January 9, 2023 @ 1:30 PM 3 weeks ago

“The law profession was started by men who were modest in means yet rich in virtues… [T]hey were men who dedicated their lives to an ideal and labored so that in the application of the law each man may become the equal of every other man….” – Justice Jose P. Laurel

            THE law profession, it is said, is an order “as ancient as the magistracy, as noble as virtue, as necessary as justice.” Throughout history, it has been ranked as among the noblest, the most exalted, and the most learned of professions.

The irony, however, is that the legal profession is the most misunderstood and maligned profession.

The American writer Ambrose Bierce defined a lawyer as “one skilled in circumvention of the law.” The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, on the other hand, depicted lawyers as “a conscience for hire.” Thomas More wrote in “Utopia” that Utopians have no lawyers among them for they consider lawyers as “the sort of people whose profession it is to disguise matters.” Of course, William Shakespeare, in his historical play “Henry VI” (Part II), made the most searing, exploding indictment of all lawyers and the entire legal profession when he proposed: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

But despite all the brickbats and insults hurled at lawyers and the legal profession, no one can deny and dispute that the ancient and learned profession of the law is a noble and indispensable profession.

The legal profession is a branch of the administration of justice; its basic ideal is to render public service and serve justice for those who seek its aid.

And as members of the profession, lawyers are a vital cog in the country’s justice machinery. Their main duty is “to attain justice in all aspects of society. It is their duty to see to it that justice is achieved.” (Justice Jorge R. Coquia, “The Noble and Ethical Mission of the Law Profession”) Their profession thus exacts from them—in the enduring words of Chief Justice Querube C. Makalintal—“a spirit of dedication that cannot be learned from textbooks; a sense of responsibility higher than that required in many other callings; uncompromising rectitude and integrity in conduct; and of course the awareness that the lawyer’s fundamental task—indeed his only justification—is the maintenance of the rule of law and the promotion of justice.”

The task of maintaining respect for the legal profession falls squarely on the shoulders of lawyers themselves. Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa once exhorted lawyers in this wise: “Let us not give the gloomsayers the opportunity to condemn the men and women of the law without evidence, and without trial, simply because a very insignificant number of the members of our profession were tempted to do wrong.”

Certainly, the preservation and enhancement of the reputation of the Bar should be the primordial consideration of all lawyers—in all their undertakings. Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility obligates the Filipino lawyer to uphold, at all times, the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.