Protecting the Integrity of Legal Education

Manila Bulletin, December 13, 2003 | Go to article overview

Protecting the Integrity of Legal Education


Byline: Consuelo Ynares-Santiago

Keynote address delivered by Justice CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO on the occasion of the 14th National Law Students Conference at Bayview Hotel, Roxas Boulevard, Manila, on December 5, 2003.)

MR. Roland Carub, National Chairman, Jomar Mallonga, NCR Chairman, Armel Cipriano, National Vice Chairman, Louie Rodriguez, Secretary General officers, members of the Association of Law Students of the Philippines.

I am inspired to be with this gathering of student leaders from 60 law schools, and heartened that the avowed purpose of the conference is to cultivate a spirit of cordiality and camaraderie among its members and to contribute in the improvement of legal education in the Philippines by providing a venue for academic cooperation and coordination.

This spirit of cordiality and camaraderie follows the tradition that we lawyers are companeros and companeras. Lawyers may have or represent opposing views and interests on legal issues, but can and should be civil and cordial if they can not be warm to each other.

The problem of improving legal education and protecting its integrity is not new. It was already talked about even as long ago when we were still students. We are also aware that other countries, the developed ones included, continue to struggle with this problem.

A little bit of history: While law is not the oldest profession, it is very likely the oldest regulated profession. In ancient Greece, advocates and pleaders were permitted to appear for others in the courts. Roman advocates were given formal standing to aid litigants in court trials. The advocate was understood to be first and foremost a friend of the litigant, pledged to give priority to the interest of his client before serving his own.

Here, advocacy was first instituted in the 1600s by Spain applying the Laws of the Indies and later by special laws and decrees. When the Americans came, military orders or statutes of Anglo-Saxon origins regulated law practice. Today, law practice is regulated by the Rules of Court and the issuances governing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The Supreme Court has the power to:

(5) promulgate rules concerning xxx pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, x x x.

The requirements for admission to the Philippine bar have also changed.

In 1911, the educational requirement was only a highschool diploma and a 3-year law course. Later, two years of college was required.

Up to the 1980s the 4-year law course (LLB) was made up of 122 units which emphasize the bar subjects listed in Sec. 9, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, including non-bar subjects like: legal history, legal bibliography, statutory construction, jurisprudence, trial techniques, thesis and legal research, legal medicine, and practice court.

In 1989, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports introduced a revised model law curriculum for the 4-year Bachelor of Law degree which took effect in 1990 offering more subjects to include legal profession, legal counseling, legal research and legal writing.

A number of legislative measures were also enacted which significantly defined contemporary legal education.

R.A. No. 3870 created the U.P. Law Center in 1964 which provided for a venue for continuing legal education programs and legal research and publications.

In 1993, R.A. No. 7662 created the Board of Legal Education composed of the chairman, who is a former justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals, and a representative each from the IBP, Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS), Philippine Association of Law Professors (PALP), one from the ranks of active law practitioners, and from the law students sector. This Board declared that it is the States policy to uplift the standards of legal education in order to prepare law students for advocacy, counseling, problem-solving, and decision-making; to infuse in them the ethics of the legal profession; to impress on them the importance, nobility and dignity of the legal profession as an equal and indispensable partner of the Bench in the administration of justice, and to develop social competence. …

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