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.