ANOTHER TAKE ON THE BAR EXAMS
I am in a quandary whether to believe in the Bar Exams or not. I have been in the prison service longer than any career personnel in government that I intend to retire anytime now. As a prison officer, I have had a number of occasions to meet lawyers of various stripes—those in private firms, those in government service, those in uniformed institutions, those in the academe, so on and so forth. I have had several instances when I would tangle with them point by point. At the end of every session with this chosen specie, I would have my notes ready for my impressions.
Sadly, I could only scribble unfortunate expression of sadness on their intellectual state. I have as yet to talk to a lawyer discussing a case with meritorious competence in the field of law. I have as yet to meet a lawyer with the caliber of a Salonga, or a Diokno, or a Santiago. They are seasoned lawyers and Bar topnotchers to say the least. But Bar passers nonetheless. A barrister may have been the same in terms of their outlook and bearing assuming that Bar Exams is an indication for qualification and competence.
For the last few years, there were a number of lawyers who qualified by virtue of their passing rates. The Bar Exam surely separates the grain from the chaff. But is it really? I have been privileged to have as close friends lawyers who landed near the top. But their works are not that impressive if landing near the top would be a gauge at all. On the contrary, I would also be recipient of works by non lawyers, those who never made it in the Bar, but whose intelligence are comparatively higher and whose writing skill more superior. I would even dare say that given the same debating field, the non lawyers may even exhibit an edge.
That would bring the whole argument to a standstill if passing the Bar is a requisite for competence in the practice of law. Not that it should be stricken out. Not that the Bar has no merit at all. It is a parameter, an indicator of preparedness actually. What I would banner is the way the test papers should be treated.
For a time, there is a few percentage of passing. Is it because the takers are not at all prepared? Or, their papers not seriously appreciated. Let us remember that those who are correcting the papers are in their twilight years already and therefore can easily tire, given the timeline on which to immediately come up with their response. A mathematical exercise may prove revealing. Assuming there are 5,000 test papers to correct. If the correctors are given three months (90 days) within which to complete and send their corrected test papers back with grades that means a daily grind of 55 test papers. That means 7 test papers an hour or 55 test papers for a stretch of 8 hours. Further on, that implies that for every test paper, the corrector is given 8 minutes within which to read and appreciate the answers given by the examinee. I just wished that my computation is faulty.
My point is this. If our examiners/ correctors are that enthusiastic in appreciating the answers of examinees, my firm belief is that there will be more passers or the percentage may spike to a height which our countrymen would welcome. We need a lot of lawyers and most of those who are taking the Bar are schooled properly and competent enough to serve the social needs of our countrymen.