Uploaded by Raiza Balindong

To become a Lawyer

Romulo V. Borja
Associate Justice (Ret)
Court of Appeals
The process of becoming a lawyer is a long and winding road. Perhaps
the better analogy would be to call it a roller-coaster ride because, indeed,
the process involves wild emotional swings.
That process is laid down by the Supreme Court. Specifically, Sections
1 to 16 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court (on Attorneys and Admission to Bar)
provide the process in some detail. The student may want to consult Rule
138 (this is included in your Basic Legal Ethics course, a first-year, secondsemester subject).
The following is an outline of that Rule.
The Rule begins with a requirement of a Pre-Law degree. Since you are
now enrolled in Xavier Ateneo College of Law, I presume you have
complied with this requirement. The other requirements may not seem
important to you now but a lot of candidates have suffered 11 th hour
anxieties over lack of documentation pursuant to these requirements. So let’s
go over all of them.
The requirements for becoming a lawyer are:
Citizenship, residence, age, moral qualifications
Educational qualifications
Passing the bar examinations
Taking the Lawyer’s Oath before the Supreme Court itself.
5. Signing the Roll of Attorney’s and Receiving from the clerk of court
of the Supreme Court the certificate of the license to practice law.
• Citizen of the Philippines – If you don’t have a copy of your birth certificate,
you.ve got a problem. You may have been allowed upon a promise to secure
the original or duly authenticated copy of the certificate. If this is so, don’t
procrastinate on this matter. Last minute problems have bedeviled many bar
• Resident of the Philippines
• 21 years of age
• Good moral character – Usually, it is sufficient for any of your law
professors to execute an affidavit of good moral character upon your
graduation. But keep in mind that the maintenance or attribute of a good
moral character is required throughout your residency in law school precisely
because of this ethical requirement by the Supreme Court. The law school can
actually deny such certification if the student had not exhibited such a
character during his stay in law school even if he/she had passed the academic
• No charges involving moral turpitude filed or pending before any
Anyone seeking admission to the College of Law must have the
following qualifications:
 A graduate of Bachelor’s Degree in Arts or Science, or a higher
academic degree, from an authorized and recognized university or
college. The applicant must have earned at least –
three (3) units of Rizal course,
eighteen (18) units of Social Sciences subjects,
six (6) units in Mathematics, and
eighteen (18) units in English.
 Passed the Philippine Law School Admission Test (PhiLSat) or
possess a Certificate of Exemption.
 Admission test of the individual law school
General knowledge
Logical analysis
Reading comprehension
Ability to express one’s self
Suffice it to say that at this point it is safe to assume that you have
satisfied this requirement. But I hasten to add that if, for example, you
lack the 18-unit English course requirement and you were allowed
enrollment on a promise to take a remedial course, do not dilly-dally.
The other educational qualification is that you must have passed
the law course.
An outline of the courses in law school follows:
The “bar subjects”, so called because they are the subjects that
are included in the bar exams are: civil law, commercial law, remedial
law, criminal law, public and private international law, political law,
labor and social legislation, medical, taxation and legal ethics.
The non-bar subjects include: statutory construction, legal
research, practice court, legal counseling, etc.
There are a few electives such as environmental law.
The curriculum of Xavier Ateneo Las School follows closely the
“model curriculum” laid down by the Legal Education Board or LEB.
Undoubtedly, the curriculum is designed is designed to support
the student’s goal of becoming a lawyer the main hurdle to which is
the bar exams. Law schools in the country have been criticized for
being to “bar-exam oriented”. There is some merit to this. But,
nonetheless, no one can be a lawyer without passing the bar and,
inevitably, emphasis on passing the bar exams is unavoidable. You can
see this in the way the law school curriculum matches the subjects in
the bar exams.
The Philippine bar exams are probably unique in the world. No other
country features such a festive atmosphere at its licensure exams for lawyers.
The mood is tense, somber and serious for the bar candidates inside the
testing center but outside the fraternities and sororities, the bar operations
people, the law schools themselves engage in carnival-like behavior.
The reader should watch the slide presentation ”Nothing Like It in the
World” to get an idea of this.
The subjects in the bar exams are as follows:
• 1st Sunday –
• Political law (Constitutional law, Law on Public
Corporations, Law on Public Officers, Election Law,
Public and Private International Law)
• Labor and Social Legislation
• 2nd Sunday –
• Civil Law ( Persons, Property, Obligations and Contracts,
Torts and Damages, etc.)
• Taxation (National, Local Taxation, Real Property)
3rd Sunday –
• Mercantile Law (Corporate, Insurance, Transportation,
Banking, Business)
• Criminal Law (Revised Penal Code and special penal
• 4th Sunday –
• Remedial Law (Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure,
• Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises.
What grade do you need to obtain to pass the bar exams?
You need to obtain Weighted General Average of 75% for all the
bar subjects. The weights of he subjects are:
Political Law – 15%
Labor and Social Legislation – 10%
Civil Law – 15%
Taxation – 10%
Mercantile Law – 15%
Criminal Law – 10%
Remedial Law – 20%
Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises – 5%
Traditionally, this weighted average must be obtained without failing
below 50% in any one subject. Right now this condition has been suspended.
So the achievement of a 75% weighted average is sufficient.
What type of questions are asked in the bar exams?
They fall into four general types:
Essay type
• Hypothetical problems
• Direct essay type
Multiple choice questions (MCQs)
Practical Exercises
• Prepare contracts, pleadings, memoranda, briefs.
Objective type – Definitions, distinctions, enumerations.
See the video file under the Topic “Admission to Law Practice”