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SC expands legal practice for law students

/ 07:10 PM July 16, 2019

File photo by MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – Beginning 2020, law students who have been certified to have completed their first-year law courses can engage in a limited practice of law subject to a lawyer’s supervision.

Under Administrative Matter 19-03-24-SC, law students who completed their first year can acquire Level 1 certification while Level 2 Certification can be obtained by law students currently enrolled for the second semester of their third-year law courses unless the student fails to complete all their third-year law courses. In such a case, the Level 2 certification shall be deemed automatically revoked.

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Section 4 of the rule enumerates the practice areas for law student practitioners for both Level 1 and 2 Certifications while Section 5 itemizes the certification application requirements, which include a duly-accomplished application form under oath in three copies accompanied by proof of payment of the necessary legal and filing fees.

The rule stated that Level 1 is valid before all courts, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies within the judicial region where the law school is located while Level 2 is valid before all courts, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.

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Once the law student is certified, the certificate number must be used in signing briefs, pleadings, letters, and other similar documents produced under the direction of a supervising lawyer. (Section 7) The law student shall also take the Law Student Practitioner’s Oath, a modified lawyer’s oath, under Section 8 before engaging in the limited practice of law.

The new rule is a modification of Rule 138-A which provides that a law student “who has successfully completed his third year of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum… may appear without compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.”

The new rule on law student practice was approved by the Supreme Court en banc during its session last June 25. Details of the new rule were released Tuesday.

The high court said “the amendment ensures access to justice of the marginalized sectors, enhances learning opportunities of law students by instilling in them the value of legal professional social responsibility, and prepares them for the practice of law.”

It also said the amendment “addresses the need to institutionalize clinical legal education program in all law schools in order to enhance, improve, and streamline law student practice, and regulate their limited practice of law.”

The high court said the revised rule “shall take effect at the start of the Academic Year 2020-2021 following its publication in two newspapers of general circulation.”

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TAGS: law students, legal education, Supreme Court
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