The project is generally intended to contribute to the upholding of the rule of law, which is the key result that the OSG pursues. To realize such ultimate objective, the project aims to help in ensuring that justice is effectively and efficiently administered. In particular, the project seeks to: (1) develop a rating system for quality evaluation and monitoring of pleadings; (2) assess and monitor systematically the quality of pleadings; (3) inform lawyers of their work performance based on the result of their ratings; (4) increase work motivation of lawyers; and (5) improve the quality of pleadings.
Background and Problem
The OSG is the law firm of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines with a mission to promote and protect the interest of the State and its people in legal proceedings and such matters requiring legal services. In general, OSG lawyers litigate cases and write pleadings being filed in court. However, an organizational assessment of the Office reveals that it has no internal system that evaluates and measures the quality of pleadings written by lawyers. Poignantly, in the absence of systematic evaluation on this aspect, lawyers may tend to become complacent in their work output, which, in turn, may adversely affect the quality of pleadings. Consequently, a mediocre pleading weakens the winning chance of a case and ultimately jeopardizes the legal interest of the Government of the Philippines or the People of the Philippines as the OSG’s client in legal proceedings.
Solution and Impact
To address the problem, this project was introduced in the Office. Apart from developing a rating system that would evaluate and monitor the quality of pleadings, it was also intended as a feedback mechanism to keep lawyers aware of their work performance based on the result of their ratings; increase their work motivation; and improve the quality of pleadings. Under the Rating System, a set of criteria with corresponding percentage is used as basis to assess the quality of pleadings. It consists of: (a) appreciation of facts and issues of the case (35%); (b) soundness and depth of arguments (45%); and presentation (20%). At the end of each month and quarter, the general weighted average (GWA) of all rated pleadings of a lawyer is obtained and serves as the monthly or quarterly rating of the lawyer, as the case may be, on the quality of his/her work output. The Assistant Solicitor General (ASG), as the rater, may also give remarks on the work output of lawyers. Consequently, after the pilot testing of the Rating System, it was found that lawyers were motivated to write quality pleadings as getting a high rating became an incentive for them to produce a well-written output. It also kept the lawyers aware of the quality of their output as the ratings given by the ASG put measure to the quality of their work. It also gave them an immediate feedback that helped them assess their strengths and weaknesses in legal writing, analyze their work output constantly and determine aspects that could be improved on. Pointedly, it assisted them in improving their legal writing skills and encouraged them to be cautious, efficient and creative in the presentation of their facts and arguments in a pleading. Significantly, the ASGs confirmed the effectiveness of the Rating System as they saw improvement in the quality of pleadings written by lawyers.
The project succeeded in: (1) coming up with a set of guidelines of rating system approved by the ASGs and the Solicitor General; (2) having the rating system fully implemented in a legal division; and (3) linking the rating system to the Strategic Performance Management System of lawyers as mandated by the Civil Service Commission.