How to Become a Lawyer in the Philippines?

How to Become a Lawyer in the Philippines

On April 12, 2022, The Supreme Court of the Philippines released the results of the February 2022 Philippines Bar Exam where 11,402 took the exam. These bar exams culminate the hard work of future lawyers considering how many years to become a lawyer in the Philippines.

2022 Record-Breaking Philippine Bar Exam

This year’s Bar Exam was historically different because of the following reasons:

1. Number of Examinees

First, this Bar Exam featured the highest number of examinees in history, a record 11,402 examinees. The mean number of examinees hovers around 8,000.

2. Digitalized Bar Exam

Second, this is the first-ever digitalized Bar Exam. This meant that examinees did not have to worry about bad penmanship of fatigue from writing.

3. Exam Coverage

Third, the exam coverage is usually long enough to span four consecutive Sundays. This year’s examinations, it was shortened to two days, February 4 and February 6.

4. Passing Rate

Last, but not least, and perhaps the most impressive, 8,241 out of 11,402 passed the Bar exam, an impressive 72.28% passing rate, the highest in history. The results of Bar Exam passers included giving recognition to takers who exhibited an exemplary and excellent output with 761 obtaining a final score ranging from 85% to 90%, and 14 having a grade of over 90%.

Not only is the Philippine Bar Exam deemed a national event that gains high national television coverage, but a lot of people also look forward to it, both aspiring lawyers and ordinary people alike.

How to become a lawyer in the Philippines and How long does it take?

You might wonder how many years to become a lawyer? Well, it takes around four years of undergraduate studies and four years of studying in the law proper before one is eligible for the Bar Exam. Once you pass the bar, you can take your oath and begin practicing Philippine law.

If it takes eight years to become a lawyer at the very least, couple it with every single year being grueling and tiring because Law is a tough academic subject on its own. This begs the question: Why are people willing to go through this long and arduous process to become a lawyer? Primarily, aside from being a lucrative career choice, law aspirants have the natural inkling to serve their country.

If you are aiming to become the nation’s future leader and public servant, this article lists how to become a lawyer in the Philippines. Under the 1987 Constitution, the Philippine Supreme Court outlines the following qualifications for those aspiring to become members of the bar.

1. Bachelor’s Degree

The examinee must have completed a four-year undergraduate degree in either arts or sciences. Degrees like a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Legal Management are considered “pre-law” college courses.

Nevertheless, you should not be limited to these two as you can take any college course. Just be mindful that certain law schools have a requisite number of units per subject for you to be admitted to their law school. To illustrate, a certain law school may require 15 units of English, 6 units of science, and 6 units of math.

If your current undergraduate program inhibits you from achieving the desired number of required units, consider taking a minor that will let you take subjects from a different discipline. If not, some law schools may make you take a summer class in their law school to reach the desired number of units.

The Law university you apply to will require you to submit a transcript of school records and this is how they will determine your eligibility.

It helps to have a condominium near your university to reduce the time spent on travelling and use it to study instead.

2. Law School

The examinee must have finished his/her four-year law course at a college or university accredited by the Philippine Board of Legal Education.

In Law School, the curriculum must cover all the basic branches or fields of law such as Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Labor Law, Taxation Law, Commercial Law, Civil Law, Remedial Law and Legal Ethics). These can all potentially be tested in the Bar Exam.

Law School’s standard operating procedure of studying employs the Socratic Method where the law student studies on his/her own and must be ready when the professor prompts him/her.

Popular Law universities like San Beda College of Law and Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila Graduate School of Law have condominiums situated within the vicinity to make studying less of a hassle for you.

3. Law Internship

A Law Internship allows the future Bar Exam taker to apply his/her theoretical learnings into practice.

In this internship, the law students will interact with clients, watch court hearings, and even partake in those said hearings.

This is necessary for law students to get a feel of what life is as a lawyer and to answer potential questions that may come up in the Bar Exam.

4. The Bar Examination

As aforementioned, the new format for the Bar Exam is a two-day digital examination that is one day apart.

By testing examinees on the basic branches or fields of law, the test will include problem-solving questions, like being given a sample case and he/she must explain the laws violated, the defenses available, etc. Moreover, there will be conceptual questions like explaining concepts of law.

For the rubric and grading, the examinee must get a general average of 75% with no subject falling below 50%. The passing scores are subject to change.

The Bar Examination in the Philippine is one of the toughest examinations in the world. The end goal of how to become a lawyer in the Philippines rests on the result of this exam. You must be physically and mentally present to take this test properly.

5. Preliminary Requirements

Moving on from acquired requirements from studying law, Age and Citizenship are the preliminary requirements for aspiring Philippine lawyers.

For age, the examinee must be at least 21 years old at the time he/she is taking the test. He/she must show a birth certificate to prove that he/she is of the minimum age.

On the other hand, for citizenship, the examinee must be born to Filipino parents (both parents are Filipino citizens), a naturalized Filipino, or a dual citizen. To state the obvious, the aspiring Filipino lawyer must be a Filipino.

6. Skills and Attitudes

A potential lawyer must have excellent communication skills. He/she must be able to construct clear, coherent, and concise messages either through verbal or oral communication.

Another skill a lawyer must have is the ability to read quickly. Especially in law school, law students spend their time reading notes, cases, articles, and the like. Considering the sheer volume of required readings, it would be best to finish them as fast as possible.

On the other hand, for attitudes, one must develop an effective study habit. An ineffective study habit is spending the whole day reading cases and articles. On the flip side, a good habit is displaying the time management to study, rest, and have some fun. Dedicating one’s day to studying is boring, tiring, and frustrating.

7. Good Moral Character

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a lawyer is his/her character. The first thing that comes to mind when speaking about a lawyer is his/her academic achievements or skills. However, being the leaders of the Philippines, it is imperative to have morally sound public servants helping the country and its people.

A lawyer of good moral character must not be convicted of a crime, and they must not violate the Lawyers’ Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Canons of Judicial Ethics.

In a country in need of competent and compassionate leaders, may this inform you on how to become a lawyer in the Philippines and inspire you to become the country’s next public servant.

Written by Cholo Hermoso