Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo today received a virtual courtesy call from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) where they discussed current and future judicial reform projects.
The USAID-ABA ROLI was led by Senior Democracy, Rights and Governance Specialist Mr. Gerardo Porta, Country Director Ms. Susan J. Cowley, Senior Program Manager Atty. Liezl Parajas, and Senior Program Officer Atty. Jadelee Marquez.
Also joining them virtually were Supreme Court Associate Justices Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Rosmari D. Carandang, Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, and Ricardo R. Rosario, and Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez.
Chief Justice Gesmundo, who was at the Supreme Court Division Hearing Room, was joined in person by Assistant Court Administrator and SC Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka and Judicial Program Reform Administrator Laura C.H. Del Rosario.
During the courtesy call, the Chief Justice acknowledged the support of ABA ROLI in the implementation of the current projects of the SC such as the ACCESS Project. The ACCESS Project aims to bolster the advancement of rule of law and enhance access to justice by providing legal awareness and legal aid services to vulnerable communities, supporting the institutionalization of pro bono legal services through integrated bar chapters, improve training programs for accredited mediators, and support the implementation and raise the awareness on recent Court reforms.
Among the future initiatives raised by ABA-ROLI is the tapping of Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Chapters to provide pro bono services.
Chief Justice Gesmundo, who welcomed the initiative, also suggested that local IBP Chapters should assist law schools, and work together.
The Chairperson of the 2019 Legal Education Summit (LES) Organizing Committee, Chief Justice Gesmundo briefly discussed what led the Court to promulgate A.M. No. 19-03-24-SC Rule 138-A Law Student Practice or the Revised Law Student Practice Rule (Revised Rule). He said that the Amendments were intended to ensure that law graduates are ready to practice should they pass the Bar and engage in litigation before the courts. This after the Committee learned in a survey from judges prior to the 2019 LES that law graduates are often not ready to appear in court proceedings because of inadequate preparations during law school.
The Chief Justice suggested that the IBP local chapter members can help law student practitioners write pleadings, present cases in court, and conduct examination of witnesses.
Furthermore, the Chief Justice suggested to ABA-ROLI how it can review existing training programs, in coordination with the Philippine Judicial Academy, redesign courses that focus on developing skills for judges and training for innovative approaches in teaching legal ethics.
Likewise, the Chief Justice cited the need for training in Court- Annexed Mediation to improve the skills of mediators. The ABA-ROLI welcomed the Chief Justice’s suggestions, adding that they were “incredibly useful.”