EARLY Monday morning news flash: 80% flunked the 2009 Bar Exams.
Not such a good headline for a Monday morning, especially for those who took the exams last September. I know some of those who went through those four head-splitting, back-breaking, nerve-wracking, sanity-stealing (?!) Sundays of the bar – former students who toiled in blood, sweat and tears (figuratively for most examinees, I hope), and I wish them well.
I still have vivid memories of my own bar exams. I decided to enroll at a local, newly-established bar review center, because I had more faith in my former professors who would have in mind not only the income derived from the operations of a review center, but who, fresh from the victory of producing a bar top-notcher from our college, have the heart and soul to help us through the struggle. I just gave birth to our first baby the year before, and would have to balance my time between preparing for the bar, taking care of little Kayla and our family. It was all too tiring, at times depressing, but very challenging. I remember preparing my self-review schedule which was never followed, and missing my review sessions simply because I did not feel like listening that day (or that weekend). I felt a lot of pressure back then knowing I had to prove myself to others, what with being such a disappointment when I fell outrageously in love and got hitched midway through law school. Frankly though, I do not think I would have passed the bar if I studied only during the six months prior to taking it. I used to tell my (former) students it would not be enough to study ONLY during the six-month period preceding the bar. That is why it is called the RE-view, because presumably (hopefully) you have read the books and materials previously and would just view them again. For that reason, preparation for the bar starts during your freshman year in law school, not months before the actual bar exams. Looking back, I am glad that I had been a conscientious student, spending long hours reading the assigned cases and the volumes of codals and books assigned to us – oftentimes out of obligation than an honest-to-goodness passion for the law and the legal profession.
Ten years ago, exactly on my birthday, I earned that much coveted four-letter title before my name. Five years into private litigation and the next five in civil service, I cannot seem to determine that exact moment when I firmly resolved that I would be a lawyer, or why I should be one. It probably is due to the fact that I grew up among lawyers in my Mama’s office, sleeping in court rooms and watching trials when I get tired tinkering with typewriters (Mama served as a Cabanatuan City RTC stenographer for 30+ years) or was totally smitten by Al Pacino’s brilliant performance in “And Justice for All” (wait, isn’t that a movie on why you should NOT be a lawyer?), but I knew as soon as I chose my college degree course that law school would be an inevitable factor of the equation that is me. It is quite frustrating that I have never experienced a scene straight out of Grisham’s novels where I had, or could, outrageously bill my client $800 per hour (sometimes when I read his fiction I get dizzy just imagining the billings), but I do get the pleasure of helping out clients who come to my office for advice and assistance with all trust and confidence (more often than not, I should qualify) that I have wisdom and competence for their problems, however minute, or utterly absurd (there are days, I tell you) they may be. Oftentimes that is good enough reason for being where I am.
I wish this year’s examinees the best of luck. (firstname.lastname@example.org)