The rivalry between the two foremost law schools in the country has been there since time immemorial. Funny how we sometimes have a “cross over” professor who has the distinction of being a teacher in both schools. Both are usually very parochial, sticking to their own roster of distinguished alumni to staff their faculty which is their pride and joy. While most of us hated our professors for their arrogance and condescension, I later appreciated all that they made us go through when I left school.
Of late, UP has been topping the Bar which is really no surprise at all. And while I have no access to the passing average, I know that Ateneo remains very consistent in having a higher passing average than the state university. UP will say it’s because from day 1 on, the Ateneans are taught to answer the Bar, and the state scholars are taught how to be lawyers out in the world.
It’s been a decade since I left the halls of the Ateneo School of Law, and it wasn’t the sprawling grounds in Rockwell then but that solitary building on H.V. De La Costa street. My choices for law school were only between UP and Ateneo, and I make no bones about the fact that I ended up in Ateneo because they saw something in me that UP didn’t. (That’s not sourgraping, that’s a fact.)
My days in law school saw me inventing study habits that I did not have in UP where I managed to coast through on my gift of gab and my ability to write. By my sophomore year, I was no longer being chauffered to school but commuting for the first time in my life — a nerve-wracking but humbling experience that eventually saw me skilled enough to cross the Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue end of EDSA in front of Dasma in my heels even late at night.
I entered law school after extending 2 years in college, so I somehow managed to have 2 years of world knowledge over my classmates. They were surprised to hear me defining what a “midnight decree” was when it was not in the text books — which was simply street smarts combined with my ability to say something coherent which sounded like it was memorized from some text book.
Right about the same time I learned how to commute, I started working part time to help me with the mounting expense of books, photocopying, and dressing up according to the Corporate attire requried by Ateneo. I also learned how to eat balot to help me keep my strenght up as I studied late into the night, waking up to hit school, then repeating that over again.
By my junior year, I was working full time and traveling to boot. There were days when I would come to class and would be unable to give an answer during recitation for the simple reason I wasn’t able to read the assignment. From working as a newscaster on RJFM to ending with a stint in an Advertising Agency before I took the Bar, I managed to supplement the costs of school as well by writing digests or summaries of the cases which were assigned by the professors, typing them up at work and then charging for the photocopying or print outs. It helped me study for the lessons in advance, write coherently and succintly and find some additional spending money.
One memorable part of being in law school is how I would fall in line in the cafeteria with my dear friends Onggie and Reagan, just to make lambing that Onggie get me the arroz caldo and Reagan get me the puto. One of the boys was behind us and asked in jest if I didn’t have any money, to which I replied that my payday was still a day away.
Those were humbling days indeed but I saw myself through law school somehow. Although I finished law school in 1994, I postponed taking the Bar because I did not have the resources nor the time to stop work and study full time for a heads on review. By 1995, my Mom begged me to take the Bar and told me that she knew God will provide. And she assured me just as any mother would that it would be alright if I didn’t make it.. the important thing was for me to try..
So I filed my application before the deadline in June, and I took a leave of absence from work only the week before the Bar month of September. (The Bar exams are 4 Sundays.) I will reserve the Bar Experience for another post, but suffice it to say that it was not an easy task, but I made it.
I never really practiced law but have dabbled in Corporate Communications instead. But in my heart and mind, I have achieved what I have always wanted to achieve — pass the Bar, and that is what makes me a lawyer, body and soul. When I came here to New York, I made an agreement with Alan that I was putting aside any legal aspirations as I wanted to start a family. Perhaps when Angel is grown up, I can go back to that one love.. for now, I have a greater love I’m nurturing. After all, I know deep inside me — once a lawyer, always a lawyer.
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