Sereno seeks revamp of bar exams to ‘define kind of lawyer PH needs’ | Inquirer News

Sereno seeks revamp of bar exams to ‘define kind of lawyer PH needs’

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 08:33 AM October 12, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—As part of Philippine judicial reform, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has called for a revamp of the bar exams, challenging the legal academe to define the kind of lawyer the nation needs.

In a recent speech, Sereno said the Supreme Court had initiated a review of the qualifications for admission to the bar and of the subjects covered by the exam, the 2014 edition of which is on its second Sunday today at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.


Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno fields questions from journalists at a press briefing in Intramuros, Manila, in the wake of attacks on the Supreme Court from the House of Representatives and President Aquino. RAFFY LERMA

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. RAFFY LERMA/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The bar exam is the only professional licensure exam not administered by the Professional Regulation Commission.

“You are already seeing, and we have repeated, that we are already reviewing the qualifications for entry to the bar. We are looking at the categories or subjects that are covered by the bar examination,” Sereno said in a speech Wednesday in a seminar on civil law at the Court of Appeals.


Her audience included fellow and former magistrates, judges and law school officials, among others.

In her remarks, the chief magistrate urged law schools to take the lead in initiating a study on the ideal Filipino lawyer, saying the high court had no time to do so, given its workload.


Very focused review

“This is in keeping with my request to the Philippine Association of Law Schools that, first, the Supreme Court does not have the time to make the paper or the study that is necessary for us to define the kind of Filipino lawyer that must be produced by the legal profession, under the supervision of the Supreme Court,” she said.

“We need that kind of study so that we can have a very focused review of the bar examination and how we will require maintenance of membership in the bar, including the kind of legal aid service that will be required,” she said.

She said such a study should identify competencies and basic skills that the ideal Filipino lawyer should possess, considering the kind of legal problems Filipinos usually face, including the 10-million strong Filipino diaspora.


“I am basically saying that while leadership can be exercised by the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice, and it is happening, the push and the nagging of legal academe is happening. I have to see and I want to see changes really happening when it comes to legal reform,” Sereno said.

The bar exams, one of the toughest professional licensure examinations in the country, currently covers eight subjects spread across four weekends: political law and public international law; labor and social legislation; civil law; taxation; mercantile law; criminal law; remedial law, and legal and judicial ethics.

Last week, 350 bar candidates did not go on to take the test, as only 5,994 of the 6,344 applicants completed the first two sessions covering political and public international law, and labor and social legislation.

The passing rate in the bar exams has been traditionally low, with less than a third passing the annual test over the last decade and a half. Last year, the Supreme Court had to adjust the passing grade from 75 percent to 73 percent, to allow 22.18 percent of some 5,593 bar candidates to make the cut.

The bar exam revamp is part of Sereno’s reform program for the judiciary, which includes speeding up trials to unclog court dockets and giving those in underserved areas access to the justice system.



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TAGS: Bar Exams, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Philippine Association of Law Schools, Philippine Judicial Reform, Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Supreme Court
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