Complainant and Respondent are opponent in a civil case when complainant inquired on the credentials of the Respondent’s alleged corroboration counsel Atty. Elizabeth Dela Rosa. It was found out the Dela Rosa is not a Lawyer and not authorized to practice law. Respondent defendant that she did not authorized Dela Rosa to appear in his behalf and that her signature was forged.
Whether Respondent violated the CPR?
Yes, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that a lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the unauthorized practice of law. The Court ruled that the term “practice of law” implies customarily or habitually holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer for compensation as a source of livelihood or in consideration of his services.5 The Court further ruled that holding one’s self out as a lawyer may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose, such as identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in court in representation of a client, or associating oneself as a partner of a law office for the general practice of law.
The lawyer’s duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.
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