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Welcoming the ‘Best Bar Ever’ passers

Dennis Gorecho - Kuwentong Peyups

The 8,241 passers of the so-called “best bar ever” will now formally enter the legal profession.

It is dubbed  “best bar ever” because it is so far the largest in history with 11,790 registered examinees of the combined 2020 and 2021 batches after a two-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.   

Out of those who compose the 72.28 percent  passers,  around 14 bar takers earned recognition for having grades higher than 90 percent while 761 earned recognition for obtaining grades ranging from 85 percent to 90 percent.

The University of the Philippines produced the largest number of excellent takers at four, followed by the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and University of San Carlos (USC), which produced two each.

Among the group of biggest schools or those with over 100 first-time takers, ADMU had the highest passing rate at 99.6429 percent, followed by UP at 98.8406 percent, San Beda at 98.1061 percent, USC at 98 percent, and the University of Santo Tomas Manila at 93.0556 percent.

The bar exam is a yearly spectacle on the performance of law schools measured in the most number of topnotchers or those scoring the highest passing rates.

“SERVE the people. Do not betray your humanity,” words that should guide the new lawyers according to my UP Law professor and bar chairman Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen in one of his earlier twitter postings. “Discover your passion. Be patient and compassionate.”

 I was among the lucky 1,465 examinees who passed, or 39.63 percent out of the 3,697 examinees of the 1998 bar exams held in DLSU.

I belong to the working student program of UP Law as a reporter for the TODAY broadsheet and other international news agencies. I do my coverage during the day then attend my evening classes. I read my cases in the bus on the way home to Las Piñas from Diliman, always looking for the seat with the strongest headlight.

Traversing the path of legal education was hard to the exponential power, as we immersed ourselves in law books and cases, faced terror professors, pore through volumes and pages of SCRAs, lined up for photocopying at the law library, hurried through classes, reviewed and crammed through lessons, and survived recitations.

The bar exams is considered one of the toughest and most difficult among the professional board exams, having one of the highest mortality rates. Passing is obviously not that easy, it would entail a series of factors.

Justice Leonen gave an advice to the over 3,000 law graduates who did not make it: “Accept it as a challenge. That you did not make it, did not finish or were not able to take because of the pandemic does not constitute you. You are who you choose to be. Persevere, as always. Inspire by getting back on your feet and accomplish more.”

Atty. Bruce Rivera recently earned the ire of the legal community for mocking those who took the Bar exams more than once, indirectly alluding to Vice President Leni Robredo.

Paalala: Si Inday Sara passed the bar exams on her first try and was admitted to the bar in 2006. Pakitanong sa iba ilang beses sila kumuha ng bar exams.”

Presidential candidate Leni Robredo has been vocal about failing to pass the bar exams on her first try in 1992.

In a speech in 2017, Robredo explained that she was juggling being a mother to two kids and a teacher during that time.

“And as busy as I was being a politician’s wife, being a mother to two daughters already at that time, being a teacher, I took the bar exam without any preparation. And I just hoped for the best. When the results came out, my name was nowhere to be found on the list of passers. I failed on my first try,” Robredo said.

Rivera was criticized for indirectly insinuating that those who failed the bar exam on their first try are inferior to those who passed.

Former nationalist Claro M. Recto took the bar in 1913 and failed in his first attempt. He later passed the 1914 bar exam.

Yet he rose to become congressman, commissioner of education, senator and later associate justice of the Supreme Court.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt failed in his first New York Bar exam, while US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo failed five times before passing and went on to become an imminent jurist.

Ultimately, being a good lawyer is a different thing. Passing the bar is not enough. Performance in the bar does not define a lawyer in as much as passing the Bar in the first attempt does not define a good one.

There should be no hierarchy among lawyers. We all passed the Bar, we are all officers of the court and IBP members in good standing. What matters at the end of the day is our integrity and fealty to the rule of law.

There are those who join law offices for private practice, the government, judiciary, politics, and the academe, while others go into alternative lawyering.

“Honor and Excellence. Ours is a noble profession. Make that a reality,” Leonen added.

Lawyers, as professionals, are expected to uphold the ethical and moral values that are said to be essential to the fabric that holds society together.

Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail info@sapalovelez.com, or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.

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