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PRACTICE OF LAW

The term practice of law is incapable of exact meaning. Blacks Law defines
"practice of law" as: the rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the
application of legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his
consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the conduct
of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident to
actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of
all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients
and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. An attorney engages in
the practice of law by maintaining an office where he is held out to be-an attorney, using
a letterhead describing himself as an attorney, counselling clients in legal matters,
negotiating with opposing counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and collecting
fees for services rendered by his associate.
To better understand the practice of law the court has laid down its general
principles and doctrines as follow:
1. To engage in the practice of law is to do any of those acts
which are characteristic of the legal profession.
2. Any activity in or out of court which requires the application
of law, legal principle, practice or procedure and calls for
legal knowledge, training and experience. (Cayetano vs
Monsod)
3. It is not limited to the conduct of cases in court.
4. Includes legal advice, counseling, and the preparation of
legal instruments and contracts by which legal rights are
secured, which may or may not be pending in court.
5. Strictly

speaking,

the

word practice

of

law

implies

the customary or habitual holding out of oneself to the public


as a lawyer and demanding compensation for his services.
(People

vs.

Villanueva

14 SCRA 111)

THE THREE PRINCIPAL TYPES OF PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES


The practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege, a privilege moreover
clothed with public interest because a lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his
client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation, and
takes part in one of the most important functions of the State the administration of
justice as an officer of the court. The practice of law being clothed with public
interest, the holder of this privilege must submit to a degree of control for the common
good, to the extent of the interest he has created.
Basically the practice of law has three principal types of professional activities.
And they are as follows:
1. Practice of law outside of courts and other agencies
2. Practice of law before government agencies other than
courts.
3. Practice of court in the regular court.

PRACTICE OF LAWS OUTSIDE OF COURTS AND OTHER AGENCIES


This is involves the giving of Legal advice and instructions to the clients to inform
them of their rights and obligations.
Engaging

in

the

practice

of

law presupposes the existence of a lawyer-

client relationship.
Legal advice and instructions is what lawyers provide to clients.

This generally

involves advising the client about the clients particular matter, or recommending or
advising the client to take a certain action.
Legal information can be said to be giving information that is a legal fact, such as
the legal age of when a person ceases to be a minor.
The practice of law is the giving of legal advice to a particular individual or entity.
Offering legal advice to the general public is not considered the unauthorized practice of
law. The advice has to be tailored to a specific person. Therefore, whether good or
bad, you will find legal advice by non-lawyers all over Internet, on news stands and TV
News, offered to the general public.

Actually defining legal advice is very difficult and there is no definition that is
uniformly accepted. The Internet has made defining the term even more difficult due to
the fact that everyone is assumed to know the law so stating laws and providing legal
information is available throughout the Internet on legal and non-legal sites alike.
Defining what is legal advice is difficult; however, examples of legal advice
which may include:

explaining the legal obligations of the parties under the real estate sales contract;
explaining the meaning of legal terms used in taking title to property or advising

the parties to the transaction which way to take title to the property;
explaining the legal obligations of the parties under the loan documents;
explaining the legal effect of an item reported as an exception in a title

commitment;
instructing or assisting a party in the completion of a legal document if to do so

requires the exercise of legal judgment;


providing legal opinions in response to the following types of questions:
What should I do?
What are my rights or obligations?

Preparation

for

clients

of documents requiring knowledge of legal principles not

possessed by ordinary layman.


When a person participates in a trial
and advertises himself as a lawyer, he
is in the practice of law.
Giving

advice

for

compensation regarding the legal status and rights of another

constitutes practice of law.


One who renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute and
receives pay for it, is to that extent,
practicing law.
Engaging
relationship.

in

the

practice

of

law presupposes the existence of a lawyer- client

Where a lawyer undertakes an activity without any such relationship, such as


teaching law or writing law books or
legal articles cannot be said to be engaged

in

the

practice

of

his

profession as a lawyer.
Characteristics

of

term

Practice

of

Law
The phrase 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 service.


Holding oneself out may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose.
Thus, a layman is illegally engaged in
the practice when he sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for
the general practice of law, or when the takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a
notary public and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing his intention to
practice law.

Private practice consists of frequent and customary actions, more than an isolated
appearance.
It

contemplates succession of acts of the same nature habitually and customarily

holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer.


Isolated Appearance:
A. A judge who is prohibited from engaging in private practice of law has not violated
this prohibition when he appeared as counsel for his cousin pro bono in a criminal case.
B. Appearance as counsel in one occasion is not conclusive as determinative of
engagement in the practice of law.
C. Appearance of a city attorney as private prosecutor not within the prohibition.
(People vs. Villanueva)

An

isolated

appearance

may, however, amount to practice:

1. Legislator cannot appear as counsel before any court of


justice or Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and administrative
bodies even in a single instance.
2. A

laymans

representation

as

defense counsel in a criminal case is invalid and the conviction of the accused may
be set aside, as violative of due process.
Representation before the court
Practice

of

law,

1. Rendering of

as

customarily understood, means:

services

to

person, natural or juridical, in court on any matter through various stages and in
accordance with rules of procedure.
2. Appearance before the court.
3. Preparation and filing of a pleading, motion, memorandum, or brief.
4. Examination of witnesses and presentation of evidence.
5. Management and control of the
proceedings in court.
Representation before other agencies
Appearances before any quasi-judicial, administrative, or legislative agency
constituting practice of law:
1. Interpretation and application of laws.
2. Presentation of evidence to establish certain facts.
3. Representing an applicant for registration of trademark, trade
name, or

service mark in

the

Philippine Patent Office.


4. Advocating or resisting claims before the NLRC, BoC, or BIR.
5. Representing before a legislative
body regarding

proposed legislation or ordinance.

Character of the service and not the place

where it is performed is the decisive

factor determinative of whether the service constitutes practice of law.


Service to prepare and prosecute a just claim
administrative

before

quasi-judicial

or

body same and

legitimate as the service rendered in court in arguing a cause.


Activity outside of court
Practice of law also consists of work performed outside of court:
o

Giving legal advice on large variety of subjects.

Conveyancing and preparation and execution of legal instruments covering

an extensive field of business and trust and other affairs.

No valid distinction can be drawn between part of the work involving appearance
in court and that part involving advice and drafting of instruments in his office.
Practice of law need not be habitual services in litigations in court. A
persons

past

work

experiences as

lawyer-economist, lawyer-manager, lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, lawyer-negotiator


of contracts, and lawyer-legislator more than satisfy the constitutional requirement for
appointment as Chairman of the COMELEC that he has been engaged in the active
practice of law for at least ten years. (Cayetano v Monsod)
What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice" refers to the
actual performance or application of knowledge as distinguished from mere possession
of knowledge; it connotes an active, habitual, repeated or customary action. To
"practice" law, or any profession for that matter, means, to exercise or pursue an
employment or profession actively, habitually, repeatedly or customarily.