IT HAS been more than three decades since a graduate from University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) in Cebu City topped the Bar Examinations, and the school said it is optimistic that this accomplishment is just the beginning.
Paulo Batulan, a graduate of the USJ-R School of Law, placed eighth in the 2023 Bar Examinations, emerging as the sole topnotcher from Cebu. He achieved an average grade of 88.25 percent.
It has been 34 years since a USJ-R law graduate attained a top 10 ranking in the Bar Examinations. The last alumnus who made it was Jalilo O. dela Torre, who clinched the eighth spot during the 1989 Bar Examinations.
“This is just the beginning. We actually have introduced so many reforms. And I’m very happy because we are now starting to reap the fruits. This is only the beginning,” said Jonathan Capanas, dean of the School of Law.
Batulan is among the 3,812 successful examinees of the 2023 Bar Examinations, representing a passing rate of 36.77 percent out of a total of 10,372 examinees nationwide.
The 27-year-old lawyer intends to impart his knowledge by teaching at USJ-R.
Batulan followed in his father’s footsteps in pursuing a law degree. His father though was unable to complete law school due to work commitments.
From his first year in law school in 2019, Batulan said he created personal reviewers for each subject, summarizing the book contents and compiling case digests based on the syllabus. This practice significantly aided his exam preparations.
“Since day one until my fourth year, that had been my consistent practice,” Batulan said in Cebuano.
During his review, Batulan said he didn’t rely on materials provided by review centers due to time constraints. Instead, he relied on his own review materials aligned with the syllabus.
Batulan studied until the library closed during his first year. With the shift to online classes, the time saved from commuting between his job at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the university was utilized to prepare his review materials. He graduated this year.
Recognizing the challenges of law school, Batulan balanced his studies by dedicating extra time to spend with family on weekends.
“Burnout is entirely normal,” Batulan said.
Emphasizing the importance of mental health, Batulan urged people to prioritize their well-being, particularly their mental health.
While Batulan found most subjects manageable due to his thorough preparation and the comprehensive coverage by university instructors, he did encounter difficulty with labor law.
“When it came to labor law, I felt like I was laboring,” Batulan quipped.
Encouraging those who didn’t pass, Batulan advised perseverance, highlighting the investment of time and resources already made for the examination.
“Nabasa naman gyud ka, kaligo na lang (You’ve already taken the plunge, just keep swimming),” Batulan said.
He also advised aspiring lawyers that their journey commences with their decision to enroll in law school. Batulan aspires to teach at the School of Law after fulfilling a two-year tenure at the BIR.
USJ-R also secured the fourth position among top performing law schools with 51-100 candidates. Out of its 99 takers, 48 passed.