Justice Hernando: We Need to Modernize Bar Admissions
December 3, 2022
“We need to modernize the manner in which we admit those who wish to join our profession if we are to keep up with the best practices that other legal jurisdictions observe and implement in their respective areas.”
This was underscored by Supreme Court Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Chairperson of the 2023 Bar Examinations, in his message during the third day of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Northern Luzon Regional Convention on December 3, 2022 at the Isabela Convention Center in Cauayan City, Isabela.
Justice Hernando shared that the Supreme Court En Banc had recently approved his recommendations to adopt a condensed coverage in the 2023 Bar Examinations, and to administer the same on September 17, 20, and 24 of next year instead of in November.
“Commercial Law and Taxation Law have been conjoined due to the close affinity between these two fields in legal practice,” said Justice Hernando, “where Remedial Law and Legal and Judicial Ethics with Practical Exercises were fused together as these subjects complement each other in actual practice.”
He further disclosed that there will now be a six-core subject Bar Exams, to be administered in three days spread across eight days in September 2023 “following the configuration of Sunday, Wednesday and Sunday, namely, Political and Public International Law, Commercial and Taxation Laws (on the 1st day), Civil Law, Labor Law and Social Legislation (2nd day), Criminal Law and Remedial Law, Legal and Judicial Ethics with Practical Exercises (3rd day).” Justice Hernando added that four hours will be allotted for each subject; that is, 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM.
Justice Hernando emphasized that the shift towards an earlier conduct of the Bar Examinations from November to September was not approved on a whim. He said that the rationale is to re-focus the study of law on the fourth-year review classes instead of on post-graduate Bar review.
“Just as important, it will also mean lesser review costs…More importantly, the new members of the Bar will have an opportunity for early employment and contribution to society,” he said.
The early release of Bar Examinations results would be complementary to an early conduct of the exams, expressed Justice Hernando. “We will therefore have aspirants to the profession earning their J.D. [Juris Doctor] degree, taking the Bar Exams, taking the oath and signing the roll of attorneys all in the same year.”
Justice Hernando likewise spoke on the introduction of a Bar candidate’s compliance with the Clinical Legal Education Program (CLEP) as a 2023 Bar Examinations pre-requisite.
“CLEP provides law students with practical knowledge, skills, and values necessary for the application of the law, delivery of competent legal services, and promotion of social justice and public interest,” he said. “The hope is that with CLEP, we will have skilled legal practitioners joining our profession at the outset.”
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo also addressed the IBP Northern Luzon officers and members, highlighting the role of the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI), the Supreme Court’s five-year reform program, in improving the entire Judiciary from the ground up.
Sharing that around 9,000 candidates completed the recently concluded localized and digitized 2022 Bar Examinations in 14 local testing centers nationwide, Chief Justice Gesmundo said that the Court has decided to pursue the conduct of all succeeding Bar Examinations under the new modality, in line with the SPJI’s drive towards running all of the judiciary’s adjudicative and administrative systems digitally.
“The high cost of litigation and lack of publicly-accessible information on the courts, judicial processes, and legal aid have hindered access to the courts by many,” lamented Chief Justice Gesmundo. “Thus, under our SPJI, we will enhance public access to information through the development and deployment of intelligent platforms for self-help services, public assistance, and public access to court-related information and services,” he said.
The Chief Justice shared that the Judiciary will strengthen its legal aid initiatives by revitalizing the IBP’s legal aid program and reinforcing the CLEP under Revised Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule, of the Rules of Court. “Towards this end, we launched, just five days ago, the National Summit on Legal Aid and just two days ago, the National Summit on Legal Education,” said Chief Justice Gesmundo.
“Truly, we recognize that the Court has a duty to evolve with the times, and to adopt technological advancements that will improve its service to the public and the fulfillment of its constitutional duties. While we are proud of the work we have done so far and the reforms we have already implemented and continue to implement, we know very well that it would still be a long and challenging journey ahead,” expressed the Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Gesmundo. Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Justice Hernando, and Justice Mario V. Lopez were among the guests of honor and keynote speakers at the ongoing IBP Northern Luzon Regional Convention, themed “IBP NorLu Road to 50: Looking Back with Pride, Moving Forward with a Purpose.”
While in the Cagayan Region, the Chief Justice and Justice Hernando, together with Court of Appeals Justice Raymond Reynold R. Lauigan, Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva, Assistant Court Administrator Maria Regina Adoracion Filomena M. Ignacio, and Assistant Court Administrator and Public Information Office Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka met the judges and personnel of the Tuguegarao Hall of Justice in Cagayan during a court visit on December 2, 2022.
Chief Justice Gesmundo also took the said opportunity to talk with litigants who were waiting for their respective hearings at the Tuguegarao Hall of Justice to listen to their concerns and feedback about the courts. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)