What you really need in order to pass the Bar exams

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - June 10, 2020 - 12:00am

Every year, an average of 8,000 Law graduates take the Bar, and out of them only 2,000 or an average of 25% make it. What is causing these high mortality rates? And what factors make them pass? I know the answers. I took the Bar without a review as I couldn’t afford it. But luckily, on the first attempt, I made it with a rating of 84.93. How did I do it?

The results of last year's Bar exams made me happy. The student I coached and mentored got the top two slot; Princess Fatima Pahariman, a Visayan-speaking Maranaw girl who worked while studying in the UE College of Law. I had been teaching there since 1986. Also, San Beda College Alabang, where I am likewise handling Labor Law. In 2002, my student in UST Law, Arlene Maneja got the first place with a rating of 92.9. I also honored in my hometown, Ronda, Cebu, a USC graduate, Marcley Augustus Natuel, who was top two in the 2018 Bar. He took his oath with my own son last year. I interviewed these topnotchers, and I gathered the answers to the many questions behind passing or flunking.

I discovered eight secrets for success in the Bar. First, the student must have complete mastery of all basic principles of law in all eight subjects, which include the fundamental elements, illustrative cases and landmark decisions. Second, the student must have a working familiarity with controlling doctrines and relate these with the codal provisions of all the eight subjects. Third, the student must have a high degree of discernment to distinguish the critical few essential aspects of law, compared to the trivial portions of such laws. Fourth, the student must have a well-developed capacity to memorize the most important principles and a systematic and orderly way to retain legal knowledge.

Fifth, the student must have prepared by himself, his own summary or general outline of all eight subjects: Political Law, Labor Law, Civil Law, Commercial Law, Criminal Law, Taxation, Remedial Law and Legal Ethics, including practical exercise. Sixth, and to me, this is very important, is high degree of linguistic power, command of the language. He must be fast and accurate in reading comprehension because time is limited and the problems are long. His power of expression must be well-honed, his words apt and his language graceful but penetrating. Seventh, he must have a logical thinking. His conclusions must be supported by law as the major premise and the facts as minor premise. Eighth, his penmanship must be legible and neat.

The reasons why barristers flunk are common but often ignored. First, the language is horrendous. The grammar is wrong, the spelling is grossly incorrect and the subject isn’t in agreement with the predicate. Some Bar candidates aren’t careful with their nouns and pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Their syntax is questionable and their logic is notoriously despicable. I’m sorry to say all these, but I’m very strict regarding language because I’m an English major. I think that my ability to express myself helped me a lot in passing as a first-timer. Law students cannot pass without excellence in language. This should be supplemented with a flawless handwriting and very graceful penmanship.

One cannot pass the Bar by relying only on fate or good luck. I have written the secrets in my latest book “The Ultimate Labor Law Compendium for Bar Excellence”. I’ve been teaching Law since 1977 when Vice Mayor Mike Rama was my student in the UV Gullas Law School. The next speaker of the House, Lord Alan Velasco, was under me in UST. Teaching for 43 years in various Law schools all over, I think I earned the right to tell aspirants what it takes to pass.

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