Considering the ramifications of the modern society

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Considering the ramifications of the modern society, there is hardly any activity that is not affected by some law or government regulation the businessman must know about and observe. In fact, again going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be part of a business concern to be considered a practitioner. He can be so deemed when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as these acts involve his knowledge and application of the laws regulating such transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main source of livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law because he must obey the Public Service Act and the rules and regulations of the Energy Regulatory Board. The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as the “performance of any acts … in or out of court, commonly understood to be the practice of law,” which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision goes on to say that “because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be workable.” The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually every lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law even if he does not earn his
living, or at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his activities are incidentally (even if only remotely) connected with some law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible exception is the lawyer whose income is derived from teaching ballroom dancing or escorting wrinkled ladies with pubescent pretensions. The respondent’s credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not persuade me that he has been engaged in the practice of law for ten years as required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been engaged in business and finance, in which areas he has distinguished himself, but as an executive and economist and not as a practicing lawyer. The plain fact is that he has occupied the various positions listed in his resume by virtue of his experience and prestige as a businessman and not as an attorney-at-law whose principal attention is focused on the law. Even if it be argued that he was acting as a lawyer when he lobbied in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served in the NAMFREL and the Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers like farmers and priests) and was a member of the Davide Commission, he has not proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed 10-year period of actual practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently qualified for many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not as Chairman of the Commission on Elections.

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