Legal service advertised on Facebook, contrary to ethics law


Facebook user Marlon Aedrian Lopez reports that another netizen posted this in a buy-and-sell group on Facebook. This appears to be in violation of well-settled legal ethics principles.

Case in point is Bar Matter No. 553; June 17, 1993; MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, vs. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent. In that case, the Supreme Court held the following:
Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. He is not supposed to use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. Nor shall he pay or give something of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal business. Prior to the adoption of the code of Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect advertisements for professional employment, such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation.

The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or skill as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. The prescription against advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in the case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs. Estanislao R. Bayot an advertisement, similar to those of respondent which are involved in the present proceeding, was held to constitute improper advertising or solicitation.

The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:

It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . . is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.).

Another case is Linsanga v. Tolentino. The High Court rules, "Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares. To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the public’s estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called.(Supreme Court)"

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