Most unforgettable bar exam ever

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Congratulations to the country’s 8,241 new lawyers.

Most of them are now full-fledged abogados and abogadas after taking their oath before the Supreme Court en banc and signing the roll of attorneys, the last two steps needed to be able to practice the legal profession in the country.

The regionalized signing of the roll of attorneys who took their oath last May 2 is scheduled until June 17 in the National Capital Region and Luzon, June 3 in the Visayas, and up to May 28 in Mindanao.

These men and women are remarkable. They took the country’s most difficult and most rigorous licensure examinations under the worst possible conditions, physically, mentally and emotionally. Most of them graduated in 2020, but could not become lawyers.

No bar examinations were held in 2020. The one that was supposed to be held in November 2020 was first postponed to November 2021 still due to the pandemic. It was again postponed to the four Sundays of Jan. 16, 23, 30 and Feb. 6, 2022. But the uncertainty did not end there.

The SC issued another order shortening the duration of the 2020-2021 bar examination from the traditional four consecutive Sundays to only two days, Jan. 23 and Jan. 25. The coverage of the exams was also reduced – from the usual eight subjects to only four sets of examinations due to the pandemic and the effects of Typhoon Odette in some areas of the country.

But because some examinees were either COVID-19 positive, or were living with someone who was positive, or were under quarantine due to a direct contact, bar chairman Justice Marvic Leonen again announced a rescheduling of the examinations to Feb. 4 and 6.

Imagine the number of times the examinees had to self-quarantine and provide a negative swab test result only to find out that the exams will be rescheduled once again. Imagine their worst fear, that either they may not be able to take the examination at all because their swab test shows a positive result or they are able to take the exam on the first day because of a negative test but could not go to the testing site on the second day of the exams because this time they are positive.

Then there is the digitalized format of the exam, the first bar examination to be conducted using such format.

More than 11,000 law graduates took the examinations in any of the 29 local testing sites all over the country, the largest group of examinees in our history.  While 11,790 were registered to take the exams, only 11,378 showed up.

Last April 12, the SC announced that 8,241 students passed the 2020-2021 bar exams, or a passing rate of 72.8 percent, the highest ever recorded since World War Two.

There was no announcement of the traditional top 10 or the bar topnotchers since it has been observed that this has resulted in an unhealthy comparison of and competition among law schools and graduates.

Justice Leonen explained that the removal of topnotchers was one of the reforms in the bar examinations which also included the recalibration of the grading system to avoid unnecessary competition for an artificial top 10, recognizing that the examinations are not a competition.

He said the system on pass, exemplary pass, and excellent pass without any ranking already recognizes effort without encouraging needless competition among individuals.

The 2020-2021 bar exam results, according to the bar chairman, also removed all references to “fail” as an important philosophical point. Those who did not make it were categorized as “did not finish” or “did not pass.”

As a result, 761 earned recognition for their exemplary performance after having obtained grades ranging from 85 to 90 percent, while 14 examinees with grades higher than 90 percent were categorized as excellent passers.

The longest serving bar chairman also said to provide feedback to legal education, the SC adopted a listing of law schools reflecting their categories based on a number of criteria, including most number of passers among first-time takers, most number of excellent passers, highest number of exemplary passers, among others. Schools were also categorized into four groups based on the number of bar examinees.

Allow me this time to congratulate all my former students, now lawyers, for surviving the “best bar exam” ever.

Tribute to mothers

A recent survey by leading digital payments company WorldRemit revealed that an overwhelming majority of Filipinos reach out to their mothers more than the survey average.

WorldRemit spoke to 3,000 customers across the Philippines, Australia and the US to understand the relationships that they have with their mothers.

More than 93 percent of Filipinos speak to their moms at least once a month and have reported knowing more details about their mother’s favorite things. About 77 percent see their mom on a monthly basis.

About 49 percent of Filipinos have sent their mother a gift in the last month, compared to the Americans’ 46 percent and Australians’ 41 percent. Seventy percent of Filipinos have participated in their mom’s favorite hobby in the past month as against Australia’s 31 percent and the US’ 39 percent while 69 percent have given their mom her favorite treat compared to 37 percent in Australia and 49 percent in the US.

The survey also showed that 40 percent of Filipinos sent their mother flowers in the past month as against 26 percent in the US and 17 percent in Australia.

WorldRemit country director for the Philippines Earl Melivo observed that here, Mother’s Day is a time to show moms appreciation for their hard work, dedication, and the care which they constantly provide. “At WorldRemit, we know people can’t always be in the same place as their loved ones, and we work to make it easy for those living overseas to return the care and safely send money back home with ease,” he said.

The survey was conducted from April 7-8, 2022 with 3,000 respondents.



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