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Construing the Miseducation

Construing the Miseducation

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Published by: priam gabriel d salidaga on Nov 23, 2011
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03/30/2012

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CONSTRUING THE “MISEDUCATION”OF THE FILIPINO LAWYER
byPorferio A. Salidaga, Jr.
In his article entitled, “ The Flunker: The Bar Examinations and the Miseducationof the Filipino Lawyer,” Florin T. Hilbay presents two specific proposals toreform the bar examinations in our country: first, the abolition of the batopnotcher tradition; and second, the substantial reduction of the number of bar examination subjects. He justifies such proposals with the following observationsand contentions:First, the number of bar examination subjects is staggering that it only results tostudents' superficial grasp of the constellation of legal materials through thememorization of trite canons, thereby inhibiting them the study of the politicalconsequences of legal materials, and making them unaware of what they imbibeconnects to larger patterns in the movements of ideas. The law schools, on theother hand, are left with no choice but to rigidly follow a list of subjects required topass the licensure examination, leaving little space for standard of scholarliness.Second, the crowding out by bar examination subjects of other possible courseofferings explains to a large extent the continuing atheoritical and un-empiricalnature of the legal profession in the Philippines. Legal education in thePhilippines has retained the vestiges of its Spanish colonial heritage – doctrinal,memory-based, and hierarchical.Third, the structure of the bar examinations assumes an overwhelming bias infavor of a specific kind of competence – the jack of all trade, master of none,doctrinal lawyer. And,Fourth, the bar topnotcher tradition is responsible for pervasive publicmisconception that the bar performance is a, if not “the,” polestar of legalexcellence.Hilbay's contention that the topnotcher tradition creates a misconception on legalexcellence is baseless. It is not different from an academic honor given to astudent who deserves it. It cannot be impractical because it may serve as aninspiration for those in line to strive harder. It may not also be taken asdiscriminatory against those who just merely passed the bar because it is nottaken against them by people who may need their legal assistance.
 
Hilbay's proposals, particularly the reduction of the bar examination subjects,though worthy of the contemplation by the Supreme Court, are largely groundedon assumptions and generalizations. Maybe scholarly, but they are devoid of scientific, or at least, statistical data lifted from Philippine experience to backthem up. From a human experience perspective, he may have been correct tosay that due to staggering number of examination subjects, law schools areconstructively obliged to rigidly follow a uniform law curriculum design, but as toits effect to the faculty or intelligence of students and teachers, that remains to beproven. Hilbay fails to present in a concrete manner the supposed effect of theabsence or presence of elective subjects to the intellectual dynamism of thestudy of law. And considering the drastic changes he offers, one cannot help butto be very strict in construing his generalizations and assumptions. These areproposals that could transform in astronomic way the ecology of law and itspractice in the Philippines, hence definitely affective to the interest of the Filipinopeople who will be subjects to the success or failure of such change.One generalization that is so rebuttable in terms of conclusiveness is hisstatement that: “The present rule mandating study of so many bar examinationsubjects effectively transforms intelligent young Filipinos into zombie walkingalong the corridors of law schools memorizing voluminous texts in order to passbar examination subjects.” Such observation may be partially true, but nottotally. Law students, yes, are pushed by circumstances of being as such, tomemorize voluminuous texts, but that does not make them zombies, because instudying law, memorizing without understanding is detrimental to passing the bar.Passing the bar, or simply passing a law subject for that matter, is not just allabout memorization. Memorization, in fact, is not one of the tools needed tohurdle the bar. What is needed are: language, analysis or logic, and law. Toimbibe law may need memorization, but it is just part and parcel of the wholepackage. It is not the tool itself; nor it is where the rivers meet.Our legal education may have retained the imprints of Spanish colonial heritage,however, that generalization again is inconclusive, giving no correlative value tothe effectiveness or ineffectiveness of law education. He is not able to prove inscientific manner that a doctrinal, memory-based, hierarchical legal education isobsolete and antithesis to growth. Systems are products of social, economic,cultural, and political milieu, including the standards, rules and regulations set bythe Supreme Court, and as to whether or not such system is still working is aquestion so complicated to answer. Pros and cons have to be weighed, withscientific data supposedly on grasp. Until such data are collected and presented,so-called proposals by Hilbay would remain as theories.Some theorists, including Hilbay, may insist that the concept of “jack of all trade”is already irrelevant in this modern world. Studies may prove that the “generalist

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Jesh Hernandez added this note
i fully agree with that short contention!!!

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