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I. Preference of Modern Definition of Practice of Law over the Traditional Definition

The group prefers the definition of practice of law as laid down in the case of Cayetano vs. Monsod
(G.R. No. 100113, September 3, 1991) over the time-honored traditional definition.

The traditional meaning of the practice of law provides that one is said to be engaged in the
practice of law if he is customarily or habitually holding himself out to the public as a lawyer and
demanding payment for such service. It covers more on litigation perse with actual client-lawyer
relationship involved. This definition limits the performance of the lawyer’s legal expertise to a particular
sphere and does not encourage lawyers to experiment in other fields or endeavors. It embraces the
common concept of uninformed laymen of an attorney as one who principally tries cases before the
courts. With this definition, the long and painstaking yearning for legal knowledge has been put in box or
controlled by some traditional practice. The idea of practice of law is leaning towards the establishment of
lawyer-client relationship or to much more conservative extent, limited to the practice of it as a profession
with every service and production is dealt with payment and establishment of an engagement for
professional service in court.

On the other hand, the definition provided in the case of Cayetano vs. Monsod has expanded the
encapsulated, conservative and limited definition or coverage of practice of law. The practice of law
should not be constrained or limited to the obvious practice of law in litigation and more so limited to the
engagement of a client-lawyer relationship. It should be interpreted in the light of the dynamic,
comprehensive and modern concept of law practice. To limit practice of law to one aspect of its wide
spectrum would be illogical since law covers much more than litigation in courts, client-lawyer
relationship and the activities covered within it. To go with the traditional meaning would force other
lawyers to persist on practicing law within its limited definition just to avail of its advantages, leaving the
other spectrum of law unmanned or lacking in its presence.

The definition cited in the case demonstrates the global perspective in terms of how a lawyer will
behave in and out of the court. It does not limit the lawyer’s tasks and responsibilities in court. Further, it
shows that lawyers should not only delve or perform activity in court but should practice his legal
expertise or knowledge beyond the four corners of the court and transcend on other field of undertakings
in order to engage in practice of law.

Practice of law should also be defined in the modern way as to give justice and fairness to non-
litigants and to those not covered by the traditional acceptation of practice of law. It would be unfair to
consider the other areas of law practice like corporate law, taxation and other non-litigation works as less
of the practice of law since these activities also involve legal expertise and knowledge in the same way as
that of litigation works.

II. Difference between Giving Legal Advice and Giving Legal Information

Giving legal advice means giving of one’s opinion concerning certain matters involving law and
using the knowledge and expertise in law to render related information for the proper resolution of such
problem or subject matter as the case may be. It involved fiduciary relationship in that it presupposes a
client-lawyer relationship. Providing legal advice is more than giving information for it consists of
assessments relative to a particular case. Giving information does need to ascertain the details or
circumstance and does not an assessment. It only provides reference, time frame and options to the client.
Hence, it does not yet establish a client-lawyer relationship that requires the highest degree of fiduciary.