The joys of MCLE

FIGHTING WORDS - Kay Malilong-Isberto - The Freeman

I spent four weekdays at the UP Diliman campus. I would have wanted to spend most of each day under one of the acacia trees ringing the Sunken Garden. The gnarled roots of any of those giant trees would have been an ideal spot to think about the close to twenty-two years that have passed since I saw the campus, fell in love with it, and decided that I did not want to study anywhere else.

Instead, for four days, I was at a cramped hall with at least 300 other lawyers who were trying to comply with the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirement of the Supreme Court and its looming 14 April 2013 deadline.

I know that the MCLE requirement has a lofty goal: to keep lawyers abreast of developments in law and jurisprudence. I suppose that thirty-six hours every three years is a reasonable estimate of how much time is needed to do that. I would have wanted to pick topics that I was interested in and attend lectures that I felt would improve my legal skills. That was what I did the first time the requirement was imposed. At that time, the librarian at the law office where I worked kept track of the seminars available and monitored the ones I attended to ensure that I completed everything that I needed to complete. The law office had messengers to pick up certificates of attendance I needed to attach to the sworn statement I needed to file. All I had to do was show up at the seminars, sit down, and have my attendance checked. The law office paid for everything, too.

Over the years, the MCLE providers have started offering seminars with all the topics required by the Supreme Court. Signing up for these bundled seminars would come out cheaper than choosing topics from different providers. Some providers even offered to notarize and file the necessary reports as part of the package fee. It was easy to succumb to the convenience of not dealing with several providers and of having someone else take care of the red tape. I forgot about my desire to learn new things about the law. I started to view the MCLE the same way I viewed a bikini wax before a trip to the beach: a necessity that had to be done as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Thirty-six hours of lectures spread out over four consecutive days seemed like the best solution.

I read somewhere that human beings can only pay attention to lectures for fifteen minutes. No matter how riveting the lecture is (or how good-looking the lecturer is), the mind just wanders. I can say with certainty that this is true for me. I spent the better part of the MCLE lectures trying to stay awake. I only have a vague recollection of the subjects that were discussed. Thankfully, we were given handouts and can (theoretically) read them at our convenience and (truly) stay abreast of legal developments.

For most of us, though, the best part of last week’s MCLE was not only the relief of knowing that we do not need to sit through more lectures for the next three years, but also seeing friends from college and law school, being in the campus where we spent our growing-up years, and eating copious amounts of fishball at the end of each day as we discussed just how much twenty-two years had changed us.


Email me at [email protected].



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