The Law Student Practice Rule under Supreme Court A.M. No. 19-03-24-SC dated June 25, 2019 took effect at the start of the Academic Year 2020-2021 following its publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.
The Law Student Practice Rule amended the provisions of Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court “to ensure access to justice of the marginalized sectors, to enhance learning opportunities of law students, to instill among them the value of legal professional social responsibility, and to prepare them for the practice of law”. This institutionalizes “clinical legal education program in all law schools in order to enhance, improve, and stream line law student practice, and regulate their limited practice of law” and “to produce practice-ready lawyers”.
In the frequently asked questions of the Law Student Practice Rule otherwise known as Revised Rule 138-A:
“The amendment to Rule 138-A was borne out of the recognition of the reality that the sheer number of vulnerable Filipinos is staggering and the legal aid needs of the marginalized, is overwhelming. The law schools can very well provide legal services to the underserved. On the other hand, law students learn many of the important lawyering skills only by the actual application of their learning in the classroom and through interactions with actual clients. Thus, affording the law students the opportunity for experiential learning will enable them to learn the law and make them practice- ready, while serving the community.”
Who are eligible to engage in the limited practice of law under the Law Student Practice Rule? Under Section 3, the following are the eligibility requirements:
(a) Level 1 certification, for law students who have successfully completed their first-year law courses; and/or
(b) Level 2 certification, for law students currently enrolled for the second semester of their third-year law courses, Provided however, where a student fails to complete all their third-year law courses, the Level 2 certification shall be deemed automatically revoked.
Section 5 of the Law Student Practice Rule provides:
Section 5. Certification Application Requirements. – The law student must submit a duly-accomplished application form under oath in three (3) copies, accompanied by proof of payment of the necessary legal and filing fees.
The law school, through the dean or the authorized representative, shall submit to the Office of the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) having jurisdiction over the territory where the law school is located, the duly-accomplished application form together with an endorsement under oath.
Under the Law Student Practice Rule, students who have Level 1 certification may engage in the following, subject to the supervision and approval of a supervising lawyer, to wit:
(1) Interview prospective clients;
(2) Give legal advice to the client;
(3) Negotiate for and on behalf of the client;
(4) Draft legal documents such as affidavits, compromise agreements, contracts, demand letter, position papers, and the like;
(5) Represent eligible parties before quasi-judicial or administrative bodies;
(6) Provide public legal orientation; and
(7) Assist in public interest advocacies for policy formulation and implementation
On the other hand, holder of Level 2 certification may do the following, subject to supervision and approval of a supervising lawyer:
(1) Perform all activities under Level 1 Certification;
(2) Assist in the taking of depositions and/or preparing judicial affidavits of witnesses;
(3) Appear on behalf of the client at any stage of the proceedings or trial, before any court, quasi-judicial or administrative body;
(4) In criminal cases, subject to the provisions of Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, to appear on behalf of a government agency in the prosecution of criminal actions; and
(5) In appealed cases, to prepare the pleadings required in the case.