December 8, 2022

There is always a first time for anything. First love, first kiss, first job, first day in school, so forth and so on. The good thing about the first time is that it is often the most memorable and the one that leaves the most lasting impression. As the songs go, “First love never dies” and “First cut is the deepest.”
For the more than 11,000 Law graduates that took the Bar examination last Feb. 4 and 6, there were many firsts. Indeed, this Bar examination is historic in a way that it did not conform to the traditional manner by which the Bar examination is conducted.
Consider the following: It was the first time that questions were asked and the corresponding answers were presented digitally. The examinees had to type their respective answers in their computers, whereas before, answers were handwritten on notebooks. The penmanship of each candidate therefore played a vital role in their passing or not. This year, the factor of penmanship was eliminated;
The examination was squeezed to two days with only a day in between. In the past, the Bar lasts for one month with two subjects for each Sunday. The waiting time between one examination and the other is for a week. That means pressure;
The subjects were merged with each other. Previous Bar examinations were compartmentalized that each subject had its own topic. No two subjects encroached on each other because the syllabus was defined per subject. Hence, past Bar examinations were lengthier;
The venue of the exams was decentralized. There were several stations where the examinees were assigned. They did not have to flock to Manila to merge with their fellow students in one venue to take their chances; and
The noisy crowd that rendered aid and inspiration via the so-called “Bar operations” is conspicuously absent. It is this crowd that adds to the excitement and glamour of the Bar.
In view of the radical changes, many hard-line lawyers are questioning the propriety of this year’s Bar examination. They say that two days of exam where subjects are merged into a single topic are not enough to gauge the competence of the prospective lawyers. That the computer system is way out of line since lawyers are expected to write their answers. And, the regionalization will not give the required toughness to mold the examinees into becoming full-fledged litigators. Therefore, they conclude, this batch will be known as half-baked lawyers who became such due to the leniency of the Supreme Court.
Not necessarily. In fact, those who will pass this year’s Bar examination can be categorized as the most competent and toughest lawyers our country will produce. Imagine the trauma they had to go through just to take the Bar.
For one, the examination was postponed for over two years because of the pandemic. Just for keeps, their waiting time is even longer than the one-week interval of past Bar examinations. That their examination is computerized is but a logical consequence of the changing times and the development of technology. Much like everything else, the legal profession needs to evolve to cope with the progress of society.
Anent the recognition, this is a welcome development. It is a lot cheaper and more convenient to most examinees and their parents. It removes the home town advantage of those from Manila.
Remember, the Bar examination is not only a qualifying examination. It is also an avenue where universities compete for bragging rights. Besides, if other professional boards have decentralized their qualifying examinations, why not the Bar?
Hence, instead of criticizing the manner by which this year’s Bar examination was administered, the legal profession ought to be awed and inspired by what transpired.
This year’s Bar examination is monumental. It has so many firsts and that alone is something to marvel and appreciate. It was consummated without any hitch and despite the most trying of all times is a success. It is an unparalleled achievement for the SC. The chair, the examiners, the proctors, and all who played a vital role deserve our congratulations.
In sum, all lawyers must recognize it was truly the best Bar examination because it numbered among its examinees the bravest and the toughest students who ambitioned to become lawyers.
Just by taking this year’s Bar examination is already a feat in itself.