cram time: thoughts on the bar examinations, inter alia

i almost forgot to blog about it, but september is always an auspicious time for me and my ilk, because although my month of horrors took place 6 years ago, the memory of those successive sundays when my mother's wonderful and unbelievable cooking tasted like paper, and my heart threatened to jump right out of my chest are still as fresh and new to me as this morning's glass of florida's natural orange juice (with pulp). in 2002, i took the bar examinations at the st. miguel hall in DLSU taft. those were very long, tense, and intense sundays filled with paranoia, prayers, superstitions, hurried reviews, and (sometimes overly) well wishing supporters camping out at taft. at the time, there were only very few starbucks cafés, but i never spent an hour of study inside one, or anything similar, because there were far too many distractions: piped-in music, people passing by, conversations of strangers. even if you plugged your ears or drowned yourself with your own music, there really was no way to focus completely on studying the law. i preferred to do it in the UP law library, normally on the first floor, which itself already had too many distractions, the UP law student lounge, and at home, between 11pm and 3am. whenever members of my family were inclined to watch late-night television, i'd just step out of my room, ask for the volume to be turned down, and allowed all these voices in my head to drive me crazy.

until now, i never get how some people can soak on coffee at all these cafés and study. i mean, i see them lifting their eyes from their books to see who's just entered, or who just passed by, or if someone said something. it's not as if you could tell those people: excuse me, could you be more quiet, i'm trying to study. besides, my friends and i have been told exactly the same thing at our own law library. so i often stare with amusement at people who do study at coffee shops. just last week, i caught a glimpse of two girls reading codals and those familiar annotated books with their maroon hard-bound covers. when i came in for closer inspection, i noticed that they had some review materials from some school's bar operations. i wanted to know the subject, whether they were already gearing up for the first sunday, which in my time consisted of constitutional law in the morning, and civil law in the afternoon. they might have noticed i was looking, because they lifted their heads and looked at me.

caught red-eyed, i just basically smiled and said: are you taking the bar next week? they both nodded, and i said: well good luck. i know the feeling. i've been there. then, i hurriedly left the 24-hour restaurant where they were studying. haha. i got a big kick out of that. i'd say good luck to everyone but i personally do not know anyone who's going to take the bar. all i really care about is that someone from UP should end up on top. but then i'd be the first to say also that few of our professors really prepared us for just passing the bar. we were trained for far greater things, and passing the bar was somewhat already expected from the high quality of education at UP law, and also because most UP students have the necessary skills to pass the exams. honestly though, why do we need more lawyers?

speaking of the bar examinations and the legal profession, when i was a new lawyer, i was really irritated by 2 things:

  1. when people ask, after learning that i'm a lawyer, how many times i took the bar before i passed. i took the damn thing once! later, i realized that these people probably know very few lawyers, and that these lawyers must have struggled through another round of bar examinations (or more) before taking their oaths. so to their minds, taking the bar more than once is normal. if you think about it: our batch had a passing percentage of only 19%, so the odds of repeating are great!

  2. when people remark, after learning that i'm a lawyer, that i was too young to be a lawyer. i had just turned 26 when i took the bar, and the results were released a few months later (i still remember: february 28, 2003), and for me, that's not very young to start a career. but then again, as in number 1, these people probably know very few lawyers who pursued law immediately after college. it just irritates me in some degree because youth is often equated to inexperience and lack of skill, and you're not taken seriously. i really hate that.

nonetheless, to each his own. i'm no longer practicing law, and this seems to be the norm now -- far too many young lawyers are just itching to leave the legal profession and follow other pursuits. that's a good sign, since we can do with less lawyers, but a bad sign as well because these are the good ones! i shudder at the thought of our judiciary and legal institutions populated with mal-educated farts whose heads have been bloated by their insecurities. very scary thought. i'm only too glad that the SC acted swiftly and firmly on the CA debacle. there's hope still for this tired and jaded nation of ours.