Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Persons with disabilities (PWD); new law (12% VAT exemption) in addition to 20% discount, like senior citizens | Inquirer News

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President Benigno Aquino III has signed into law a bill authored by Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez granting persons with disabilities (PWDs) exemption from the 12-percent value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services.

The President signed Republic Act No. 10754 granting VAT exemption benefits to persons with disabilities last March 24, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said he had been informed on Tuesday.

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The Philippine Statistics Authority has estimated the PWD population in the country at 1.5 million.

Like senior citizens, PWDs are eligible for a 20-percent discount on medical and dental services; purchase of medicines in all drugstores; public railway, skyway and bus fares; admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other places of culture, leisure and amusement; and all services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers.

x x x.

(Cf.  Republic Act No. 7277, "Magna Carta for Persons with Disability", as amended by RA 9442 - which gave the PWDs the 20-percent discount).

x x x.

Apart from the tax perk, the PWD law will also allow PWD relatives up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity taking care of the handicapped to claim a tax deduction of P25,000 in their annual income tax.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Canada’s legal system is sexist and broken |

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By: Hans Rollmann | March 26, 2016

When it comes to dealing with sexual harassment and assault, Canada’s legal system is sexist and broken.

The Jian Ghomeshi verdict is not so much a bad verdict as it is the product of a badly broken system. It reveals that the problems which continue to plague a legal system that is powerfully biased against women complainants are deeply rooted and systemic.

For an excellent analysis of the sexist reasoning underlying the ruling, check out this thorough overview. But the Ghomeshi verdict is just the tip of the iceberg.
Women driven out

Earlier this month, a report by the Criminal Lawyers’ Association revealed that women were leaving the field of criminal law in dramatically high numbers, owing to discrimination.

“It found low pay, lack of financial support for maternity leave and being treated differently than male peers by judges and court staff as some of the reasons so many women are leaving private practice of criminal law,” reported Maureen Brosnahan for the CBC.

A field in which women are discriminated against and driven out in such numbers means it’s a field where masculine attitudes and standards dominate. It’s little wonder that so little progress has been made in educating judges about the very basics of sexism and gender equality. And it’s little wonder that their rulings reflect this lack of perspective and understanding.

Let’s say it again: Canada’s legal system is sexist and broken.

Where to start?

A few years ago, I had a revealing encounter of my own. A local law office came out with an ad which was condemned by local activists as sexist. “Assault this, and you’ll only need one law firm,” stated the ad, where the ‘this’ being objectified referred to women.

When I wrote a complaint about the ad to the provincial Law Society, I had expected them to look into the matter. Instead, they disclosed my complaint and identity to the lawyer in question, and I proceeded to receive a number of aggressive letters, suggesting my statement that “the ads in question may be easily construed as condoning and in fact encouraging violence against women” may be libellous.

I was understandably shocked; calling out a triggering ad about sexual assault as being sexist resulted not in apologies but instead what appeared to be threats from a male lawyer. When I complained about this to the Law Society, and pointed out their treatment of the matter would have been deeply traumatic to a survivor of sexual assault, they indicated they hadn’t dealt with a complaint of this nature before. In the end the complaint was resolved — the ad was removed and the Law Society indicated they would revise and clarify their complaint procedures, which they subsequently have.

But the whole affair revealed a very telling fact — the legal field was badly unprepared for what in the 21st century should be a much higher priority: tackling sexism. These problems are not confined to Canada, either. A 2015 article in The New Statesman offers a moving example of how deeply rooted sexism is in western legal institutions.

In Canada, the low rates of conviction for sexual assault are an indictment of the system itself. As a 2014 Toronto Star article revealed using Statscan data from 2004 and 2006, 460,000 women self-reported sexual assault: 15,200 reported to the police, 5,544 charges were laid, with 2,824 prosecutions and 1,519 convictions. Again, that’s almost a half million self-reported assaults, and 1,519 convictions. Something is deeply wrong.

All of this is the product of a systemic sexism which manifests in multiple ways: lack of appropriate oversight and education around sexism and gender equality for those who work in the legal field, lack of adequate support for women seeking to make careers in the field, and ultimately a lack of basic feminist principles in the adjudication of cases like that of Jian Ghomeshi.

Let’s say it again: Canada’s legal system is sexist and broken.

Media plays a role, too

When systemic sexism rears its head in one field, it’s often the case that systemic inequities in other fields emerge to support it. Take media coverage of the Ghomeshi ruling. While there’s been a lot of good and insightful coverage of the trial, including by CBC reporters, there’s also been a lot of coverage that has retrenched rape myths and other sexist stereotypes. A telling example is offered by a CBC story published shortly after the ruling, which reveals the masculine privilege still embedded in the newsroom.

The article, headlined “Ghomeshi trial praised by lawyers for ‘right decision’”, opens with the lede: “While former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi’s acquittal has sparked protests, many within the legal community are praising the decision, agreeing with the judge that the complainants’ credibility issues raised reasonable doubt in the case.”

This is a typically masculinist framing of the issue. “Many within the legal community” – i.e. experts – support the decision, while those who dislike it are dismissed as ‘protestors’ (while in fact many of those who have criticized the decision are academic and legal scholars as well).

But most damningly, the article goes on to quote no less than six of these legal experts, all of whom are men. And not a single woman appears in the entire article.

Some journalists might argue that expert opinions have no gender. But anyone with a basic understanding of gender knows that they do. Moreover, for a news agency to publish an analysis of a case involving sexual assault allegations against women, without interviewing a single woman, is basic bad journalism. But it’s bad journalism that legitimizes the systemic sexism that pervaded this case and its outcome.

Let’s say it again: Canada’s legal system is sexist and broken.

Reflection, and a time for change

When it comes to justice for women survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment, Canada’s legal system is badly broken. Let’s use this moment not just to critique the Ghomeshi verdict, but to call for a review and overhaul of the Canadian justice system, and to address the deeply rooted and systemic sexism with which it is riddled in so many ways.

In the wake of the Ghomeshi verdict there are already some great ideas being floated around, including the possibility of introducing special courts to hear sexual assault cases — much like Newfoundland and Labrador’s Family Violence Intervention Court that advocates, including Crown prosecutors, have fought hard for.

Whatever future possibilities exist, they first require political will. And it just so happens that when Canada’s Liberal government was elected last fall, Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called for her to “conduct a review of the changes in our criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the past decade with a mandate to assess the changes, ensure that we are increasing the safety of our communities, getting value for money, addressing gaps and ensuring that current provisions are aligned with the objectives of the criminal justice system.”

If there was ever a time to get a move on reforming the legal system to ensure justice for victims of rape and sexual assault, that time is now. Because Canada’s legal system is sexist and broken.

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- See more at:

America’s “Aristocratic Branch”: Supreme Court Justices Represent Privilege Exclusively | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

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Since the High Court’s 1789 founding, its rulings show allegiance to power, not “we the people.”

Privilege alone matters. The prevailing fiction about America’s founders establishing an egalitarian system representing all citizens equitably is polar opposite reality.

The nation was always ruled by men (more recently including women), not laws. They lie, connive, misinterpret laws, and pretty much do what they please for their own self-interest and powerful constituents.

Democracy is pure fantasy. So is liberal governance in all three federal branches. A chief executive serves as a virtual dictator in times of war.

One senator can negate the will of the majority. Congressional committees are run by power brokers. Money controlled lobbyists wield enormous influence.

America is a one-party state with two wings, each in lockstep on issues mattering most – notably war and peace, corporate empowerment and cracking down hard on resisters.

The Constitution’s Article I, Section 8 stating “(t)he Congress shall have power to…provide for (the) general welfare of the United States” – the so-called welfare clause applicable to the Executive and High Court belies reality.

America’s sordid history includes endless wars, police state laws, streets turned into battlegrounds, cops licensed to kill with impunity, unchecked political and corporate corruption, racketeering labor officials, and neglected social needs.

In his important book, titled “Democracy for the Few,” Michael Parenti called the Supreme Court America’s “aristocratic branch.”

Its members are appointed for life with enormous power, serving privilege, not “we the people,” nearly always siding with wealth and power interests.

Even during the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal era, “the Supreme Court was the activist bastion of laissez-faire capitalism,” Parenti explained.

High Courts notably “oppose restrictions on capitalist power…support(ing) restrictions on the civil liberties of persons who agitated against that power.”

Justice in America is a four-letter word. High Courts earlier and now “treated the allegedly pernicious quality of a radical idea as evidence of its lethal efficacy and as justification for its suppression.”

“(T)he threat of revolution in the United States has never been as real or harmful as the measures taken to ‘protect’ us from revolutionary ideas…”

America’s courts, especially its highest, serve as guardians of power, continuity of a system serving privilege exclusively.

The Warren Court (1953 – 1969) was the exception proving the rule. Its distinguished members included William J. Brennan, Jr., William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter and Thurgood Marshall for a short period.

For the first time ever, justices ruled “repeatedly on behalf of the less affluent,” Parenti explained, including the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, ruling “separate educational facilities inherently unequal” – years before Marshall joined the High Court.

Post-Warren courts for nearly half a century have been notably right-wing, today more than ever. High Court injustice prevails, people rights and needs consistently spurned, privilege exclusively served.

Garland represents business as usual. No modern-day William Brennans or Thurgood Marshalls are considered for High Court appointments. America’s privileged class demands its own.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2016

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Members Of The Legal Profession Must Practice Patience | Above the Law

"x x x.

March 22, 2016
  1. Breathe. I find that if someone is in my face, I tense up.  My breathing becomes shallower.  My muscles tighten.  I’m ready to fight.   Take a deep breath.  It will calm you down and deescalate the situation.  I don’t mean by deep breath a passive-aggressive heavy sigh (save that for meetings).  What I mean is to take a full on yoga-style deep breath.
  1. Distance yourself. It is hard to remember that when someone is pulling you into a circle of drama that you don’t need to make it your drama.  View the situation as if you are watching actors in a play safely from the balcony.  How do you feel the actor should respond?   Sometimes we give others better advice than we choose to follow for ourselves.  This is a very good tool when the tester of your patience is yourself.
  2. One can achieve distance by exercising, changing location, engaging in a hobby, or reading a good book.  In other words, something that distracts us from being drawn into the drama can help us achieve perspective.
  1. Set limits. Sometimes we feel impatient because we have no safe space.  With our texts constantly blowing up our phones, with phone calls, e-mails, and the like, our space is constantly invaded.   Setting limits gives us some time to not respond.
  2. As an example, I had a friend who would blow up my phone almost every night with drama. I told this person I would be putting my phone down at 9 p.m.  Of course, at precisely 8:59 p.m., came more drama texts.  I then reset the limit: I choose when I respond.  No one gets to choose for me.  It might be 8:50, or 8:30, or never.
  1. Understand the triggers. Some people are very good at pushing buttons.  What do they get from doing so?  Power?  Attention?  It is vitally important that you rob them of their motivation.  If someone likes to see you clench your jaw and turn bright red when they yell at you, it is important to remember tip #1, above.  Robbing them of their motivation takes away their desire to test your patience.
  2. But more importantly, why are you reacting viscerally?  Usually, we replay tapes (or if you’re younger, MP3s) in our heads from when we were younger in similar situations.  Like well-bred truffle pigs, some people instinctively know which buttons to push to maximize a response from you.  If you figure out how to avoid responding, you win twice over: You take away their motivation, and you gain power, control, and patience.  If the person who is pushing your buttons is yourself, what are you trying to tell yourself about having to deal with that issue?
  1. Fake it until you make it. Attempt to start each day being positive and grateful, whether you are or not.  Attempt to start each day feeling powerful, whether you feel it or not.
  2. If someone is attempting to take your joy away, respond with short, positive statements.  It is a way to avoid being sucked into the drama.  If someone goes on about how they’ll “never find what they are looking for,” I usually reply, “I’m sure it’s just around the corner for you.”  This is usually followed by “LawProfBlawg, how would you know?  I’ve searched for decades.”  My response, “If you think positively, I’m sure you’ll find it soon.”   Disengagement by engagement allows you to maintain being positive while not letting someone take your energy.  It even works if the person attempting to sap your energy is yourself.
  1. Hoc quoque finiet. Or maybe Illegitimi non carborundum.   Recognize that all things are temporary.  The person who is annoying you today won’t be the person annoying you 10 years from now.  That which consumed your worries last year is perhaps no longer a worry today.  The notion that you are not stuck in that state of having your energy drained (by yourself or others) is something that can be reassuring. x x x."

Female lawyers face bias, Florida bar survey shows | and The Tampa Tribune

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Published: March 27, 2016
Updated: March 28, 2016 at 05:57 AM

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In fact, the survey found 43 percent of respondents saying they’d experienced gender bias in their career and 42 percent said they had difficulties maintaining a balance between work and their private lives.

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It also comes at a time when women are growing as a percentage of attorneys in the state. Women make up 37 percent of the total Florida Bar membership, but 48 percent of the Young Lawyers Division, which includes all lawyers under age 36.

Coincidentally, the American Bar Association reported last week that female lawyers earn 77 percent of what male lawyers make.

The Florida Bar random survey of more than 400 young female lawyers found 21 percent felt they were not paid the same as male counterparts.

More than 25 percent of respondents to the survey said they resigned from a position because of a lack of advancement opportunities, a lack of work-life balance and/or insensitivity from supervisors, and 42 percent said they had trouble balancing work and personal life responsibilities.

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(813) 259-7837
Twitter: @ElaineTBO

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- See more at:

How to Tell a Client You Screwed Up -

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Prevention Is the Best Cure

You can minimize the opportunity for mistakes by avoiding bad clients and staying with your practice area niche.

Bad clients tend to do bad things. They may push you to approach a case in a different way. They may push you to pursue a certain argument or legal theory that you don’t believe in. Or maybe they just drive you crazy and cause undue stress. A bad client will cloud your judgment, which will only result in bad decisions for everyone.

While straying from your niche can be a great learning experience, it is also a path filled with landmines. Even a “basic” will package is not all that basic if you’ve never drafted one before. Sure, you can figure it out. But what you don’t know will hurt you, will probably get you fired, and could result in an ethics complaint or malpractice claim. The next time someone calls you with a great complex IP lawsuit in federal court, politely decline unless that is what you do.

However, even if you follow that advice, you are still going to make mistakes. Here’s how you should handle them.

Step 1: Make Sure You Made a Mistake

“Confirm a mistake was made before calling your client and telling them you’re an idiot.”

Don’t push the panic button unless the sky is actually falling. Investigate, analyze, and confirm you actually screwed up. I’m not talking about deleting emails, destroying evidence, or creating an outlandish excuse. Simply confirm that you actually goofed before calling your client and telling them you are an idiot.

For example: You freak out and realize you blew the deadline for responding to discovery. That’s bad, maybe very bad. It’s weird; you never do that. Wait? Didn’t you request an extension? Yes! You did! And it’s right there in your email thread.

Maybe it’s not in your email thread. Did you make a note somewhere else? Yep! There’s your scanned Post-It note. And it’s also noted in your time entries for the case.

I’ve had those moments. They are not fun. But I was also able to breathe easy after taking a deep breath and making sure that I did (or didn’t) actually screw up.

Examples of real mistakes would be:

Failing to include a mandatory defense in a pleading.
Actually blowing a deadline with no excuse and no recourse.
Failing to communicate a settlement offer (or failing to convey the correct offer).
Failing to show up for a hearing in court.

If you make a mistake like that, take the time to figure out the scope of the damage.

Step 2: Figure Out How Bad It Is and What Steps You Need to Take
“You need to do your due diligence when you make a mistake.”

If you made a mistake, feel free to curse out loud, run outside screaming, or take a long lunch. It happens. It sucks.

Now that you’ve let yourself have it, you need to figure out how bad it is. At a minimum, you need to evaluate the situation and decide what is appropriate. Unsurprisingly, theethics rules give you a fair amount of leeway between notifying clients of small mistakes (like a minor typo) and major mistakes (something that would lead to a malpractice claim). You will also want to review Rule 1.4 (communication with clients) and Rule 1.7(conflicts of interest).

Perhaps more importantly, you need to decide if you need to notify your malpractice carrier. Start by reviewing your actual policy language—it is probably much more broad than you realized before reading this article. There is a strong likelihood that your policy requires timely notification of a claim (or even a potential claim). And you may be denied coverage if you fail to timely report a potential claim (some policies define a claim very broadly).

The good news is that if you are required to notify your malpractice carrier, they can help you with the situation. That may include advice or even helping you prepare the proper documentation. In some cases, you may need to draft a letter advising your client of the mistake and how it impacts their case. Or you may need to draft a letter explaining there is now a potential conflict in your continued representation, and you may need to get your client’s consent to continue representing them.

In other words: you need to do your due diligence when you make a mistake. At a minimum, you need to review your state’s rules of professional responsibility and make your malpractice carrier aware of the situation.

Step 3: Get Your Client in the Office or on the Phone

Email is not an option for delivering truly bad news unless that is the only way to communicate with your client. Email is impersonal, not conversational, and fails to get the job done. This is especially true when you are having a conversation that may fundamentally change (or even end) your relationship with your client.

I recently had a client who was only available via email. With that in mind, I made the decision to deliver some bad news via email. It did not go well. This torpedoed our working relationship despite efforts to pull it back from the abyss.

The bad news created a rift, and the rift grew bigger because of the delivery method. You cannot explain things in an email the same way you can over the phone or in person. If this conversation had occurred over the phone, I could have attempted to course correct before it was too late.

Let’s be fair, this will not be a fun conversation. But I suspect the meeting will go much better if you have the courage to look your client in the eye and tell them you made a mistake (or at least tell them over the phone).

Step 4: Fall on Your Sword and Explain the Options

“Remember the person you are apologizing to is someone that relied on you.”

“I made a mistake.”

That’s how you start the conversation with your client. Not with “yeah, so, I’ve been super busy and my admin forgot to tell me about the hearing,” or, “my personal life has been a mess and I’m just not thinking straight.”

Sure, you can explain yourself. But own up to it first. There’s nothing worse than an insincere or utterly BS apology. Remember the person you are apologizing to is someone who relied on you. They can also potentially sue you. To be fair, you may have an ethical responsibility under rules 1.4 and 1.7 to notify them of a potential malpractice claim and that they have to consent in writing to your continued representation.

In other words: you can’t hide that from your client.

That said, who do you think is more likely to sue you: a client to whom you provided an honest apology, or a client you strung along with excuses? Ultimately, it may not make a difference, but I’m relatively certain that being honest is the best option. Don’t forget that your clients are human too—we all make mistakes. People who own up to them are much easier to forgive than people who try to cover them up.

Beyond that, you have to tell your client how your mistake will impact the case and how you intend to fix it. Unless you blew the statute of limitations (and potentially even then), there is usually more than one option.

Regardless what the options are, be sure you know them before you talk to your client. There is an approximately 0% chance your client will have faith in you if you say, “I made a mistake, but I don’t know how to fix it.” There is a big difference between not knowing the best way to fix it and not having a plan to fix it. There is a 100% greater likelihood that your client will stick with you if you have a plan.

Step 5: Get Over It

You will screw up. It will suck. But you have to move on and do your job.

Regardless of whether you made a minor mistake or a venti-triple-shot mistake, you have to put it behind you. To be fair, our job is to be meticulous, analytical, and get results for our clients. But we screw up. Everyone screws up. I’m sure I made at least 27 typos in this post before someone edited it.1

Great lawyers shake it off and get right back in the game. If you cannot get past your mistake, then you should consider voluntarily withdrawing from the case.

If your client is sticking with you, pull it together. Although you are not obligated to double your efforts, hopefully your ego and moral compass are both screaming “let’s fix this.”

Moving forward, learn from your mistake. The best thing about making a mistake is that you should (hopefully) never make the same mistake again.

Randall sues debt collectors that harass consumers, assists consumers with student loan issues, and defends consumers in debt collection lawsuits. He is also an attorney instructor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

How to Keep Your Solo Practice Sustainable and Lean - By Randall Ryder (

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One of the biggest issues for solo attorneys, especially new ones, is figuring out how to balance the books and keep overhead costs low. Here are six ways to reduce costs and keep your firm profitable.

Be a Minimalist

“When you start your practice, you should worry about two things besides taking care of your clients: keeping the lights on and paying yourself consistently.”

I’ve been running my own firm for nearly four years, and I’ve seen countless other firms open and close within that time frame.

The number one mistake these firms make is adding overhead that’s not necessary. Typically, a new solo gets a really nice (and expensive) office in a prime location without having any business. Or a new solo hires an administrative assistant before they can really afford one.

When you start your practice, you should worry about two things besides taking care of your clients: keeping the lights on and paying yourself consistently.

At the start of your practice, you will probably spend a lot of time sitting in your office, waiting, and hoping that the phone will ring. There is no need to pay someone else to sit there with you. And do not assume that a good month or two means you have hit the jackpot and are ready for the big time. Wait until you have had a string of good months before you deciding to upgrade your office or hire a part-time assistant.

Stop Killing Trees

Running a paperless office will save you money.

You can rent a smaller office because you don’t need extra storage space for files. Generally speaking, less space means lower rent. And instead of having a big office in the suburbs, you can pay the same for a smaller office in a prime location.

You will also save money on paper and postage. Mailing briefs, client information, and bills gets more and more expensive every year. Fax service is usually perfectly acceptable, which mean you can use an e-fax services. When I serve documents in state court, I fax it and email a courtesy copy. That saves money on postage and paper. Plus, I don’t have to walk to the mailbox.

Another advantage of running a paperless firm is that you can work remotely. I don’t need to come into my office to pick up the Smith file — everything is scanned and stored on my hard drive. I also don’t need to come into my office because I need to print and mail something.

The only caveat here is that you will need to spend around $425 up front to buy a ScanSnap, but that cost will pay for itself within a matter of months with the money you will save elsewhere.

Find Alternative Research Sources

I admit I miss the ease and utility of Westlaw. At the same time, I do not have any desire to pay the rates that Westlaw charges.

Through my state bar association, I have access to Fastcase. It is not as robust as Westlaw, but it certainly gets the job done. Google Scholar, a free option, also appears to be getting better by the day. If you practice in a niche area, your bar association may offer a free service to deliver recent opinions via email. That will help you stay on top of the most recent case law in your practice area.

Check around to see what other options are available to you, especially if your practice is not motion-practice heavy. Chances are good you can survive without paying a ton for research. And if you find yourself in a pinch, you can always use the public access terminal at the law library.

Tackle Your Own Administrative Tasks

I’m not particular fond of doing my own bookkeeping, opening and closing files, running to the bank, etc. At the same time, if I hired someone else to do these tedious tasks, I’d have to pay them, which is a huge increase in overhead. Quite frankly, some months my firm could afford that expense, and other months it would be a problem. Until I get to the point where the firm is overflowing with money (wishful thinking), I’m not hiring anyone.1

On the plus side, tackling my own administrative tasks means I know exactly how my firm’s finances look month-to-month. Knowing this about my firm helps me adjust my workflow and overheard as needed.

For example, if the trust account is getting low, then it’s time to revisit clients on retainer and make sure they refresh their retainers. If the cases need to be closed, then I need to spend time closing those files and pound the pavement for some new clients.

Answer Your Own Phone

I have always been a big proponent of answering your own phone. After using Call Ruby for the majority of this year, I’ll probably go back to answering my own calls for these reasons:

It’s not cheap to pay someone else to answer your phone.

If you are using a virtual answering service, they will not do much more than take a message or provide your voicemail. If the caller is a potential client, you still have to talk to them.

In my practice area, clients want to talk to an attorney ASAP. They might leave a message with an answering service or on your voicemail, but by the time you call them back they may have found someone else. It doesn’t make sense to pay someone to take messages for potential clients who will always remain potential clients.

If your marketing is well-targeted, you should want to talk to every potential client who calls you because you are the best person to help them. You are also in the best position to evaluate if they are a good client with a good case. Having someone else do that will save time in the short run, but will cost you time and money in the long run.

Write Your Own Website Content

A great way to plant a seed about your services before you even meet your next client, is to write great website content.

If you outsource someone else to write your copy, it’s not the same. One, you are paying for it. And if you’re not paying much, it’s probably not very good content. 

Two, go look at a few law firm websites, and I bet you can tell who writes their own copy. From what I’ve heard from prospective clients, they can tell too. 

Outsourced material (especially stuff written by marketing/social media “experts”) reads like a sales pitch. If you write it yourself, it will come across like you know what you are doing.

Running your own solo firm comes with numerous benefits and lots of new responsibilities. Make sure you can keep your solo practice running until it succeeds by keeping costs down and overhead low.

I do hire outside help to prepare my taxes. But I do my own accounting and bookkeeping. It can get annoying. A couple of times a year I have to come in on a Saturday morning for a few hours to do billing and balance the books.

Randall sues debt collectors that harass consumers, assists consumers with student loan issues, and defends consumers in debt collection lawsuits. He is also an attorney instructor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

x x x."

Our Easter Prayer for Filipino Voters

May Easter resurrect Filipino voters from greed, hate and ignorance.

May they detest greed by courageously refusing to sell their sacred votes.

May they reject hate by seeing adverse political camps with compassion and understanding.

May they overcome ignorance by searching the truth behind the facade of self-serving press (praise) releases, paid television advertisements, and dishonest social media memes of candidates.

May their sense of patriotism inspire them to expose and oppose warlordism, feudalism, dynastic rule, corruption, and patronage politics in their localities.

May they be liberated from poverty, inequality, disease, exploitation, and injustice.

May the Word and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the Buddhas in the World of the Spirits grant them hope, faith, charity and patience in their Pilgrimage. .


Names can be corrected through judicial or administrative proceedings | The Manila Times Online

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Administrative correction of birth certificate refers to the remedy provided under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9048, as amended, where an error in a birth certificate is rectified without going to court. 

Rather, the petition is filed directly with the concerned civil register where the birth was recorded who has the power to make the necessary correction even without a court order. 

The remedy is available to correct clerical or typographical errors in writing, copying, transcribing or typing which are harmless and innocuous, visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected or changed by reference to other existing record or records (Sec. 2(3), R.A. No. 9048, as amended). 

In case the error is in the first name or nickname, administrative correction is also allowed should the name be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce, or the new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the person and he has been publicly known by that name, or to avoid confusion. (Sec. 4, Id.)

If the error in the name does not fall under any of the mentioned categories, then judicial correction of error in the birth certificate must be resorted to. 

In such a case, the applicant is required to file a verified petition in the Regional Trial Court of the place where the concerned civil register is located, i.e. where the birth was recorded, and follow the procedure outlined in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court to effect the necessary correction.

The second remedy that you may avail is to adopt the registered name appearing in your birth certificate and correct your employment record with the government. 

Choosing this remedy would mean that you will drop the name you have been habitually using and instead use your registered name. 

To avail of this remedy, a request for correction of personal information should be filed with the Civil Service Commission, unless the request is filed earlier than five years from mandatory retirement of the concerned employee, in which case the application should be filed with the appropriate CSC regional office. 

Note, however, that all requests for correction of personal information must be filed not later than one year before the applicant’s expected date of retirement (Sec. 90, Rule 18, Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service).

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Philippine citizenship: From jus soli to jus sanguinis

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Filomeno V. Aguilar Jr., professor,  Department of History and Project Director at the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University.

The recent Supreme Court decision on Grace Poehas made many legal minds raise the question of whether or not they still knew the law as they had learned it in law school. Although the High Court’s decision is acceptable to a majority of the electorate as a recent survey reveals, many lawyers find it hard to accept the decision, which they believe throws the book on citizenship out the window. For instance, that foundlings are presumed natural-born Filipinos is unprecedented.

This case reminds us that citizenship is not a static, but rather a dynamic, political concept. New legislation may be enacted – such as, in 2003, RA 9225, “An Act Making the Citizenship of Philippine Citizens Who Acquire Foreign Citizenship Permanent” – which changes the rules of political membership. But the law need not be changed for a different reading to surface. The same law can be interpreted differently under a new set of circumstances.

Today, we take it for granted that the Philippines follows the principle ofjus sanguinis (law of the blood) to determine citizenship, but in the first half of the 20th century, the principle of jus soli (law of the soil) was once regnant.

In fact, the 1899 Malolos Constitution enunciated jus soli as the principle of citizenship, declaring that Filipinos included “all persons born on Filipino territory.” Malolos was remarkably inclusive. However, the US military invasion of the Philippines truncated the Malolos Republic and left no opportunity to probe its tenets on citizenship before a court of law.

The invention of Philippine citizenship came with the Philippine Bill of 1902, signed into law on July 1, 1902, to become the country’s “first organic act.” Section 4 stipulated that the “inhabitants” of the Philippine Islands who were Spanish subjects on April 11, 1899, the date when the Treaty of Paris was proclaimed as duly ratified by both Spain and the United States, became “citizens of the Philippine Islands” (unless one opted for Spanish nationality). Philippine citizenship was a direct successor to Spanish subjecthood. The diverse populations in the country at that time thus acquired Philippine citizenship, a political status they could pass on to their children – suggesting jus sanguinis as one of the means to determine Philippine citizenship.

The original provision in the Philippine Bill of 1902 was retained in Section 2 of the Jones Law, or the Philippine Autonomy Act, which was signed into law in 1916. It also devolved authority to the Philippine Assembly to enact a law on Philippine citizenship within the parameters of US law for persons inadvertently excluded by the Philippine Bill. The legislature then declared persons born in the Philippine Islands as its citizens, aside from those already considered Filipino citizens by virtue of the 1902 and 1916 legislations.

However, as early as 1911, the Philippine Supreme Court had already begun to apply the principle of jus soli and grant Philippine citizenship to persons with “Chinese” fathers and “Filipino” mothers, usually travelers from China who were prohibited by local authorities from entering the country based on the Chinese Exclusion Laws. Among several cases, only two will be noted here: those of Benito Muñoz and Tranquilino Roa.


The Supreme Court first enunciated jus soli citizenship in the case of Benito Muñoz, who was born in Camalig, Albay, on January 17, 1880. Muñoz was denied admission in January 1911 as he returned to the Philippines from China, where his Chinese father and Filipina mother had sent him when he was 11 years old.

Muñoz asserted he was a “native and citizen” of the Philippines and “presented satisfactory proof that he would have returned sooner to the Philippine Islands had it not been for certain financial difficulties, and that he had never intended to expatriate himself and had never taken any active steps to that end.”

The Court ruled on November 23, 1911, that Muñoz was a Philippine citizen. The Court also emphasized that Muñoz, who stayed in China for some twenty years until he was 31 years old, had the “honest” intention to return to the Philippines (“the animus revertendi existed”).

Tranquilino Roa, who was born in Luculan, Mindanao, on July 6, 1889, was similarly denied entry as he returned to the Philippines from China in October 1910.

Roa’s father went to China in 1895 and died there 5 years later. His “Filipina” mother later sent him to China to study “and always with the intention of returning” to the Philippines, which he did in 1910 before he reached his 21st birthday.

In its October 30, 1912 decision, the Supreme Court declared Roa a citizen of the Philippine Islands “and never having expatriated himself, he still remains a citizen of this country.” We note that in these two cases, being in a foreign country did not mean expatriation.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Roa’s case advanced an interpretation of Section 4 of the Philippine Bill that “the doctrine or principle of citizenship by place of birth which prevails in the United States was extended to the Philippine Islands, but with limitations.” The Court argued that Section 4 “must be read according to its spirit and intent….It is to be given that construction which best comports with the principles of reason and justice.”

The Court cited approvingly a previous US Supreme Court decision that “no principle has been more repeatedly announced by the judicial tribunals of the country, and more constantly acted upon, than that the leaning, in questions of citizenship, should always be in favor of the claimant of it.”

Following this principle, the Supreme Court of the Philippines espoused a compassionate reading of Section 4 of the Philippine Bill. It asserted that to construe this provision as preventing Roa’s return to the Philippines “would have the effect of excluding the appellant from his native country, from home and all that home means, from his mother, brothers, and sisters, and compel him to live in practically a strange country and among strange people.”

The Court suggested that, in addition to birth in the territory, personal sentiments and affection and familial ties were implicated in the principle of political belonging.

Wong Kim Ark

The Filipino and American justices of the Supreme Court exemplified liberality throughout the period of US colonial rule. The case decisions indicate that they were drawing from the “activist” or “reformist” edge of the US Supreme Court, exemplified in its March 1898 decision on the case of Wong Kim Ark, born in San Francisco in 1873 of Chinese parents who, although legal migrants, were ineligible for naturalization. The Court’s recognition of Wong’s US citizenship contradicted the prevailing public sentiment and anti-Sinicism that were fueling the Chinese Exclusion Laws at the time. 

The landmark case of Wong Kim Ark exerted a powerful jurisprudential influence on the Philippine Supreme Court, its invocation made all the more stark by the parallel exclusion laws that immigrants confronted in both the Philippines and the United States. The force of this jurisprudence moved justices in the Philippines to uphold “the principles of reason and justice” by insisting on the extension of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Philippines as the spirit of the law. The High Court thus contradicted the earlier stance of the US Congress and the executive branch, particularly the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department.

In the convention that was called to draft the 1935 Constitution there was spirited debate on the two principles of citizenship. Advocates of jus sanguinis raised the specter of those born in the country of foreign parentage who would use Philippine citizenship to steal the “national patrimony.” One’s real political sentiments, it was believed, resided “in the blood,” which gave one a set of immutable personal as well as political characteristics. The 1935 Charter enshrined jus sanguinis.

Sea change

The tide of legal opinion was undergoing a sea change, which would culminate in 1947, when the Supreme Court closed Tan Chong’s case. Records indicate that Jose Tan Chong was born in San Pablo, Laguna, in July 1915, of a “Chinese” father named Tan Chong Hong and a “Filipino” mother named Antonia Mangahis. His parents took him to China in 1925 when he was 10 years old, and he returned to the Philippines on January 25, 1940, when he was 24 years old. He was denied entry for being a Chinese citizen, a decision affirmed by the Secretary of Labor who ordered his deportation.

On October 15, 1941 the Supreme Court – with an all-Filipino bench but still under US jurisdiction – affirmed the judgment of the lower court that Tan Chong, “having been born in the Philippines before the approval of our [1935] Constitution, of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, is a Filipino citizen.” The Court also noted that Tan Chong’s delayed return to the Philippines was due to “his father [who] would not allow him to come, and he did not have the means to pay for his transportation back to the Philippines until the date of his return.”

A week after the Court issued its decision, the solicitor general filed a motion for reconsideration, contending that Tan Chong was not a citizen based on the laws at the time of his birth. The war intervened before the case could be resolved, destroying the records that had to be reconstituted in 1946.

On September 16, 1947, the Supreme Court – now of the formally independent Republic of the Philippines – proceeded to resolve the prewar motion for reconsideration.

It admitted: “In a long line of decisions, this Court has held that the principle of jus soli applies in this jurisdiction.” But after providing a different reading of previous case decisions, it proceeded to assert, “While birth is an important element of citizenship, it alone does not make a person a citizen of the country of his birth.” Jose Tan Chong, then 32 years old, was declared not a citizen of the Philippines. One could only speculate that, had the case been resolved prior to the war, Tan Chong would have been declared a Filipino citizen.

In 1947, the Supreme Court argued that the US tenet of jus soli embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment was never extended to the Philippines. It rendered a different reading of Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902 as amended in 1912. Reinterpreting the same legal texts but in a different context, the Supreme Court abandoned jus soli. The book on citizenship that had been in use was thrown out of the window.

Jus sanguinis has since been the regnant principle in Philippine citizenship. But as this highly condensed history suggests, invoking “the principles of reason and justice” does not occur in a vacuum. Whatever is deemed absolute about citizenship holds only for a given time and place. It is open to change given the predominating spirit of the times. –

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Filomeno V. Aguilar Jr is professor in the Department of History and Project Director at the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), both in the School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University. An extended discussion may be found in Between the Letter and Spirit of the Law: Ethnic Chinese and Philippine Citizenship by Jus Soli, 1899-1947 published in Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 49, no. 3 (2011): 431–463.

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On Grace Poe: "If the Court arrived at an agreement – insofar as numbers go – that the Comelec had gravely abused its discretion in disqualifying Poe, but could not agree on the issue of her nationality and residence – the very grounds for disqualification – what then was the basis for the finding of “grave abuse of discretion”?" - Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino (

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Future case?

But there is something more ominous in respect to the case of Grace Poe, because if the issues of nationality and residence have not been definitively resolved – as the IBP statement usefully points out — then these can be raised, should she be elected, in a proper action before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal in appropriate proceedings, presumably, quo warranto.

There is something very strange here. If the Court arrived at an agreement – insofar as numbers go – that the Comelec had gravely abused its discretion in disqualifying Poe, but could not agree on the issue of her nationality and residence – the very grounds for disqualification – what then was the basis for the finding of “grave abuse of discretion”?

COURT VICTORY. Senator Grace Poe at the Supreme Court. File photo by Rappler

It will be remembered that that magical phrase – “grave abuse of discretion” – has a determinate meaning: not mistake, not error, not even abuse of discretion, but abuse so wanton, so glaring, so whimsical, so despotic as to amount to a perversion of fair play and due process!

The following then is a summary of the Court’s position — as interpreted by the IBP: Go ahead, Ms. Poe, run for the presidency. Should you get elected, we will listen once more to the arguments for and against your disqualification on the grounds of nationality and residence. Then, we shall decide whether or not you are qualified.

If that is so, that is one compelling reason for not voting her to office: the distinct possibility that we shall be electing one to the highest office of the land who is not qualified to hold office! –

The author is Dean, Graduate School of Law, San Beda College.

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‘With lawyers like ours, who needs criminals?’ | Inquirer Opinion


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It is a fact of life in these parts that in every scam unearthed and denounced, there is always a law firm behind it. 

At no other time was this made more evident than during the dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos. 

One of the biggest law firms was put in harness to set up layers upon layers of dummy or shell corporations to hide the true ownership of ill-gotten wealth.

Those lawyers were so smart such that government agents tasked to look for that wealth often found themselves facing a blank wall! 

Ask any lawyer and he will tell you, without batting an eyelash, which law firm that was. Hint: It’s still one of the biggest law firms in town and still raking it in! 

It has gotten away with all those shenanigans. 

That encouraged many other law firms to follow suit and grab their share of other crooks’ loot.

Now comes this headline news which reported that “Vice President Jejomar Binay’s law firm sent more than P100 million to a Hong Kong company using the same remittance agency embroiled in the alleged $81-million money laundering scheme under investigation in the Senate” (“Binay sent P100M to HK via Philrem,” Front Page, 3/17/16). 

 According to the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the law firm involved in that money-laundering scandal is “Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay.”

This is alarming. 

Given the magnitude of the thievery, it sends the message that many lawyers are themselves scoundrels in cahoots with crooks! 

 Their oath is to pay obedience to the law, not to make a mockery of it. 

 What has the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to say about this? 

What has the Supreme Court to say about this? 

Is not an investigation into the possible criminal misdeeds of the lawyers in that firm warranted? 

Shouldn’t those found guilty of taking part in those crimes disbarred? 

Why is the bar (no pun intended) so low when it comes to measuring the honor and integrity of lawyers? 

As the saying goes, with lawyers like ours, who needs criminals?


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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Naturalization Proceedings; income requirement

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In the case at bar, the controversy revolves around respondent Ong’s compliance with the qualification found in Section 2, fourth paragraph of the Revised Naturalization Law, which provides:

SECTION 2. Qualifications. – Subject to section four of this Act, any person having the following qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by naturalization:

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Fourth. He must own real estate in the Philippines worth not less than five thousand pesos, Philippine currency, or must have some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;

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“Based on jurisprudence, the qualification of “some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation” means “not only that the person having the employment gets enough for his ordinary necessities in life. It must be shown that the employment gives one an income such that there is an appreciable margin of his income over his expenses as to be able to provide for an adequate support in the event of unemployment, sickness, or disability to work and thus avoid one’s becoming the object of charity or a public charge.” His income should permit “him and the members of his family to live with reasonable comfort, in accordance with the prevailing standard of living, and consistently with the demands of human dignity, at this stage of our civilization.”

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“The paucity of evidence is unmistakable upon a reading of the trial court’s decision. The trial court held that respondent Ong “is a businessman engaged in lawful trade and business since 1989” but did not cite the evidence, which supports such finding. After poring over the records, the Court finds that the reason for the lack of citation is the absence of evidence to support such conclusion. The trial court’s conclusion that Ong has been a businessman since 1989 is only an assertion found in Ong’s petition for naturalization. But, on the witness stand, Ong did not affirm this assertion. Instead, he testified that he had been a businessman since he graduated from college, which was in 1978.

Further, the trial court, citing Exhibits U, V, W, and X (which are Ong’s tax returns), mistakenly found that Ong “derives an average annual income of more than One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos.” This conclusion is not supported by the evidence. The cited tax returns show that Ong’s gross annual income for the years 1994 to 1997 were P60,000.00, P118,000.00, P118,000.00, and P128,000.00, respectively. The average annual income from these tax returns is P106,000.00 only, not P150,000.00 as the trial court held. It appears that the trial court again derived its conclusion from an assertion in Ong’s petition, but not from the evidence.

As for the CA, it no longer ruled on the question whether Ong has a known business or trade. Instead, it ruled on the issue whether Ong’s income, as evidenced by his tax returns, can be considered lucrative in 1996. In determining this issue, the CA considered the ages of Ong’s children, the income that he earned in 1996, and the fact that Ong’s wife was also employed at that time. It then concluded that there is an appreciable margin of Ong’s income over his expenses.

The Court finds the appellate court’s decision erroneous. First, it should not have included the spouse’s income in its assessment of Ong’s lucrative income. Second, it failed to consider the following circumstances which have a bearing on Ong’s expenses vis-à-vis his income: (a) that Ong does not own real property; (b) that his proven average gross annual income around the time of his application, which was only P106,000.00, had to provide for the education of his four minor children; and (c) that Ong’s children were all studying in exclusive private schools in Cebu City. Third, the CA did not explain how it arrived at the conclusion that Ong’s income had an appreciable margin over his known expenses.

Ong’s gross income might have been sufficient to meet his family’s basic needs, but there is simply no sufficient proof that it was enough to create an appreciable margin of income over expenses. Without an appreciable margin of his income over his family’s expenses, his income cannot be expected to provide him and his family “with adequate support in the event of unemployment, sickness, or disability to work.”

Clearly, therefore, respondent Ong failed to prove that he possesses the qualification of a known lucrative trade provided in Section 2, fourth paragraph, of the Revised Naturalization Law.”

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See - 


R.A. No. 9262 shall be liberally construed to promote the protection and safety of victims of violence against women and their children

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Finally, Section 4 of R.A. No. 9262 calls for a liberal construction of the law, thus:

SEC. 4. Construction. – This Act shall be liberally construed to promote the protection and safety of victims of violence against women and their children. (Emphasis supplied)

It bears mention that the intent of the statute is the law and that this intent must be effectuated by the courts. In the present case, the express language of R.A. No. 9262 reflects the intent of the legislature for liberal construction as will best ensure the attainment of the object of the law according to its true intent, meaning and spirit – the protection and safety of victims of violence against women and children.

Thus, contrary to the RTC’s pronouncement, the maxim “expressio unios est exclusio alterius” finds no application here. It must be remembered that this maxim is only an “ancillary rule of statutory construction.” It is not of universal application. Neither is it conclusive. It should be applied only as a means of discovering legislative intent which is not otherwise manifest and should not be permitted to defeat the plainly indicated purpose of the legislature.”

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