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The lawyers of tomorrow on the world of today

Compiled by KERRY TINGA, JULES VIVAS, JESSICA PAG-IWAYAN, and DOM GALEON

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When the bar exam results were released on April 29, thousands of examinees found themselves reloading their computer screens, a change from the tradition of going to the Supreme Court grounds to view their results. That is just one of the many ways their world has changed between when they took the bar exams back in November and today.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who is the chairperson for the 2020 Bar examination, reminded the new lawyers that “every privilege comes with responsibility.”

These young lawyers are now beginning to internalize the responsibility they now hold, a responsibility that may seem different from what they imagined months ago.

We ask several recent bar passers how the Covid-19 pandemic and the current situation in the Philippines have re-affirmed or changed their view of what it means to be a lawyer and what that represents in the Philippines?

It has re-affirmed my view. The current situation presents new challenges for all sectors and the lawyers will have to take new perspectives and approaches in identifying issues, reaching out to clients, and working with government agencies, but the role of a lawyer remains. —Princess Fatima Parahiman, University of the East. Parahiman placed second at the bar.

Crisis breeds lawlessness. In a crisis, there may be desperation from the powerless, and exploitation from the powerful. This pandemic has made more prominent the challenges we already have as a country: human rights violations, inequality of access to facilities, and the government’s inclination toward punitive measures rather than the rehabilitative and reformative ones. Lawyers, equipped with the knowledge of both procedural and substantive laws, should be at the forefront of safeguarding constitutionally guaranteed rights and ensure that the government serves the Filipino people in general, and not selected private interests. Together with other members of society, the medical professionals, the non-medical frontliners, the activists, and the policymakers, a lawyer is equally important. Covid-19 did not just affirm, but it even strengthened, a lawyer’s indispensable role in our society. —Kenneth Manuel, University of Sto. Tomas. Manuel placed sixth at the bar.

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Tomic Apacible

Yes. Being a lawyer is not just about being adept with current laws and jurisprudence. We are humans first, professionals second. A lawyer should strive to be a good human being before anything else. Recent events have taught me that lawyers must act in favor of public interest and seek what is just, not merely what is legal. —Tomic Apacible, Ateneo University. Apacible is the assistant city administrator of Pasig City.

No. There’s always injustice in society. The Philippine judiciary is also on edge. There are also questions of accountability and credibility for many lawyers today. Thus, my ultimate desire to be a lawyer remains. I wish to be an instrument of God’s love and mercy through lawyering. I want to uphold the principles of this profession and help society regain its confidence in the judiciary and in our legal system. —Aloi Renz P. Santos, University of Santo Tomas.

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Martin Alfonso

No. My view on what it means to be a lawyer did not change given this pandemic. In truth, now more than ever, I have a stronger resolve to be the kind of lawyer I was taught to become at De La Salle University. Through our former Dean, Atty. Chel Diokno, I gained my perspective of what a lawyer should be. In his various speeches, he shares his father’s message that a lawyer should be one that seeks true justice through the rule of law. Especially in times “when the constitution is invoked to justify the outrages against freedom, truth, and justice, when democracy is destroyed under the pretext of saving it, the law is not only denied–it is perverted.” We, soon to be members of the bar, must step up and strive to become great lawyers who are good and who pursue and uplift the true spirit of the law. In this time, this country is in need of more great lawyers who uphold the true spirit of the law.­ —Martin Alfonso, De La Salle University.

As a bar passer, I am reminded of the settled rule that the practice of law is a privilege. The people look up to lawyers as models of justice and righteousness, whether they act as professionals or as private citizens. But the prestige attached to the title “attorney” is burdened with continuing responsibilities, including, but not limited to, upholding the law, serving clients with competence, and exhibiting good moral character. The foregoing, to my mind, is what it means to be a lawyer in the Philippines. Regardless of the prevailing situation in the Philippines, the professional and ethical standards expected of a lawyer remain the same, only the manner of carrying out a lawyer’s duties may vary. For us bar passers, as we approach the new normal, it is up to us to make use of this privilege for the greater good. —Jan Gabriel Ramos, San Beda University.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/11/the-lawyers-of-tomorrow-on-the-world-of-today/)

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