New PH lawyers required to provide free services

  • New lawyers have to do pro-bono work for 120 hours, a new SC order says 
  • The 120 hours may be completed for one year 
  • Pro-bono work is intended for indigent clients 

Aspiring lawyers who will pass the bar exams will have to render pro-bono services, the Supreme Court (SC) has ordered.

The High Court, in an order released October 10, directs new lawyers to render 120 hours worth of free legal services to poor clients.

This move guarantees “access to adequate legal assistance” for the people as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

“As a way to discharge this constitutional duty, lawyers are obliged to render pro bono services to those who otherwise would be denied access to adequate legal services,” Inquirer quoted a portion of the order.

The 120-hour service may be completed in one year upon passing the bar. The first batch of lawyers covered by this new rule are those who will pass this November’s bar exam.

Meanwhile, the rule also laid out exemptions to lawyers already involved with social good. These include those working for the executive and legislative government branches six months before passing the bar. Those who have experienced providing free legal services before taking the bar are also exempted.

Lawyers may also choose to take “public interest cases and legal issues which affect the society,” Inquirer noted.

The Office of the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are the bodies assigned to monitor the compliance of the new rule.