June is coming! Enrollment is ongoing in some universities. I visited my law school earlier this afternoon to process for my transcript of records and I saw familiar faces of law students lining up for the enrollment, holding tuition fee slips. (Hehehe)
The air of melancholy then surrounded me. I recalled my undergraduate program’s graduation up to the moment I graduated from law school. The 8+ years were so emotionally, physically, mentally, socially and financially stressful. On the other hand, those were the years that really made me a better person in so many ways. I learned to budget my time, money and energy; I developed friendships I know would last a lifetime; I gained new knowledge ordinary people should know in order to prevent being abused or used in this very modern society.
However, I never really intended to enter law school but because I was jobless when I graduated from college, I decided to take up law without knowing how hard it would be.
Thus, I am writing this article for those fresh college graduates who would like to become lawyers someday in order to help you assess yourself whether or not you are really willing, ready and capable to enter law school and overcome the hurdles during the four-year or four-year+ law school life.
Q1. Why would you like to become a lawyer?
-This is the question most of the professors ask on your first day as a first year law student. Why? It’s because they want to know whether you enrolled with your full commitment and willingness to sacrifice, and not because your parents want you to be lawyers like them or like your great great great grandfather.
Q2. How much are you willing to sacrifice?
-You must be ready to make sacrifices ie. watching TV, surfing the net, traveling abroad, dating every night with your bf/gf & a good long sleep
Q3. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, or children?
-If the answer is in the affirmative, let them know how important your time is. Make them understand that in order for you to pass all your subjects, you need 7 hours per day to study; and if you want to pass the bar, you need 10 hours per day to study… And you know, great foundation makes a strong condominium, thus, if you study very well since your first year in law school then you don’t have to worry during the bar exam.
Q4. What is a bar exam?
– Law professors say that this is the hardest exam in the Philippines. Out of 7000+ applicants of the bar, 6000+ would take the bar, but only 1000-2000+ will pass. The bar exam is the test conducted in order for a law graduate to qualify being a member of the bar, usually done every four Sundays of October or November of every year (this 2016 bar, it shall be the 4 Sundays of the month of November). But taking the bar exam is not enough, there is a need to sign the roll of attorneys in order for the bar passer to practice law.
Q5. Where should I enroll?
-It depends. If you have a law school near your residence, then you can go to such school, but if you want to study at the “top law schools”, then just google the Top Law Schools in the Philippines. However, the important thing to know is that no matter what law school you are in, expect the unexpected because there will always be “terror” professors or those whose IQ are above average and would really want their students to be like them or to top the bar in order to bring good name to the school…
Q6. What should I expect for the 4-year law school life?
First. You will gain friends most importantly those who will help you or bring you down. Why help? Because they will share notes or heard questions that would be asked during exams. Why bring you down? Because some of them are lazy (except during exam week) and may influence you to be one. Most of them are coming from rich families, so they want to hang out or watch movies or eat in expensive restaurants. These activities may diminish your study time as well as your money. 🙂
Second. Most of the professors are strict & demanding. Even a one-unit subject would require you to read 20-100 cases per day or require you to do court & community activities ie. jail visits, court observation, legal aid…added to conducting forum, seminar or intellectual debate activities. But don’t worry! These activities are often fun because you have your friends with you.
Third. You will spend most of your day in the school library. It’s not allowed to sleep there. Thus, you will drink coffee (a lot!). For the advantages & disadvantages of coffee I have read this article: health benefits of coffee and its disadvantages
Fourth. You need to read, read & read plus read more! There are 8 subjects in the bar (political law, labor law, civil law, taxation law, commercial law, criminal law, remedial law, legal ethics). In school, these 8 major subjects will be divided and sub-subjects will be given ie. in political law, you will also have Election Law & Public Officers as a subject or Public International Law; or in Civil Law, you will have Property as one subject, then Credit Transactions as another one & etc.
Fifth. You will experience failure along the way. It’s normal! You don’t need to feel so down. Most law students, if not all, experience failure either during quizzes, major exams or in one or more subjects. No need to cry all night & day. Instead, you need to move on immediately and strive harder by studying more. Read more but that doesn’t mean you need to read more books. Read more the book you are using. Read from cover to cover five (5) times. Don’t stop until you understand the provisions.
Sixth. During oral recitations, which will happen almost everyday from your first year to third year law school life, you really need to prepare beforehand. However, if you haven’t prepared, pray that you will not be called to those questions you’re not familiar with the answers. If you’re not lucky & called for recitation (mostly summary of the cases & related laws), if you were unable to answer & your professor insulted you to the highest level (which is normal), just accept it & learn from it. It’s really normal and most of your classmates will experience the same thing, unless, all of them are prepared.
Seventh. Most law schools have standards to achieve in order for then to continue its operation, ie. there must be bar passers. Thus, law schools may have policies like for example if you incur a six-unit or eight-unit failure, you will be kicked-out from such school (but don’t worry because you can still enroll to other law schools) or those schools where a fourth year law student should maintain a general average of 2.0 in order for him/her to graduate, otherwise, such student who incur 2.1 to 5.0 GWA shall not be allowed to graduate, thus not able to take the bar on his/her dream year. Again, this is just a challenge for you to do good & study more. No need to be afraid if you will study.
Q7. What should I do in order not to incur a failing grade?
-Actually, I don’t know. At first, I would like to say “you need to study hard” but FYI all law students are really studying very hard. It’s just that there are other factors in the universe leading such to fail. Thus, aside from studying very hard, I suggest you need to pray very hard (even lawyers are prayerful in their pleadings! Heheheh).
Q8. What are the books I need to read?
-Let us start with the codals. You need to buy the codals of the 8 bar subjects. All of them! They are very important because all laws are written there. Codals are just mini-books where most law schools require for you to have.
-Then these are some books most of the past law students read:
(By the way, I’m not advertising the books. I do not gain anything economically from the authors or publisher. I’m just stating what books I read)
1987 Constitution of the RP, A Commentary by Bernas;
Outline Reviewer by Nachura;
Political Law Reviewer by Suarez;
Fundamentals of PIL by Magallona
Bar Reviewer on Labor Law by Chan;
Labor Code with Comments & Cases Vol. I&II by Azucena;
Everyone’s Labor Code by Azucena;
Reviewer on Civil Law by Aquino;
Civil Code Annotated Vol. I-V by Paras;
Comments and Cases by De Leon;
Property Registration Decree & Related Laws by Agcaoili
Reviewer on Commercial Law by Sundiang Sr. & Aquino;
The Corporation Code by De Leon;
The Phil. NIL by De Leon;
The Insurance Code by De Leon;
Essentials of IPL by Salao
Reviewer on Taxation by Mamalateo;
Fundamentals by De Leon;
The Law on transfer & business taxation by De Leon;
NIRC (Annotated) Volume II by Sacdalan-Casasola
Book I&II by Reyes;
Notes & Cases on RPC & SPL by Boado
Criminal Procedure by Riano;
Civil Procedure Vol.1&2 by Riano;
Special Proceedings by Tabingan;
Remedial Law Compendium Books I&II by Regalado
Legal Ethics by Pineda
Legal & Judicial Ethics by Agpalo
Legal Counseling by Barte
Note: There are other books I’ve read but the above-listed are the ones which helped me survived in law school.
I hope I inspire you to study law at the same time provide you with things to expect. However, the things I experienced for the entire law school life cannot be written here. There’s a lot more to experience in law school! There are ups & downs along the way but still everything is worth it and you will realize that when you receive your diploma. Good Luck and God bless!
“If you ever think about giving up, think of the reason why you held on for so long” — Hayley Williams