‘Attorney’ is no VIP pass, SC associate justice tells new lawyers | Inquirer News
Reminder from SC justice

‘Attorney’ is no VIP pass, SC associate justice tells new lawyers

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:54 AM January 03, 2024

‘Attorney’ is no VIP pass, new lawyers told

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando (Photo from the Supreme Court website)

MANILA, Philippines — Having an “Attorney” before your name (or maybe on your bumper sticker) does not place you above any Juan or Juana dela Cruz, who must observe traffic rules, wait patiently in line, and follow other regulations.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando gave this reminder to lawyers, particularly the recent passers of the 2023 bar examinations.


“The law should never be the one to adjust to you,” said Hernando, who chaired last year’s bar exams in a speech during the recent oathtaking and roll-signing of the new lawyers. “The relaxation of rules is always just an exception and not the general rule.”


“Be a visible example of a follower of the law. Do not skip lines. Do not run that red light. Be not apathetic. Look up from your phones and see the prevailing realities around you,” he said. “(Do not) rely on an authority’s leniency to escape compliance.”

The professional title “Attorney,” he stressed, is “not a social rank” that makes one more important than nonlawyers.

The legal profession is considered one of the most exalted and desired careers for Filipinos, with bar exam results given high-drama publicity and the topnotchers lavished with cash and other rewards by their schools.

But Hernando reminded the 2023 passers that “what will truly validate you is how you will hold yourself out as a lawyer from the moment you sign the Roll of Attorneys, your demeanor before the courts and the public, the propriety of your actions, the stability of your private lives, and the fortitude of your convictions.”

There will be moments ahead, he said, where the practice will demand much of their time and energy and also test “even the strength of your own principles.”

Reread, proofread

Take the time to make informed and rational choices “so as not to compromise or overlook the most fleeting opportunities,” he added, giving on-the-job advice.


“Reread your drafts. Revisit your law, and please, do proofread your citations.

Ask a mentor’s opinion. Seek a second opinion or a third one when you can. A rash, inefficient decision is a child of impatience,” he said.

“Never stop learning. The law is ever-evolving, and we must do our best not to get left behind,” he added.

Lawyers, beyond the craft, are expected to be first and foremost advocates of peace and promoters of equity, he said.

Being “influencers” in their own right, lawyers should be mindful of their statements since they can sway public opinion, he said. “At the very least, may your words and actions as lawyers be guided by the rules of basic decency, professional integrity, and universal inclusivity.”

‘Help declog dockets’

At a time when the Supreme Court is pursuing efforts to speed up judicial processes, Hernando also urged the lawyers to “discourage the judicial settlement of minor scuffles the best you can (and) help declog the dockets.”

“Love the legal profession. It is yours to keep under certain conditions… Consider your title as a continuing challenge for you to be a champion of social justice, unshackled truth, altruistic freedoms, unthreatened peace, equality to all, and inequity to none. Use it to advance the rightful plight of others, always and everywhere,” said Hernando.

And for those contemplating practice overseas, “If ever you would need to leave the Philippines, come back. Your country needs you now more than ever,” he added.

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A total of 3,812 — or 36.77 percent — of the 10,387 takers passed last year’s bar exams. Their oath-taking and roll-signing ceremony was held on Dec. 22 at SMX Convention Center.

TAGS: Bar Exams, lawyers’ code of ethics

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