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2540 September 24, 2013

Statement of Facts: Petitioner Michael Medado, who obtained his law degree in the year 1979, took and passed the same years bar examinations and took the Attorneys Oath, failed to sign the Attorneys Roll. After more than 30 years of practicing the profession of law, he filed the instant Petition on February 2012, praying that he be allowed to sign in the Roll of Attorneys. Medado said that he was not able to sign the Roll of Attorneys because he misplaced the notice given to him and he believed that since he had already taken the oath, the signing of the Roll of Attorneys is not urgent, nor as crucial to his status as a lawyer. The Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) after conducting clarificatory conference on the matter recommended to the Supreme Court that the instant petition be denied for petitioners gross negligence, gross misconduct and utter lack of merit.

Issue: WON the petitioner be allowed to sign in the roll of attorneys?

Ruling: Yes, the Court allowed the petitioner to sign the Roll of Attorneys subject to the payment of a fine and the imposition of a penalty equivalent to suspension from the practice of law. The Court cannot forbid the petitioner from signing the Roll of Attorneys because such action constitutes disbarment. Such penalty is reserved to the most serious ethical transgressions of members of the Bar. The Court cited three main points which demonstrate Medados worth to become a full-fledged member of the Philippine Bar. First, Medado demonstrated

good faith and good moral character when he finally filed the instant Petition to Sign in the Roll of Attorneys. It was Medado himself who admitted his own error and not any third person. Second, petitioner has not been subject to any action for disqualification from the practice of law. He strove to adhere to the strict requirements of the ethics of the profession and that he has prima facie shown that he possesses the character required to be a member of the Philippine Bar. Third, Medado appears to have been a competent and able legal practitioner, having held various positions at the Laurel Law Office, Petron, Petrophil Corporation, the Philippine National Oil Company, and the Energy Development Corporation. However, the Court cannot fully free Medado from all liability for his years of inaction. His justification of his action, that it was neither willful nor intentional but based on a mistaken belief and an honest error of judgment was opposed by the Court. A mistake of law cannot be utilized as a lawful justification, because everyone is presumed to know the law and its consequences. Although an honest mistake of fact could be used to excuse a person from the legal consequences of his acts he could no longer claim it as a valid justification by the moment he realized that what he had signed was merely an attendance record. His action of continuing the practice of law in spite of his knowledge of the need to take the necessary steps to complete all requirements for the admission to the bar constitutes unauthorized practice of law. Such action transgresses Canon 9 of 'the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides:
CANON 9 - A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the unauthorized practice of law.

With respect to the penalty, previous violations of Canon 9 have warranted the penalty of suspension from the practice of law. However, in the instant case the Court could not warrant the penalty of suspension from the practice of law to

Medado because he is not yet a full-fledged lawyer. Instead, the Court see it fit to impose upon him a penalty similar to suspension by allowing him to sign in the Roll of Attorneys one ( 1) year after receipt of the Resolution and to fine him in the amount of P32,000. The instant Petition to Sign in the Roll of Attorneys is Affirmed. Petitioner Michael A. Medado is ALLOWED to sign in the Roll of Attorneys ONE (1) YEAR after receipt of the Resolution. Petitioner is likewise ORDERED to pay a FINE of P32,000 for his unauthorized practice of law. During the one year period, petitioner is NOT ALLOWED to practice law, and is STERNLY WARNED that doing any act that constitutes practice of law before he has signed in the Roll of Attorneys will be dealt with severely by the Court.