Yesterday, the yearly bar exam in La Salle has started and a lot of people are excited. And now it’s going near… The application for law school for the next school year has started and its entrance exam will start on October onwards. I’ve been thinking a lot lately regarding law school, if I should push through about my dream of becoming a lawyer or just look for a job related with my undergrad course, go to abroad for a couple of years and gain experience and have a happy life. What is good with my undergrad course is that I somehow like it. It is computer science but I can end up not just doing programming the whole day and to the next years. The demand for IT people and specifically to a network engineering specialization is quite high and the compensation is good. Anywhere you go, there is demand for people with IT courses even without experience yet. I think my future is secured with my course.
Why law school?
My undergrad course is not a good pre-law course and I have no background with what’s like taking up law courses. But my realization is that in this country, there are a lot of injustices. These injustices are brought by selfishness, poverty, greed of power and other bad virtues. The rights of a lot of people are being stepped on it hurts my heart and mind seeing them like that in television, news or even in my everyday life in the society. It’s really painful. And seeing those corrupt and bad people being put above the law and are saved from such punishment makes me angry very much. These mentioned realizations are my motivation for pursuing a law career. To help those people uphold their rights and defend them and to make those bad people get what they deserve under the law.
I then started my research on the legal education in the Philippines.
There are three consistent top law schools in the Philippines namely UP, Ateneo and San Beda. Their passing records are relatively high limiting my choices to these schools. These schools also produce well known lawyers in various fields which prove that they really make good graduates. The national passing rate for lawyers is extremely low averaging around 20%. I read some articles on law students’ experiences in law school. I learned that it’s very hard because it’s a very different discipline. You have to memorize a lot and you have to think critically very much all the time or else your life in the law school will end quickly. You have to be good in public speaking and passionate in your work. You need to sacrifice a lot of your time, your social life, your free time. I also started talking to some friends who are taking up law from different schools. Almost all of them told me they’re really struggling to survive. Some say that it’s a lot of memorization and it’s going to be a never ending memorization of laws. Some others say that a day is not enough to study and one got kicked and now at San Sebastian because of I don’t know reasons.
A part time law student is highly discouraged as told by current students who are taking up law stating that the study of law demands a lot of time. Chances of passing the bar are slimmer when you give less time studying (when in fact one friend even said she lacks time studying even if she’s a full time student). But my plan is to become a part time law student and work full time in an IT company so that I can use my skill I learned in my undergrad. Also, having a full time job will give me funding for my law school. There are schools like San Beda and UP that offer a 5-year night law program but classes are still held everyday. I realized that working from 8am-5pm and attending a law class from 6pm-9pm everyday is going to be very tiresome. Of course, I still need to study after class. So what’s going to be left of me? There is however, a law school that offers an executive program where it holds law classes only Saturday and Sunday: Arellano Law. It is not so popular like the top 3 schools I mentioned but it produces a lot of lawyers as well. In the last CHED statistics, I saw that Arellano Law was part of the top 10 law schools in the country. By the way, their law program is good for 5 years in a trimestral system like La Salle.
Talk about funding…
Computing the tuition and fees for the law school, it’s averaging around P40K per term. That’s just the units and the misc fees. I still don’t know about the expenses on materials which I think will also demand some attention since there are a lot of readings. Taking note of that, for a term that runs for 5 months (and 3 months for trimestral), I need to save P10K monthly. Well I think this kind of payment-saving scheme is feasible when I have work. I need some P400K to fund my whole law school ambition. And afterwards, I need to pass the bar or else, I cannot fulfill my role as a lawyer.
The reality of the Philippine justice system
First, as I researched, one of the reasons why the passing rate in the bar exam is very low is that there are really a vast number of laws that are implemented in the country and counting. You have to know each of them and you need to study a lot of cases. Moreover, there are strike rules by the Supreme Court that eliminate those people who have not passed the bar for several times. That’s why becoming a lawyer is like going through the eye of a needle.
Second, after passing the bar and becoming a lawyer, what’s next? Most lawyers practice their profession in different institutions. Others join existing law firms and others go to the academe. While new lawyers want a clean and just society, rich and greedy people have paid a lot to legal counsels to defend their unscrupulous deeds. Since they have the funds and resources and you try to defend innocent but poor and helpless people, being an ethical lawyer becomes an extra challenge. While some do the right thing, others are persuaded to be rich while stepping the fundamental essence of a lawyer. And that is evident here in the country. Even the judges are also paid if not threatened. My professor had shared some of these realities when a judge asked for a bribe to prolong the hearing of a case. Very terrible. And this judge happens to be a law professor in a reputable law school in the country.
I admire those good lawyers and judges who really dedicate their lives for the sake of justice. There are still a lot existing, though.
I really want to become a lawyer someday. But I have to face reality first. I need to save money first for my law profession in the future. I want to be part of a good system and I want to go to battle well prepared. I can help improve the country in this way. I believe.
Last August 23, the hostage crisis was due to a delay on justice in hearing the hostage taker’s case in the Ombudsman. It is injustice or delay of justice that is the root of it. In a column in the Philippine Star I learned that a lot of trial courts pile up their cases and a lot of it are not resolved as expected. Some courts even hear cases only in the morning making the cases pile up more. It makes the statement “Justice delayed is justice denied” true. I remember it was also stated that the case on the Marcoses is not yet resolved and other respondents are already dead. It’s already a 31-year old case and Imelda is now 81 y/o and a Congresswoman now.
Today, September 6, the headline in the Manila Times which shook my mind is about the Ampatuan Case. Sen. Joker Arroyo said that the case might take 200 years before it’s resolved because of so many respondents, witnesses etc. And knowing that the defense panel has been trying to delay the hearing, can justice still be served?
I want to learn about the law and I want to correct a rotten system so that peace can be attained. I want to be a part of the solution. Soon.