By Atty. Eduardo T. Reyes III
Today is the first day of the 2021-2022 Bar Examinations being rolled out on selected testing sites around the country.
Making the curve at Central Philippine University (CPU) in Jaro, Iloilo City when time struck at exactly 5:01 AM, a Friday (04 February 2022), to drop off my son who will be taking the daunting examinations, I could almost feel the deadened senses I felt when some twenty-three (23) years ago, I took on the same challenge that would change my life forever.
But not only my son. My students, whom I fondly call my “adopted children”, are taking the exams too. My eyes darted left and right looking for them at the drop-off spot.
Then it rained. (Which is unexpected as the trees’ tender branches suggest that summer is near).
I drove off while my mind raced somewhere, too.
This year’s Bar Examinations is one of a kind. It is pro hac vice (for this occasion only). By next year, when the pandemic has receded and is relegated to endemicity, this new rule may no longer be applied. Customarily, the eight subjects are dispensed as follows: Political Law and Labor Law for the first Sunday; Civil Law and Taxation Law on the second Sunday; Mercantile Law and Criminal Law on the third; and Remedial Law and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises on the last Sunday. By contrast, to address the perils of covid-19, the exams this time around are divided only into: The Law Pertaining to the State and its Relationship with its Citizens (formerly Political Law, Labor Law and Taxation Law) in the morning of February 04th and Criminal Law in the afternoon. While on Sunday (February 06th), the examinations will cover The Law Pertaining to Private Personal and Commercial Relations (formerly Civil Law and Commercial Law) in the morning and Procedure and Professional Ethics (formerly Remedial Law, Legal Ethics, and Practical Exercises) in the afternoon.
The number of bar takers this year also swelled to 8,546. This is because no Bar Exams were given in 2020 due to the surging pandemic. The original schedule of the exams was also transferred a couple of times which is redolent of the traffic in Edsa where you feel that you are “almost there but not quite”.
Then there is the possibility of infection amid the spread of the Omicron variant which reached a zenith when this year opened. The examinees had to be tested 48 hours before the tests began and must show a negative result.
The challenges were mounting. In their anxious minds, the examinees might have asked: how long can I stay healthy? Or sane?
Patience. This is one virtue which is essential to every lawyer. The law is not perfect. But it meets perfection when a patient and conscientious interpretation is congealed by the lawyer handling the case. True, it is the magistrates who hand down decisions that make jurisprudence; but it is the lawyer that starts from scratch. He/ she gathers the dust and molds it into a legal theory. In turn, the legal theory becomes case law when the Supreme Court gives it a nod.
Raindrop by raindrop. One case at a time. Lawyers are key in creating the social construct. The exams are not without meaning. Indeed, this is the society we live in. We need the synergy in terms of our relationship with the State even as we need harmony among fellow members in society.
Yet the legal profession can be glamorous. Most lawyers are called “rainmakers”. I agree. But not in terms of avarice or gain. I would rather that we dance with the law in tune with its music and not its noise. We touch people’s lives like gentle raindrops in the summer of their lives. The pandemic no doubt had made many people’s lives a seemingly endless summer that awaits the rain.
I reached my place at around 5:25 AM. It was not raining anymore.
Or maybe I spoke too soon.
I think it is still raining. And the rain will not stop because the rainmakers are on their way.
Let us flood society with more lawyers. Good ones who will significantly improve the relationship of the State to its citizens as well as among the citizens themselves.
Yes, we need more lawyers. May the heavens bring them with the rain. Let us be drenched with the good ones.
Let it rain some more.
(The author is the senior partner of ET Reyes III & Associates- a law firm based in Iloilo City. He is a litigation attorney, a law professor and a book author. His website is etriiilaw.com).