Elevating the Standards of the Legal Profession

Article excerpt

Byline: Teofilo Pilando, Jr.

(Message delivered by Integrated Bar of the Philippines National President TEOFILO PILANDO, JR. at the Turn-Over Ceremonies, IBP June 30, 2003)

THE journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When I first took my oath as National President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines before the Justices of the Supreme Court two years ago, little did I know that remarkable changes would sweep the world in so little time. Back then, Afghanistan was still controlled by the Taliban, the twin towers of the World Trade Center still stood proudly in New York City, Hong Kong and Singapore were favorite tourist destinations and the only known SARS was a softdrink and not a virus. And yet one thing has remained constant. The IBP has remained steadfast to the general objectives of the Integrated Bar, namely, to elevate the standards of the legal profession, to improve the administration of justice, and to enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively. We feel proud that the IBP has been achieving significant strides in the pursuit of these goals.

During the beginning of my term, I outlined five fields of focus that would mark my stewardship, as the leadership of the IBP recognized the necessity for change and promised to have the courage to take risks to set a climate for constructive change. Nevertheless, as the IBP shall move forward, it will always recognize the legacy of tradition and the stabilizing significance of current practice or convention.

The Achievements: Two Years After

Two years have now passed since the foregoing goals have been set and enunciated. While much has been accomplished, two years may simply be not enough to finish all the projects and tasks we have set out to do, particularly in the light of the ever changing legal, political, and economic environment. Nevertheless, guided by said objectives, allow me to enumerate briefly some of the concrete measures that your IBP had been undertaking the past twentyfour (24) months:

1. We have spearheaded education activities to help uplift the standards of the legal profession. Mandatory continuing legal education has witnessed its maiden implementation, with seminars organized by the IBP nationwide, the latest of which was the National Convention in May 2003 at the Philippine International Convention Center (with 2,400 registered participants). We are also in the midst of discussion with the American Bar Association on joint undertakings in legal ethics, continuing legal education, and bar management reengineering;

2. We have encouraged the application of new technology in the everyday practice of law. We are providing our chapters with digital research materials, aside from computer hardware, and have started to establish a library that could eventually be accessed online by our members nationwide to level access to legal information. We have also enhanced our management information system, including the introduction of a functional ID system for lawyers;

3. We continue to explore ways to improve the welfare of our membership, including the procurement of additional insurance coverage for lawyers. We support the increase in benefits received by those in the Judiciary and in the Justice Department, which will go a long way in filling-up vacancies with competent applicants and of promoting performance and independence in these institutions;

4. Resolution of bar discipline cases has been expedited to maintain public confidence in the profession. The current Board adopted the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline and the Guidelines for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions. Around one-third (1/3) of the entire number of cases investigated by the IPB Commission on Bar Discipline since 1988 when this function was given to the IBP, were completed in the last two (2) years;

5. We seek cooperation with other professional disciplines and have been open to bold innovations to resolve differences and promote collaboration. …