Linsangan vs. Atty. Tolentino, A.C. No. 6672 – Case Digest

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FACTS

Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office filed a complaint of disbarment against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services alleging that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients to transfer legal representation to said respondent with the promise of financial assistance and expeditious collection on their claims. To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages. Complainant presented the sworn affidavit of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano convinced him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and use respondent’s services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000.00.

ISSUE

Whether or not Atty. Tolentino’s actions violate Rule 2.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

RULING

YES. The court adopted the findings of the IBP on unethical conduct of the respondent whereby it found the respondent to have encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 2.03 of the CPR which provides:

Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business.

Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers. Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment. Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides:

Rule 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any man’s cause.

This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain employment) as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.

Based on such, Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino is found to have violated Rules 1.03, 2.03, of the CPR and is suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.