Rule 138 – Rules of Court
Attorneys and Admission to Bar
ATTORNEYS & ADMISSION TO BAR
Section 1. Who may practice law. – Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this rule, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
Sec. 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. – Every applicant for admission as a member of the bar must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, and a resident of the Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.
Sec. 3. Requirements for lawyers who are citizens of the United States of America. – Citizens of the United States of America who, before July 4, 1946, were duly licensed members of the Philippine Bar, in active practice in the courts of the Philippines and in good and regular standing as such may, upon satisfactory proof of those facts before the Supreme Court, be allowed to continue such practice after taking the following oath of office:
“I, _________________________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its 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, nor 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 this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.”
Sec. 4. Requirements for applicants from other jurisdictions. – Applicants for admission who, being Filipino citizens, are enrolled attorneys in good standing in the Supreme Court of the United States or in any circuit court of appeals or district court therein, or in the highest court of any State or Territory of the United States, and who can show by satisfactory certificates that they have practiced at least five years in any of said courts, that such practice began before July 4, 1946, and that they have never been suspended or disbarred, may, in the discretion of the Court, be admitted without examination.
Sec. 5. Additional requirements for other applicants. – All applicants for admission other than those referred to in the two preceding sections shall, before being admitted to the examination, satisfactorily show that they have regularly studied law for four years, and successfully completed all prescribed courses, in a law school or university, officially approved and recognized by the Secretary of Education. The affidavit of the candidate, accompanied by a certificate from the university or school of law, shall be filed as evidence of such facts, and further evidence may be required by the court.
No applicant shall be admitted to the bar examinations unless he has satisfactorily completed the following courses in a law school or university duly recognized by the government: civil law, commercial law, remedial law, criminal law, public and private international law, political law, labor and social legislation, medical jurisprudence, taxation and legal ethics.
Sec. 6. Pre-Law. – No applicant for admission to the bar examination shall be admitted unless he presents a certificate that he has satisfied the Secretary of Education that, before he began the study of law, he had pursued and satisfactorily completed in an authorized and recognized university or college, requiring for admission thereto the completion of a four-year high school course, the course of study prescribed therein for a bachelor’s degree in arts or sciences with any of the following subjects as major or field of concentration: political science, logic, english, spanish, history and economics.
Sec. 7. Time for filing proof of qualifications. – All applicants for admission shall file with the clerk of the Supreme Court the evidence required by section 2 of this rule at least fifteen (15) days before the beginning of the examination. If not embraced within sections 3 and 4 of this rule they shall also file within the same period the affidavit and certificate required by section 5, and if embraced within sections 3 and 4 they shall exhibit a license evidencing the fact of their admission to practice, satisfactory evidence that the same has not been revoked, and certificates as to their professional standing. Applicants shall also file at the same time their own affidavits as to their age, residence, and citizenship.
Sec. 8. Notice of applications. – Notice of applications for admission shall be published by the clerk of the Supreme Court in newspapers published in Pilipino, English and Spanish, for at least ten (10) days before the beginning of the examination.
Sec. 9. Examination; subjects. – Applicants, not otherwise provided for in sections 3 and 4 of this rule, shall be subjected to examinations in the following subjects: Civil Law; Labor and Social Legislation; Mercantile Law; Criminal Law; Political Law (Constitutional Law, Public Corporations, and Public Officers); International Law (Private and Public); Taxation; Remedial Law (Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence); Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (in Pleading and Conveyancing).
Sec. 10. Bar examination, by questions and answers, and in writing. – Persons taking the examination shall not bring papers, books or notes into the examination rooms. The questions shall be the same for all examinees and a copy thereof, in English or Spanish, shall be given to each examinee. Examinees shall answer the questions personally without help from anyone.
Upon verified application made by an examinee stating that his penmanship is so poor that it will be difficult to read his answers without much loss of time, the Supreme Court may allow such examinee to use a typewriter in answering the questions. Only noiseless typewriters shall be allowed to be used.
The committee of bar examiners shall take such precautions as are necessary to prevent the substitution of papers or commission of other frauds. Examinees shall not place their names on the examination papers. No oral examination shall be given.
Sec. 11. Annual examination. – Examinations for admission to the bar of the Philippines shall take place annually in the City of Manila. They shall be held in four days to be designated by the chairman of the committee on bar examiners. The subjects shall be distributed as follows: First day: Political and International Law (morning) and Labor and Social Legislation (afternoon); Second day: Civil Law (morning) and Taxation (afternoon); Third day: Mercantile Law (morning) and Criminal Law (afternoon); Fourth day: Remedial Law (morning) and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (afternoon).
Sec. 12. Committee of examiners. – Examinations shall be conducted by a committee of bar examiners to be appointed by the Supreme Court. This committee shall be composed of a Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall act as chairman, and who shall be designated by the court to serve for one year, and eight members of the bar of the Philippines, who shall hold office for a period of one year. The names of the members of this committee shall be published in each volume of the official reports.
Sec. 13. Disciplinary measures. – No candidate shall endeavor to influence any member of the committee, and during examination the candidates shall not communicate with each other nor shall they give or receive any assistance. The candidate who violates this provision, or any other provision of this rule, shall be barred from the examination, and the same to count as a failure against him, and further disciplinary action, including permanent disqualification, may be taken in the discretion of the court.
Sec. 14. Passing average. – In order that a candidate may be deemed to have passed his examinations successfully, he must have obtained a general average of 75 per cent in all subjects, without falling below 50 per cent in any subject. In determining the average, the subjects in the examination shall be given the following relative weights: Civil Law, 15 per cent; Labor and Social Legislation, 10 per cent; Mercantile Law, 15 per cent; Criminal Law; 10 per cent; Political and International Law, 15 per cent; Taxation, 10 per cent; Remedial Law, 20 per cent; Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises, 5 per cent.
Sec. 15. Report of the committee; filing of examination papers. – Not later than February 15th after the examination, or as soon thereafter as may be practicable, the committee shall file its reports on the result of such examination. The examination papers and notes of the committee shall be fixed with the clerk and may there be examined by the parties in interest, after the court has approved the report.
Sec. 16. Failing candidates to take review course. – Candidates who have failed the bar examinations for three times shall be disqualified from taking another examination unless they show to the satisfaction of the court that they have enrolled in and passed regular fourth year review classes as well as attended a pre-bar review course in a recognized law school.
The professors of the individual review subjects attended by the candidates under this rule shall certify under oath that the candidates have regularly attended classes and passed the subjects under the same conditions as ordinary students and the ratings obtained by them in the particular subject.
Sec. 17. Admission and oath of successful applicants. – An applicant who has passed the required examination, or has been otherwise found to be entitled to admission to the bar, shall take and subscribe before the Supreme Court the corresponding oath of office.
Sec. 18. Certificate. – The Supreme Court shall thereupon admit the applicant as a member of the bar for all the courts of the Philippines, and shall direct an order to be entered to that effect upon its records, and that a certificate of such record be given to him by the clerk of court, which certificate shall be his authority to practice.
Sec. 19. Attorneys’ roll. – The clerk of the Supreme Court shall keep a roll of all attorneys admitted to practice, which roll shall be signed by the person admitted when he receives his certificate.
Sec. 20. Duties of attorneys. – It is the duty of an attorney:
(a) To maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines;
(b) To observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers;
(c) To counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law;
(d) To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and never seek to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law;
(e) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in connection with his client’s business except from him or with his knowledge and approval;
(f) To abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged;
(g) Not to encourage either the commencement or the continuance of an action or proceeding, or delay any man’s cause, from any corrupt motive or interest;
(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.
Sec. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. – An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him to appear in court for his client, but the presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney wilfully appearing in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions.
Sec. 22. Attorney who appears in lower court presumed to represent client on appeal. – An attorney who appears de parte in a case before a lower court shall be presumed to continue representing his client on appeal, unless he files a formal petition withdrawing his appearance in the appellate court.
Sec. 23. Authority of attorneys to bind clients. – Attorneys have authority to bind their clients in any case by any agreement in relation thereto made in writing, and in taking appeals, and in all matters of ordinary judicial procedure. But they cannot, without special authority, compromise their client’s litigation, or receive anything in discharge of a client’s claim but the full amount in cash.
Sec. 24. Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees. – An attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a view to the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, the extent of the services rendered, and the professional standing of the attorney. No court shall be bound by the opinion of attorneys as expert witnesses as to the proper compensation, but may disregard such testimony and base its conclusion on its own professional knowledge. A written contract for services shall control the amount to be paid therefor unless found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable.
Sec. 25. Unlawful retention of client’s funds; contempt. – When an attorney unjustly retains in his hands money of his client after it has been demanded, he may be punished for contempt as an officer of the Court who has misbehaved in his official transactions; but proceedings under this section shall not be a bar to a criminal prosecution.
Sec. 26. Change of attorneys. – An attorney may retire at any time from any action or special proceeding, by the written consent of his client filed in court. He may also retire at any time from an action or special proceeding, without the consent of his client, should the court, on notice to the client and attorney, and on hearing, determine that he ought to be allowed to retire. In case of substitution, the name of the attorney newly employed shall be entered on the docket of the court in place of the former one, and written notice of the change shall be given to the adverse party.
A client may at any time dismiss his attorney or substitute another in his place, but if the contract between client and attorney has been reduced to writing and the dismissal of the attorney was without justifiable cause, he shall be entitled to recover from the client the full compensation stipulated in the contract. However, the attorney may, in the discretion of the court, intervene in the case to protect his rights. For the payment of his compensation the attorney shall have a lien upon all judgments for the payment of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgment, rendered in the case wherein his services had been retained by the client.
Sec. 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. – A member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a wilfull disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
Sec. 28. Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance. – The Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance may suspend an attorney from practice for any of the causes named in the last preceding section, and after such suspension such attorney shall not practice his profession until further action of the Supreme Court in the premises.
Sec. 29. Upon suspension by Court of Appeals or Court of First Instance, further proceedings in Supreme Court. – Upon such suspension, the Court of Appeals or the Court of First Instance shall forthwith transmit to the Supreme Court a certified copy of the order or suspension and a full statement of the facts upon which the same was based. Upon the receipt of such certified copy and statement, the Supreme Court shall make full investigation of the facts involved and make such order revoking or extending the suspension, or removing the attorney from his office as such, as the facts warrant.
Sec. 30. Attorney to be heard before removal or suspension. – No attorney shall be removed or suspended from the practice of his profession, until he has had full opportunity upon reasonable notice to answer the charges against him, to produce witnesses in his own behalf, and to be heard by himself or counsel. But if upon reasonable notice he fails to appear and answer the accusation, the court may proceed to determine the matter ex parte.
Sec. 31. Attorneys for destitute litigants. – A court may assign an attorney to render professional aid free of charge to any party in a case, if upon investigation it appears that the party is destitute and unable to employ an attorney, and that the services of counsel are necessary to secure the ends of justice and to protect the rights of the party. It shall be the duty of the attorney so assigned to render the required service, unless he is excused therefrom by the court for sufficient cause shown.
Sec. 32. Compensation for attorneys de oficio. – Subject to availability of funds as may be provided by law the court may, in its discretion, order an attorney employed as counsel de oficio to be compensated in such sum as the court may fix in accordance with section 24 of this rule. Whenever such compensation is allowed, it shall not be less than thirty pesos (P30.00) in any case, nor more than the following amounts: (1) Fifty pesos (P50.00) in light felonies; (2) One hundred pesos (P100.00) in less grave felonies; (3) Two hundred pesos (P200.00) in grave felonies other than capital offenses; (4) Five hundred pesos (P500.00) in capital offenses.
Sec. 33. Standing in court of persons authorized to appear for Government. – Any official or other person appointed or designated in accordance with law to appear for the Government of the Philippines shall have all the rights of a duly authorized member of the bar to appear in any case in which said government has an interest direct or indirect.
Sec. 34. By whom litigation conducted. – In the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
Sec. 35. Certain attorneys not to practice. – No judge or other official or employee of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private practice as a member of the bar or give professional advice to clients.
Sec. 36. Amicus curiae. – The court may, in special cases, and upon proper application, permit the appearance, as amici curiae, of those lawyers who in its opinion can help in the disposition of the matter before it; or it may, on its own initiative, invite prominent attorneys to appear as amici curiae in such special cases.
Sec. 37. Attorneys’ liens. – An attorney shall have a lien upon the funds, documents and papers of his client which have lawfully come into his possession and may retain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid, and may apply such funds to the satisfaction thereof. He shall also have a lien to the same extent upon all judgments for the payment of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgments, which he has secured in a litigation of his client, from and after the time when he shall have caused a statement of his claim of such lien to be entered upon the records of the court rendering such judgment, or issuing such execution, and shall have caused written notice thereof to be delivered to his client and to the adverse party; and he shall have the same right and power over such judgments and executions as his client would have to enforce his lien and secure the payment of his just fees and disbursements.