Another first: 2019 Bar passers take oath online
Kristine Joy Patag ( - June 25, 2020 - 4:33pm

MANILA, Philippines — The country's new lawyers for 2020 is not only a batch that would be known for the first that took oath virtually, but would start their career in the Judiciary amid a pandemic that has brought the world to its knees, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Estela Bernabe said.

The SC held a special en banc session on Thursday for the admission of the 2,103 passers of the 2019 Bar on the country’s roll of attorneys.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SC en banc allowed the conduct of oath-taking via online video conference, which was also televised on State-run PTV4.

Bernabe, 2019 Bar chair, challenged the new batch of lawyers to utilize their profession to “help society cope and move forward.” She stressed that it is now more than ever that the legal profession needs their “youthful exuberance, proficiency in new technologies and interconnected sense of community.”

“Harness all these qualities for the advancement of our profession with the brimming optimism that this, too, shall pass,” Bernabe also said.

RELATED: Philippines' new lawyers face a legal landscape shaped by technology and COVID-19

University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi alumna Mae Diane Azores emerged as the 2019 Bar topnotcher with a score of 91.0490%.

On the day of the release of the 2019 Bar exams, lawyer-hopefuls were told not to flock to the SC to know whether they passed the gruelling exams, in an effort to minimize movement. They, instead, turned to the SC website for the list of successful Bar takers.

A digital Bar exam?

After approving a regional Bar exam for the next year, the SC has also started to look into digitizing the licensure test for lawyers.

“First, we would remove inequities that are inherent to the Bar examinations,” Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, chair of the next Bar, said.

The 2020 Bar was postponed until 2021, and will be held in Manila and Cebu City, as opposed to only conducting it at the University of Santo Tomas.

“I have also been given the go signal to drive a project to examine the various digital platforms for a pilot test in computerizing the Bar, including how applicants answer the exam questions,” Leonen said.

The next Bar chair also said he would want to make Bar practices “more reasonable.” Leonen told the would-be lawyers that the Bar is just a “qualifying examination” that will “not measure your worth as a person.”

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