Cooperative for lawyers
BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - February 16, 2019 - 12:00am

It’s an awkward topic among lawyers, sort of an “elephant in the room,” glaringly obvious but is not mentioned. I’m referring to the need for financial literacy in the legal profession.

 

After my court hearing in Toledo City last Monday and before heading back to Cebu City, I dropped by the law office of my cousin and former law school classmate Atty. Glenn Cavada. During our conversation, I broached to him the idea of forming a multi-purpose cooperative for lawyers and other workers in the legal community.

The idea was first brought up to me by a most devoted and intellectually generous mentor in the legal profession, Atty. Paulino Labrado, during our talk last week with Atty. Ria Lidia Espina, CPA lawyer and vice president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Cebu Chapter.

In my talk with Glenn, we both shared our observation about some old lawyers who seem to be struggling financially in the twilight of their lives. “I know one who even died a poor man,” Glenn told me. We didn’t need to convince each other about the need for financial literacy in the legal profession.

“It should even be taught in law school,” Glenn suggested. In the legal profession, not just words but numbers too matter. For one, clients will benefit from a lawyer who can understand and speak the language of business and finance. Likewise, with financial literacy the lawyer himself or herself can build a stable law practice and lay good ground for the future.

As his law practice picks up pace, it is tempting for a lawyer to spend for one’s profligate comfort that newfound money flowing regularly in the form of acceptance and appearance fees – especially when so much hard work, long hours, and more mental stress come with those fees.

There’s also that need to buy a car, not only for mobility but also to serve as the lawyer’s mobile office, containing a stack of case folders, his or her barong, blazer or suit, some office supplies, a laptop, and even a printer. Younger lawyers are also expected to provide a decent shelter for their family and set aside funds to send their children to good schools.

This is where a cooperative for lawyers could come in, one that could provide a supportive environment to encourage savings and promote financial literacy among lawyers and their associates, including paralegals and clerks. A cooperative for lawyers can even teach solo law practitioners how to bill their clients and manage a budget.

The cooperative could provide emergency financial assistance, as well as affordable car and home financing schemes for young and old lawyers alike. This will be a better alternative to the usual loan interest rates and financing plans offered by banks.

I realized some years back that banks offer a miniscule interest for savings deposit. Since then, I’ve been setting aside some funds as investment in the stock market. Let me digress a bit by telling you that the Philippine Stock Exchange has been offering free weekly seminars in Cebu City about trading in the stock market, including basic stock market concepts and investment procedures. I attended one at the start of this year at the Insular Life Cebu building in Cebu Business Park. One notable thing I noticed was the relatively large number of young workers interested in stock investing.

Using an online broker, I sometimes trade actively, in stock trading parlance – buying low and selling high. The last two years, however, the performance of the market remained tepid, so as a long-term investor I remained mostly dormant during that period.

Had I placed some money in a cooperative during that time, I could have saved more and helped others in the community in the process. There are many cooperatives existing in the country, but it’s the cooperative closer to my field of work that certainly will attract me more.

I hope this idea to establish a cooperative for lawyers in Cebu will be realized soon. It can learn lessons from successful cooperatives like the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative which was founded in 1970 and steered into tremendous success under the leadership of the late Judge Esperanza F. Garcia.

Lastly, allow me to greet Ioseph Sebastien Cayton Cavada, son of proud father Atty. Glenn Cavada, on his sixth birthday yesterday. Ioseph is blessed to have a financially-literate father in Glenn.

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