Thinking about Law School?

I received another comment to what appears to be one of my more popular blog posts, Back When I was in Law School (March 31, 2006).  Although no e-mail nor website/blog URL was left by “taft”, I’m making an exception in dealing with this comment because I believe it deserves my two cents’ worth.

i enjoyed reading through it. By the way, I’m a college student from your rival school along taft ave. Before I was admitted in La Salle, I considered Ateneo as my dream school in college. Though, I have no regrets afterall. Now, I still have one year to finish my pre-law,economics, though I’m uncertain that I could pass either UP or Ateneo Law School because i really am not fluent in English especially when it comes to oral communication. I’ve been psyching up for a couple of days preparing for this. Can I have some advice how to admit in those law schools? Thanx!

I could have written this post without direct reference to this comment, but I’m reprinting it in toto to make a point.  Taft, I’m surprised you think that you have your doubts about either UP or Ateneo accepting you to their respective law schools.  I read your comment twice trying to search for proof that you “really am not fluent in English..”.  Your comment was written coherently.  It was not elegant prose but it made sense to me.  It can use some improvements but if I were to use this as my yardstick about your future in law school, I beg to disagree with your assessment of your English.  Save for the break in the penultimate sentence of the paragraph where you’re asking for advice, you’re okay.  I am thinking the lapse was because of haste to hit the submit button after writing the comment. 

Granting for the sake of argument that your English needs major brushing up, all hope is not lost.  My advice to you, though, is two-pronged.  If the idea is to improve your English, I would read Newsweek, Time and major dailies on a regular basis.  If you come across a word you don’t have the foggiest idea about, write it down and then make sure you check the meaning in the dictionary.  You have to make a conscious effort to learn English, and if that means reading more books and magazines, do it. 

As for preparing for the law entrance exams, you have time to brush up on your vocabulary in a more structured fashion.  I only took the entrance examinations for UP and Ateneo, and both exams were heavy on vocabulary exams under time pressure and an essay capped the test.  The reason why the exams are heavy on vocabulary is not just to see how well you know the English language, but more importantly, the tests are structured in such a way that it probes your facility or aptitude for legalese and legal concepts.  It also shows how fast you think which is way to see what you really know.  Ever heard of the phrase “top of mind”?  If you only had 5 or 10 seconds to see a word and make a choice out of four possible synonyms or antonyms, you wouldn’t be able to make a good guess unless you actually had an idea of what the word is about.

What I am about to suggest to you worked for me.  It not only helped me speed up my thinking and recall but it also enriched my vocabulary.  It helped me to make smart guesses about meanings of words that I never encountered before based on etymology.  If you know the meaning of part of the word, one of the choices will float above the others and you can make an intelligent guess.  Get word power books and read the text and do the tests.  Record your scores and do the tests again after working on another book or two.

I had gotten half a dozen books and worked through them the year before I took the entrance exams.  You don’t have to buy them brand new.  Check out the secondhand bookstores in Recto and try one.

If you don’t feel confident depending on the results of UP or Ateneo only, other schools like San Beda College and UST have good faculty bodies which can give you good legal training as well.

And let me make a confession here — back in college, my dream school was actually DLSU.  But when I told my Dad after I took the slew of college entrance exams, he said it was too far from our home in San Juan and the LRT construction back in 1983 would be a problem traffic-wise.  Then UP took me in although UP Manila was my second campus choice only.  You and I know that UP Manila lies on the same traffic route and is just literally blocks away from DLSU.  My Dad had his biases, so who cares about traffic if it’s UP, right?

Do not let your perceived liabilities affect your decision about going to law school.  I would make the investment of time and money to take the UP and Ateneo entrance exams because there is always the chance that you were wrong and one or both actually pick you.  The most important thing at the end of the day is whether you want to be a lawyer badly enough that you would be able to survive the rigors of law school.  I won’t kid you that any law school will do.  The training you will get those years before you take the Bar will matter when you finally sit down for the exams.

If you ever have the chance and if you want to indulge me this experiment, go to the Manila City Hall one morning, any day but Friday (because it is usually motion day so that’s a relatively dull day to be in the courts) and find out where the Regional trial court salas are.  Pick one and sit at the last row and watch the proceedings.  You will be surprised at how not every lawyer who stands up speaks fluently.  And do bear in mind that not all lawyers go into litigation.  I tried, but then I realized it wasn’t my cup of tea.  There are a lot of us who are lawyers but didn’t go into lawyering.  It depends on what you want to do with that “Atty.” before your name once you’re out in the real world that will decide which way you will go. 

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

Wine Tasting and a Picnic at Rivendell Winery


Left to right, top to bottom: Rivendell Tasting Room as viewed from their picnic grounds; Two bottles downed at the picnic; The art board at MUDD PUDDLE; Assorted bric-a-bracs in the Antique shop

Here’s a long-delayed promised post on the wine tasting and picnic Alan and I had with his colleagues and friends from the office end-July.  The pictures have been sitting in my USB key, and I had been hoping to finally write about it when I had successfully layouted the scrapbook pages, but I now know that digital scrapbooking can take a while so that will all have to wait.  (I am still working on the layouts of a birthday party Alan and I went to the day after that picnic.)

We’ve been going to Rivendell Winery in New Paltz (somewhere Upstate) for a while now.  Although we usually go wine tasting and wine shopping in the North Fork region of Long Island where our favorite wineries Pellegrini Vineyards and Pindar Vineyards are located, Rivendell’s rustic scenery makes it stand out as an ideal place to have a picnic and enjoy some good wines at the same time.

The owners of Rivendell are the same owners of Vintage New York in Manhattan.  This is the only wine store that is “exempt” from the state prohibition against wine stores being open on Sundays because it is considered a tourist attraction of sorts, being that it sells only New York wines.  (Or so that’s what we’ve been told.)  From your everyday table wines that are easy on the budget (merlots for under $10!) to the pricier varieties, there are accompanying cheeses and other pickings to go with the total wine experience. 

Between Alan and me, Alan is the oenophile and I just drink.  My taste goes for the fruitier rieslings or sweeter merlots while he goes for the more full bodied cabernets.  So he goes wine tasting and I pick out what I want based on what is recommended as being on the sweeter side.

There is a $5 fee to taste five varieties at the tasting bar, but this is refunded if you purchase $50 worth of wines.  A wine list is available and the wine pourers can make recommendations (think Sandra Oh doing this in the movie Sideways), and there are chilled bottles if you choose to grab a bottle and drink it in the picnic area outside.  (They can lend you wine glasses but we had brought our own in our picnic basket.)  Cheeses, crackers and other related pickings are also available for purchase.

I also recommend their tasting tour which I had done with my friend, Demi  (who writes in The Looney Bin), when she was here in the winter of 2003.  We paid a flat fee for which we were treated to a very educational tour of the winery beneath the tasting room and a full spread of cheese and fruit to go with the wines we tasted straight from the barrel.  (You get to keep your goblet as a souvenir.)  Check out their schedule of events for this and other happenings in Rivendell.

Alan and his friends had spread out the assignments for our picnic fare.  We brought the grapes and the smoked salmon, and the girls brought crackers, cheeses (we had brie galore!), meat cuts (straight from Dean & Deluca).   After two bottles, we were too full to even go for a real lunch as we had planned to have at the Gilded Otter, a microbrewery a short drive away.

Instead we headed for The Water Street Market to browse their quaint stores and have coffee at THE MUDD PUDDLE, a favorite stop for Alan and me despite the presence of the town Starbucks a few blocks down the street.  It has a very cozy ambience, very friendly and helpful staff, a corner where you can sit with friends to play games, chat, draw, or post your own art (poems, sketches, etc.) and a full bookshelf you can grab a book from to browse while enjoying your coffee.  The cafe also has a back door that opens to a back terrace not visible to the main shopping crowd but which makes for a quiet corner to sit and chat with friends during the cooler months of the year.

I spent most of my time at the Antique shop where I picked up some older postcards of Paris, and one that was actually postmarked 1910 (!).  I would’ve spend more time browsing the usual stores but there is something magical about going through merchandise you know is possibly much older than you.  There were a ton of postcards and other items for the avid collectors — some were more expensive than the usual price I get them for, but I am happy with the postcards I bought at 50cents each.

There were vintage jewelry and accessories, plates and ceramicware in different shapes and forms, quilts, pictures, magazines, books.  You just have to know what you want to make it a productive walk through the hundreds and hundreds of things on display.

Alan and I love strolling through the little town which gives you a hippie vibe, with the spirit of Woodstock (which isn’t too far away) lingering in the air.  There are new age shops, pubs, bars and similar stores catering to a sizeable college crowd with the campus not too far away.

I would’ve loved to stop by Ariel Booksellers behind Starbucks where they offer freecards on new releases and other promotional materials which I found very useful if not amusing.  (One time I picked up two-sided magnets advertising two books by the same author.)  They also have a postcard rack from where I have picked up New York postcards I wouldn’t have found in Manhattan, such as a map postcard of the Catskills.

If it’s an adult group you’re with, wine tasting and walking around New Paltz is a good day-long activity.  If you’re with the family and you have young children (I’m thinking of my blogfriend, Ces), I’d go apple picking and then go around town.  That’s a trip Upstate, relaxing New York style here in my corner of the world.

This Friday feels like Saturday

I can’t believe I’ve been on break for the whole week.  I have even resisted connecting to our corporate system but I will do that before Monday to trim my e-mail. It’s been a great time to recharge, surpassed only by the rejuvenation courtesy of the trip to Manila a few weeks back.

I’m even almost through reading MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA!  (Major accomplishment, if you ask me.)  I am actually enjoying the book immensely, more so now that I see where the differences with the movie lie.  There is a major departure from what we saw onscreen when things started to go awry because of the war.  I’m actually hooked and will probably read thorugh the night.

Alan and I took Angel to the Bathhouse here on Jones Beach for a quick dip in the kiddie pool.  We were there for just over an hour but had a lot of fun just clowning around with Angel in the foot-deep water.  He dug into his ice cream with gusto and then slept through our afternoon errands.  I’ve done the grocery, so that’s one off my list for the weekend.

I was hoping to spend time here in the house over the weekend but we have a luncheon at a friend’s place in New Jersey tomorrow.  That means we’ll be there the rest of the day, so Sunday is my best bet.

I’m trying to make up my mind about which book I ought to choose for my next reading.  (I haven’t really looked for BLINK in earnest.. it’s just somewhere on my dresser.)  Maybe Bill Clinton’s MY LIFE?  I’ll let you know next week.