Senator Angara: ‘Superman-lawyer’ doesn’t fly anymore



The age of the all-knowing, expert “superman-lawyer” is over, according to Sen. Edgardo J. Angara.

Specialization, aggravated by globalization, “has pushed the great generalists to the side,” said Angara in a talk about the future of the teaching of law at the University of the Philippines College of Law on Friday.

UP Law, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, must adapt to the rapidly changing trends in the legal profession, most notably the shift toward specialization, Angara said in a lecture titled “Examining the Role of UP Law.”

Like doctors and engineers, more and more lawyers are being hired for their expertise in chosen fields rather than for being jacks-of-all-trades who try to master everything, said the senator, who chairs the UP Law Centennial Commission.

He quoted the 2010 Financial Times Global Education Report, which said: “In today’s world, the superman-lawyer—one who knows everything about anything (or at least claims to)—is viewed with skepticism and disregarded in favor of the specialist.”

“Those who know more about a narrower field, indeed, offer a tremendous advantage to business in legal conflicts. And if a business in legal trouble wants to cover its flanks, it should hire specialists in other fields,” Angara said.

“It is like that in warfare, and business is war,” he added.

For UP Law to continue producing graduates of the caliber of its distinguished alumni would largely depend on the college’s ability to “evolve its teaching methods to meet the changing and mounting challenges facing the practice of the profession,” Angara said.

UP Law counts among its graduates four presidents—Manuel Roxas, Jose P. Laurel, Elpidio Quirino and Ferdinand Marcos—three vice presidents, including the incumbent Jejomar Binay, and 12 chief justices of the Supreme Court. Eight incumbent senators, including Angara, are also alumni of the college.

Global law schools

Another challenge, the worst one facing the legal profession, has been the economic crisis of 2008 whose effects linger to this day, Angara said.

When the crisis hit, the first to go in corporate spending programs, after advertising, was the legal budget, he said.

“Frankly, it has always been like that. When a lawyer wins a case, the client thinks he was always right anyway. When a lawyer loses a case, it’s the lawyer’s fault for losing a winning cause,” he said, drawing chuckles from the audience that included legal luminaries, professors and law students.

As a result of advances in computer technology, law education is also “vulnerable to computerization,” he said, attributing this to the fact that “the law, by its nature, is and should be routine and repetitive.”

“Soon fields of legal learning and practice can be packaged and sold like movies on DVD or, worse, pirated versions,” he said.

The senator said there was no way to fight this trend but to go with it.

Angara pointed out that the Harvard Law School emphasizes its ability to offer joint degree programs, which allow students to earn another degree from any of its other professional schools, similar to the strategy of Yale Law School, which boasts an interdisciplinary approach to the teaching of law.

“This is the age of global law schools. Opportunities to study abroad are no longer a part of a grant but a component of the mainstream curriculum,” he said, citing Harvard Law’s exchange programs with schools in Tokyo, Geneva and Shanghai, among other places.

PH fears competition

Unfortunately, the Philippines remains untouched by this trend, Angara said.

“Philippine teaching and practice of law remain impervious to it. Our profession firmly discourages foreign entanglements. Foreign legal scholars may not teach credited courses in Philippine law schools, let alone practice before our courts,” he said.

“You can go, if you want, to take your master’s abroad, but it will have a negligible, if any, effect on your practice back home. You can take the bar in New York but not in Manila. The Philippine legal profession, despite its evident talents, fears international competition,” he said.

Angara challenged UP Law to adopt such novel approaches to the teaching of law. “I believe that this time, the UP College of Law can lead, rather than follow, in meeting these challenges,” he said.

To protect good men

He concluded his lecture with a reminder: “Law schools are not established to create great men for great moments, but to make excellent everyday lawyers to protect good men in the ordinary course of the law.”

“Those who, from that everyday but necessary vocation, rise to greatness will owe their eminence not to the school they attended, but to the conscience, values and wisdom they acquired on their own,” Angara said.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • parefrank

    Maybe Angara is correct. But why then the most unknowing lawyers are put as the prosecutors against Corona? They “know all” when facing media but very lilltle when facing the court. They only ride on the hope that in any case a majority of senators would toe to Noy’s wish and vote “guilty”, numatter there is proven evidence or not. And with a yellow mob shouting when they vote, always they will say “we just obey to the will of our biosses, the people”, whose mind we have prepared anti-Corona by using all legal and not so legal admin resources, money and media countrywide”.. We just did not tell that we all are Luisita linked Cojuangco lawyers who will earn hundreds of millions when the SC ruling is reversed, esp. the amount to pay, from less than 200 to 10000 million pesos tax money. And the usual lawyer fee is 20% or 2000 million. .

    • batangpaslit

      Kaya nga eh…nang nalaman ko na lawyers din pala ng Hacienda Luisita ang mga Prosecutors, natabangan na ako sa Impeachement proceedings.
      I have a distaste to midnight appointments, but I am equally distasteful if the motive of removing the CJ is not for truth, but to protect the ulterior interest of the Cojuancos’ over Hacienda Luisita.

  • tarikan

    Enough of this pontificating majesty of the law or whatever. I had all the praises on you until you drafted that first year high school drop out to run for PH president. Sen. Ed Angara, with all due respect, you are a brilliant lawyer and equally brilliant educator why in H**L did you subjugate knowledge/statesmanship to the undeserved worship of a movie celebrity? Had he not been robbed of victory, we would’ve had a prresident with practically an elementary grade school intellect. Don’t tell me he had been a consistent valedictorian? You could’ve been the man behind the king, the real deal, the real power. Well, FPJ’s & Susan’s photos on gov’t. office walls would have been a pleasant things to see, but they are just that…ornaments. The real president should have been Mr. Ed.

    • batangpaslit

      Natumbok mo, ‘Adre! Ang galing mo. You are a brilliant political analyst. Dapat, Ikaw ang susunod na Political Advisor or Director General, National Security Couscil sa susunod na Pangulo ng Pilipinas. You have the power to discern truth from falsehood, and the ability to articulate what is happening in the country.
      Saludo ako…

  • Ruben

    Angara should not speak like a clean man.  He was accused of cornering FPJ’s campaign funds donated by the Fil-Chinese Community.  After FPJ’s death, he brought out boxes of money from the FPJ campaign headquarter and are unaccounted for until this day.  He was suspected to have betrayed FPJ and caused his defeat.  He was also the one who gave his diary to Davide who used the diary to pin down Erap.  Angara and his family are also involved in illegal logging in Aurora Province.  Angara’s current girl is no other than Loren Legarda. 

    • batangpaslit

      I appreciate this expose.
      Angara is unmasked.
      I know about the betrayal of Angara against Erap, and the illegal logging. I had been to Dinglasan, Aurora and saw firsthand the backlash of Angara’s destructive activities.
      But the rest, the funds of FPJ and liaison with another Senator, I am not in privay.

  • anony mous

    Well the last time I checked the most notorious corrupt officials of the government came from UP. UP should close or revamp the college of Law, it is not living up to our expectations anymore (the people are subsidizing the university through our taxes and all we get are these MEDIOCRE graduates I’d rather let them focus on technology based courses) there’s no more pride graduating in UP, it was been long tarnished by the stains bought by those who came before us.

    • batangpaslit

      you can say it again. however, we still need good lawyers—ethical lawyers, who does not compromise truth for crass materialism.

  • Meeney Miney

    I had high regards for you senator until you put up FPJ to run for President. I hoped your son would be better but then with all the media antics of the impeachment prosecution team where he is a member, i know now that father and son are just like the rest. Plain TraPos.

    • batangpaslit

      So, I am, Bro. Of course, Mr Angara, thought, being the “Little President” as the Executive Secretary of Erap, he could run the country.
      Eventually, he end up betraying his benefactor…what an ungrateful world.

  • Batz61

    Mr. Angara… i hope you see and wipe off the sty in your eyes before you make such grand, pontificating statements as if…. hahahah … lawyers here to specialize? i hope they specialize first on being GOOD, HONEST, TRUTHFUL, SENSIBLE lawyers with definite amount of delicadeza… this is the kind of specialization our lawyers need. The specialization you are talking about will create more ABOGAGO lawyers who are BAYARAN of the rich, powerful and (in)famous. These ABOGAGO lawyers will only obliterate whatever or whoever is left of the good, honest, truthful and sensible lawyers in the country.

    • Ruben

      What Angara meant by specialized lawyer is one who specializes on something like “gapangan”.

    • batangpaslit

      What a commentary. It bites! A very apt feedback and risposte.
      Batz, I doff my hat.
      You are brave and true.

  • goldilock

    Current professional standard and work ethics is low. Reason it breads corrupt people.

    • batangpaslit


  • joboni96

    infotech can help
    generalist lawyers

    specialization just an excuse
    for higher fees

    what can you not know
    with organized infotech

    • batangpaslit

      natumbok mo, ‘Adre. buking si Angara….hahaha

  • Sarsi


    • batangpaslit

      umaangas ang Sari sa inis at galit


    SA Pilipinas, hindi na kailangan pang ipa-alam at sabihin yan dahil sa bayang ito, lahat ng mga Abu Gado ay SPECIALISTA na sa PANGINGIKIL ng mga kliyente nila!  Sa pagtanggap pa lang ng kaso ang UNANG-UNANG tinitingnan at tinitimbang nila ay KUNG MAGKANO ang malilimas nila sa ka-awa-awang kliyente.

    • batangpaslit

      I submt to your well thought out assessment, Your Honor.

      • UrHONOR

        Sustained, batangpaslit.

  • Rolando

    Gaano man ang pagkilala ninyo sa kanya: masama o mabuti, limiin ang kanyang mga sinasabi at kung may katuturan, pag-usapan natin at hindi ang kanyang pag-katao.

    • Ruben

      Siyempre ikokonsidera din natin ang pagkatao ng isang nagsasalita.  Tulad na lang ni GMA na alam natin na sinungaling…basta mo na lang ba paniniwalaan?

      • batangpaslit

        Yes, Ruben, there is no dichotomy between the messenger and the message. Kaya, as far as I am concerned, mas credible pa si Erap sa kanya whom Angara served as Executive Secretary. Erap do not “preach” about morality since he knew he is not credible to speak concerning the subject for his lifestyle is not worth emulating.
        Angara even betrayed Erap when he was the “Little President” of the latter.

    • batangpaslit

      Rolly, I am repeating myself here. The transmitter of values must first live out what he preachers.
      Both the message and the messenger must be credible.
      Otherwise, it is sheer hypocrisy.

  • John TWT

    Laging ipinagyayabang ng mga taga-UP na marami sa mga law grads nila e naging presidente ng bansa.
    Look at where we are now….Pwe!!!
    Siguro hindi tinuturo sa UP ang ethics at morality. Magaling sila sa batas…bobo sa moralidad!

    • batangpaslit

      John, you can say it again. Ang yayabang kasi nila. Scholar daw ng bayan pero sila din ang abusador. Walang utang na loob.

  • John TWT

    Not to mention ang history ng patayan ng mga frat diyan sa college of law…

    • batangpaslit

      i call your repartee a political “jujitso”

  • Drew

    I really admire the brilliance of Senator Angara. He definitely knows what he is talking about. He, along with Senator Enrile are truly the statesmen of the Senate, even in their old age, their minds are still as sharp as the younger leaders. 

    Its quite saddening to see many cyber-bullies in this thread, marami ang medyo feeling na alam lahat, but the truth is that they just take out their insecurities and frustrations in their lives and feel powerful and mighty when they make their know-it-all baseless opinions.

    Angara and Enrile have done many good things for the country, unlike these cyber-bullies who just like to vent out and complain, but actually do nothing.  

  • Jerry

    Conscience, Values and Wisdom. Not all but most lawyers in the Philippines have none of these values including Angara and the one being impeached. They been around for sometime but what have they done to protect the few good men. The rule of law in the Philippines is still a joke. It’s between the haves and the have nots. Pathethic, empty rhetoric. How’s the case between him and Palafox?

    • batangpaslit

      Jerry, I agree with you of what you said here—Angara’s empty rhetorics. I know Jun Palafox way back in the 80s. Jun had been consistent of what he believes in.

  • batangpaslit

    An observant high school kid knows that in order for him or her to excel, he or she has to specialize. I learned this way back in the 80s. We still need a generalist. The generalist have a bluesky view of things. His or her spectrum is wide. One could likewise specialize as a generalist.

    Mr Angara prides about the produce of U.P.? If the produce of U.P. are good as national leaders, i.e., Presidency, Senate, and Supreme Court—how come the Philippines is rotting to the core?

    I am not impressed of his person. If he wants to be an authority—a real authority on matters of national import—if he wants to be a transmitter of values, he must first live out what he preaches. Otherwise, he cancels out himself. His words and his deeds do not match.
    This is hpocrisy personified!

    • JennelAmargo

      correct! he (angara) speaks against himself…doble kara kasi!


    LEGAL ETHICS ang mga problema ng lawyers!

    • batangpaslit

      incisive point Kabayan. you may be petite in physical size, but your brain is big enough to discern what ails the legal practice, and a big courageous heart to speak up the truth.

  • Ruben

    Just to show you how smart and even crook the Angaras are, the young Angara is with the prosecution team while his father appears to be on the side of the Defense.  Figure out why they’re on opposite sides…

    • batangpaslit

      para kahit sinoman ang manalo, meron silang pipeline…tama ba Kabayan ang hinala ko?

  • batangpaslit


    Your Honor, as long as there is no issue of conflict of interest between my concurrence and your rendition of judgment, I can stand tall without shame or embarrassment that the words that comes out from my lips are words of heartfelt yearning to see the old homeland a better place to live in; not a paradise to be robbed.

  • John TWT

    To Drew

    Wow…”actually do nothing”? Most presumptuous…

    Angara and Enrile will not last in PHL politics if they went against the grain.

    They’ve been in it long enough to know that in order to survive in this jungle (and enjoy its enormous perks, like protection of one’s business interests), one needs to maintain and promote the status quo…which is of course, this sick and rotten system.

    Yeah, that’s how good they are.

    • goldilock

      Reason to vote new people in office with no link to existing politicians. Enrile retired already years ago. Vote for new names. Refused the same names in next elections.

  • joeldcndcn

    yeah. up law school produced the most notorious & Guinness Book of world record plunderer ferdinand marcos, he was a shame to the up college of law, tsk, tsk, tsk!

  • batangpaslit

    Alam mo, Jennel, when he became IBP President, I was very much impressed with him. I was even clamoring for him to run for President. Angara was a law classmate of my kin in U.P., who was appointed Judge at age 33. My cousin told me that he is not really that brilliant as a law student, but he is very diligent in his studies and knows how to network with anyone who could help him advance his ambition.
    I do not find it wrong to work out for his advancement. But what find it wrong now is his selfish ambition to the detriment of his constituency.
    I visited the town of Dingalan in Aurora Province. I saw the devastating effects of his illegal activities. I was innocent at the beginning about his illegal business, until I became curious and asked whose logs are strewn in the municipality that caused havoc. The people answered in chorus, Angara.
    No wonder, when he was the Executive Secretary of Erap, Angara betrayed his benefactor.
    HIndi ako nanghinayang na hindi naging Presidente ng Pilipinas si Angara.

  • Dodge2

    Wala bang graduate ng UP Law that will question in court the legality of the city government of Makati’s duplicating/usurping the job of the LTO to stop and fine diesel-fueled vehicles suspected of smoke belching???  Under the law, only the LTO’s authorized emission testing centers can conduct emission testing as a requirement to renew registration. ang isa pang kalokohan nila is that, they only stop privately-owned vehicles.  They dont stop the buses which are the clear and obvious smoke-belchers. This is discrimination.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos