HISTORY / BACKGROUND
The obligation of lawyers to undergo a program of continuing legal education program is sanctioned by Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when it states that “A lawyer should keep abreast of legal developments, participate in continuing legal education programs…”It is also deemed an integral part of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) mandate because Rule 139-A, Section 2 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
“The fundamental purposes of the Integrated Bar shall be to elevate the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively.”
Sometime in 1997, during the National Convention of Lawyers in Cebu City, then Associate Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. broached the idea of requiring mandatory continuing legal education for lawyers. While the idea had always been discussed and profounded in the past, no concrete action for its adoption was ever taken until 1999 when IBP Board of Governors, then headed by President Jose Aguila Grapilon, passed a Resolution adopting a draft of rules for MCLE. The IBP forwarded the draft to the Supreme Court which referred it to the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) for study and comment. The PHILJA recommendations were referred to the Supreme Court Committee on Legal Education, chaired by Justice Jose C. Vitug which further studied them. Finally, they were submitted to the Supreme Court and on August 22, 2000, the Court en banc adopted Bar Matter No. 850. Thereafter, on December 01, 2001, the Supreme Court approved the MCLE Implementing Regulations, which paved the way for its full implementation.
Bar Matter No. 850 provides the purpose of MCLE which is: “Continuing legal education is required of members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to ensure that throughout their career, they keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the standards of the practice of law.”
The MCLE is administered by a Governing Board composed by five (5) members, namely, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court as Chair, and four (4) members respectively nominated by the IBP, the Philippine Judicial Academy, a law center designated by the Supreme Court and associations of law schools and/or law professors.
The members of the Governing Board shall be of proven probity and integrity: They shall be appointed by the Supreme Court for a term of three (3) years and shall receive such compensation as may be determined by the Court.