Legal Education — Where to go?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about the stats of traffic coming into my corner of the web.  It us true, however, that It doesn’t frazzle me that I only have 8 readers.  (Okay, 9 because you’re reading this.)  I principally look to see which part of the world the stragglers come from.  And part of the tracking identifies the search words or referrers to my site which I don’t really pay much mind to except when the traffic jumps dramatically.

Like the past few days.

One interesting search term that made me grin was “san beda law vs. ateneo law”.  Hmmmm… First of all, if it’s your first time to read my posts about law school, I have to be upfront and say I’m an Atenean.  I did take my pre-law in UP but as I have said many times, they didn’t want me, so I chose the school that took me in –  the Ateneo School of Law which was then in HV De La Costa.  (I know, I’m dating myself horribly because I pre-date the Rockwell era.)  I did take the entrance exam in San Beda as well.

So I’m presuming that whoever typed up those words was actually thinking of choosing between my alma mater and San Beda.  (I won’t even go to why UP wasn’t part of the choice.)

How do you choose the school where you will pursue your law degree?  Let’s presume that all things being equal — money (tuition) is not a problem, location is not an issue, and you pass the entrance examinations for both schools– and here you are trying to make a choice.

Again, I’d be biased, I’d go for Ateneo.  (And I did.)  I cannot, however, give an opinion on the better choice because I didn’t go to San Beda. I do have friends from there— some who had to leave before graduation and some who made it straight through. It IS a good school.

Now if you were working full time (which I was by the time I entered my sophomore year), I would tell you to pause a while and try to think of your personal circumstance beyond the pursuit of law alone.  Each university offers a unique curriculum of the law.  More unique still, is it’s faculty.  While the standards may vary as far as attendance and passing your courses are concerned,  (flashback to the dreaded quality percentile index or QPI in Ateneo then), you have to take into consideration how much time you are able to devote into this pursuit (full-time, semi-full time, or “let’s see how it goes”).

Let me spell out to you what you would have to take into consideration REGARDLESS of the school you choose:

1.  There is going to be a lot of reading — and I mean A LOT OF READING — not just in terms of the law itself, but more importantly, in terms of case assignments.  Law school isn’t one of those courses in college where you could wing it by analyzing the facts of history, or by reading the cliff notes version of the book assigned in English Lit, or where taking the profound analysis of imperialism as fact and arguing from that point will get you a 1.

2.  It is a costly pursuit wherever you go, from books to endless photocopying, no matter how much your tuition fee is.  Books:  Of course you can always beg, steal or borrow — then again, it means you can’t highlight the passages in the book or worse, you’d have to deal with the highlighting and notes of the one who owned it prior to you.  CASES: You can “live” in the library and read the cases in the original, but even that would not be enough time when you are assigned the mountain of cases for your Constitutional Law classes. CASE DIGESTS are easily obtainable but if you can’t borrow an existing copy, you’d have to pay for photocopying.  And if you land in Ateneo, you’d have to pony up a few bucks for the tie given the dress code.  (Is a tablet or laptop part of the wardrobe now?  It wasn’t during my time.)

3.  Being a serious pursuit, you will have to rearrange your life to accommodate the demands of studying the law.  For the party animals, you will still get to party and drink yourself to death occasionally (some more often than others), but you will find that you will have to substantially decrease the party quotient in your life.  If you’re a family man or a mother, you’d have to give up time with the kids or the family to make room for studying.   (Not totally, but to a certain degree.)  If you work, you’d have to carve out time to sneak in a case or a chapter or some codal provisions that need memorizing between meetings or what not.

Given all that, where do you go?  San Beda Law?  Ateneo Law? (Would I have gone to UP if they accepted me?  I would — and I’m saying that without batting an eyelash — but we digress.  The question is between San Beda Law or Ateneo Law.)

Some lawyers will tell you it isn’t really the law school but you, the student, who will determine your success in the legal field later on. I beg to differ and I also agree.

Before you kill yourself trying to decide between law schools, the more prudent thing to do is to take the law entrance exams and see where your smarts land you. It would be foolish to say “it’s Ateneo, San Beda or bust”. There’s UST Law, Arellano, PLM among others. You might land in UP, Ateneo or San Beda and find yourself being booted out for one reason or another and find yourself taking the Bar under the banner of Arellano as you come to the end of your journey.

My choice was any of my personal top 3– emphasis on PERSONAL: U.P., Ateneo or San Beda. In that order. But if none of them accepted me, I’d have tried other schools, too. Because being a lawyer was all I wanted to be. And if Ateneo had enough of me before I took the bar, I had a Plan B because I wasn’t giving up on my dream. After all, the dream was about being a lawyer, and being a law student was just a necessary part of it.

We all land where we are for a reason. It could be because it was God’s plan for us or simply because the universe said so. Go where your dream brings you, even if you would have preferred to be some place else.

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