Legal Ethics

Marcelina Zamora vs Atty. Marilyn Gallanosa

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A.C. No. 10738 – 883 Phil. 334 – Legal Ethics – Inception of the Attorney-Client Relationship – Stealing Clients

Marcelina Zamora’s husband filed an illegal dismissal case against his employer. They submitted a position paper drafted by the PAO to the NLRC. However, while Marcelina was outside the NLRC office, Atty. Marilyn Gallanosa approached her and asked her what was she doing there. Marcelina explained their situation and thereafter Gallanosa maligned the position paper made by the PAO. She convinced Marcelina to drop PAO as her lawyer.

Eventually, Marcelina withdrew the position paper made by PAO from the NLRC and she submitted the one drafted by Gallanosa. Her husband lost the labor case. Gallanosa promised Marcelina that she will appeal but she never did. Marcelina then filed an administrative case against Gallanosa.

Gallanosa averred that no attorney-client relationship existed between her and Marcelina and her husband because she never signed the position paper.

ISSUE: Whether or not Gallanosa is administratively liable.

HELD: Yes. Gallanosa is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Gallanosa admits that she counseled Marcelina and her husband regarding their labor case. A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first moment Gallanosa discussed with Marcelina the labor case of her husband and advised her as to what legal course of action should be pursued therein. By Gallanosa’s acquiescence with the consultation and her drafting of the position paper which was thereafter submitted in the case, a professional employment was established between her and Marcelina. To constitute professional employment, it is not essential that the client employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion, or that any retainer be paid, promised, or charged. The fact that one is, at the end of the day, not inclined to handle the client’s case, or that no formal professional engagement follows the consultation, or no contract whatsoever was executed by the parties to memorialize the relationship is hardly of consequence. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any matter pertinent to his profession.

Further, Gallanosa is guilty of stealing another lawyer’s client. Settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyer’s client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services. It is undisputed that Gallanosa was aware of the professional relationship between the PAO and Marcelina/her husband with respect to the labor case, yet, she assumed the drafting of a new position paper, especially to replace the one originally filed by the PAO. Worse, when they lost, she neglected to appeal. Atty Marilyn Gallanosa is clearly dishonest, inefficient, and negligent. She is suspended for six months.

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