I’m writing this post in response to those who have written me and left comments here regarding law school. I hope that my anecdotes, insights and thoughts in general about the pursuit of a legal career will help you find your way to being a lawyer someday. Please remember, though, that I am speaking from my own personal experience and am not an authority on the subject matter beyond the fact that I was once a law student myself.
It has been almost 20 years since I took the entrance exam for the College of Law of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo School of Law. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I didn’t take any other entrance exams. It wasn’t that I was sure I would pass either or both entrance exams, but rather because I told myself that if I didn’t make it in either one, I didn’t feel like continuing with my pursuit of higher studies. (Okay, the truth was, “I knew deep in my heart” as former Dean Cynthia Del Castillo used to say in her lectures, that I was bound to pass at least one of the two.)
I was still in UP Manila trying to wrap things up when I started preparing for the law entrance exams. I made a conscious effort to do word power exercises in the months prior to the exams. My goal was two-fold — to jog my brain and train it to think faster, and to sharpen and enhance my vocabulary because both exams were heavy on this. With some parts of the tests giving you only 10 seconds or so to think of the word meaning or in some instances, its opposite, it was important to be able to do definitions by context or at least by being able to make an intelligent guess.
Etymology was key. Many words we have never heard of sound vaguely familiar because some part of it is rooted in another word we know. Most word powers were focused on attacking vocabulary enrichment by educating the reader on word history. So for months and months I did word power books, did them again after I had gone through 6-8 pocketbooks and kept reading.
Like most aptitude examinations, this wasn’t really something you could study for. You could prepare for it, but if you didn’t have the knowledge or inclination they were seeking out, you had a less than fair chance of passing. The tests are structured in such a way that it would “see” you faking your way through it by guessing the answers. And how can you possibly go around the essays? Both required one essay at the end of the battery of exams, and I would think that they are still required to this day. After all, it is essential for a lawyer to write coherently. Even sans the legalese, one must be able to demonstrate an ability to write.
I can still hear Atty. Victor Alimurong who gave us our orientation saying “If you have no English, shift to music.” It was a punchline that sent us laughing, although it had more truth in the guise of something said in jest. Does this mean that those who are “grammatically challenged” should shy away from taking the law entrance exams? I think not. But I do agree with Atty. Alimurong that it is essential, given that the Bar examinations are giving in English.
I have always believed that anything can be learned if you put your heart and mind to it. If you feel that you do not have the ammunition to hurdle the English requirement, brushing up by reading voraciously and actively seeking out classes or self-help books that will help you brush up are readily available if you seek them out.
The choice to take up Law is one that doesn’t come like a bulb suddenly turning on in the darkness. It is usually something that one decides on after careful thinking. The first hurdle is to take the entrance examinations. If you can make it through that, then you are well on your way to seeking out a dream. Good luck to all those law school hopefuls out there.. just put your best foot forward and let’s keep our fingers crossed you make it.
Related posts (Links added October 26, 2012)