided by the United States Supreme NOTE:
Court on June 7, 1977. Rule 2.03 - A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily
The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services to solicit legal business.
can neither be seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is