Thursday, August 6, 2009

Speech, Undelivered

Last Wednesday night was the testimonial dinner for those who passed the bar in my law school. Sadly, wasn’t able to make it because I have a hearing on that same day in the morning. My client on that day was a Chinese lady in her late forties asking for an accounting of her loan with a big bank which already foreclosed her mortgaged property and had it sold to a SPAV.

I thought I am going to be very late on that hearing because I was not able to wake up early but fortunately with the help of traffic-less trains, except for the inconvenience of being neck to neck with people packed inside the coaches, I was only 10 minutes late and to top it all when I arrived together with my client the case being tried before us is not yet finished with the skinhead lawyers still arguing with each other about the case being archived as a result of an agreed settlement before the mediation center.

I can’t disclose more facts but the thing is what excites me in this case is that it has an element of novelty in many ways. I told my client after we had lunch in a Japanese restaurant that the law is on her side in this particular instance notwithstanding her good faith and correct reasoning that it is unjustified for the bank to still demand from her 80 percent of the principal sum despite of having paid more than 90 percent of it. As she correctly pointed out in her testimony, what the bank wants to tell her now is that she has paid less than 10 percent of the principal sum which is really really outrageous.

She has told me a lot of stories about her business and her previous legal concerns while dining but the only thing that stuck in my mind is her B.P. 22 case three years ago as I am very much focused on filling in my hungry stomach which hasn’t tasted breakfast for about three consecutive days already and this is quite bad for my health. So as for me not to appear to have lost my sense of etiquette when dealing with elite people like her, I nod my head every now and then to show my agreement to what she says although I don’t understand them. By the way, Mrs. China is very religious that every time she sends an SMS to me she does not forget to tell me God Bless and God have mercy.

We parted around past 12 noon which happened to have ruined my plans of travelling to Baguio and making it to the testimonial dinner. I remember sending an SMS to one of the organizers of the testimonial describing my current work after having passed the bar while I am in a bus on my way back to the office that was about 4:30 pm. The sky is beaming red while a thunderhead could be seen from afar. I imagine myself standing at the podium looking at people sitting among round tables in a banquet hall.

“Please lend me your ears for only a few minutes. I have some important things to tell. To those who will be taking the bar next year, I just want to tell you that the bar isn’t the bar you are thinking right now. I must tell you that you won’t be able to define what the bar is until you yourself have already experienced it. The bar is more than a journey, a right of passage that will test not only your knowledge about the law but also your emotional strength the latter being the true determinant if you will make it or not. The six-month review starting April is a hellish ride, to put it bluntly. There will be many times that you will ask yourself if you still have the might to continue the battle. In those moments when I begin to ask and question my own capabilities, I felt I was in a vacuum. I was experiencing an existential void. I have mustered law school while working full time in a job which also required a lot of effort from me letting me think and think more trying to rob a lot of precious time which I should have devoted to reading books and understanding the law. I graduated while doing a high-wire act. It’s a feat that should have tide me over in those six torturing months but, alas, it was not strong enough to shield me over a tempest that is the bar. Law school sucked but the bar sucked even more.

The bar exam is really uncalled for. I have seen many fought so hard just to be refused admission to the bar. I once told myself why can’t we just all pass for the hard work. But it is the reality you must face when it’s your turn to take the exam. A reality that should sink in deeply in your thoughts in order to awaken you from complacency I am sure most of you have now. You must prepare yourself for the battle even this early. The most basic question that you should ask yourself now is whether you’re emotionally ready. The bar is an emotionally charged experience even for the impassive.
I must say this to you: You will pass the bar if you think and believe so! You have studied for four years in law school just to be denied admission because of human frailty; of not being a walking library. Not even the examiners nor the Supreme Court Justices could say that they know and understand all the laws. What the bar exam wants to gauge from you is “entry level knowledge”. We have good foundation in the fundamental laws through our good professors and if that’s what the bar wants from us then definitely we must all pass but practically the exam is completely different from what it is supposed to test.

The bar is like a quiz show. They could pick a question hiding somewhere from those voluminous laws. Your armour for the bar really are the remnants of all what you’ve read, studied, and understood in all those four years and definitely not in the review. What the review must do for you is to reinforce what you have studied in law school. It should not be a venue for new information for if it is you are doomed to fail lest you will really do extraordinary ways in reviewing beyond a human brain’s capacity.

Let me be the harbinger of doom and failure if need be. Let me ruin your evening if that’s how I’ll make you realize the need for you to prepare yourself this early. All of my friends sitting in front of you have also been there, they could attest to the truth behind the bar.

If in the middle of the review, prostrate you will feel, remember the promise of joining the law profession and being a disciple of justice, the most valuable laurel you will earn beyond anything material and tangible. The trust and respect of people, things you will never earn instantly in any other way than passing the bar. Remember your motivations and inspirations. Remember the people who love and care for you. Remember the Lord who will never leave you in distress if your intentions are true.

I stand here this evening to tell you the extent of happiness I feel now, the sense of fulfillment, that even with overwhelming responsibilities I carry with me now, I stand proud and brave because I know I am no longer the student helpless to change things for the better. I stand proud and brave because with a little effort I can now make a big difference in the lives of others.

Thank you and good night!”


  1. I LOVED your speech, and am so sorry that you weren't able to attend the dinner.

  2. inspired and was inspired more. goodluck.

  3. that sucks! not making it to your testimonial dinner. i attended mine and i loved the 5-minute-fame with my speech! all eyes, all ears when in all those fucking four law school years i've ogled and listened to my professors! sweet isn't it?

  4. it didn't because I am sure one testimony is enough for my school. I for one have gone through those testimonials in my four years in law school and there's nothing new in what I will tell. So you basked in burning glory. Good for you. Hoped someone "really" listened to you :)