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Philippines Universities & Colleges Guide

Law studies in the Philippines

Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) is a four year graduate program designed to help students become lawyers.

There are eight major subjects included in the LL.B. curriculum: Civil, Political, Labor, Criminal, Commercial, International, Tax and Remedial laws. All these subjects are required by the Supreme Court of the Philippines for the completion of the Law program, plus a number of other subjects (Legal Research, Legal Ethics and Labor Standards). In addition, students are required to choose one elective subject out of the following subjects: Admiralty, Advanced Taxation, Agrarian Law and Social Legislation, Appellate Practice and Brief Making. These subjects are usually offered in the fourth year of law school.

The first two years of the Bachelor of Laws program are spent in rigorous classroom discussions, oral recitations, case study analysis and debates. During junior and senior years law students will undergo an extensive apprenticeship in a duly recognized law firm, a research court apprenticeship and an on the job training in a government agency or a public legal assistance agency (Public Attorneys Office).

A final requirement during the fourth year of law school and one of the highlights in the Law program is the thesis making. The topic may come from any subject of law or issues concerning legal matters. The thesis is done under the supervision of a faculty and culminates when the student faces a committee to defend his/her work.

Is Law a profession?


Law is a profession. A graduate of Bachelor of Laws who passes the Philippine Bar Examination is called an Attorney or a Lawyer. Depending on which field of specialization a Lawyer chooses, roles and responsibilities will significantly vary. Compared to other professions, Lawyers have a wide array of jobs. This includes explaining the law and giving general legal advice, representing a client and advising them on their legal situation, settling disputes and supervising any agreements, drafting contracts and other legal documents, analyzing legal documents, researching and gathering evidence, creating oral argument in the courts, attending court hearings to defend clients, conveyancing (making documents necessary for the transfer of properties such as deeds and mortgages) and prosecuting criminal suspects.

What are the admission requirements for Bachelor of Laws?


Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
(See source 1 and source 2)
  • Pre-Law bachelors degree:
    To be admitted to the Law program, a student must have completed a bachelors degree in arts or science in an authorized university or college, with any of the following subjects as major or field of concentration:
    – Political Science
    – Philosophy
    – English
    – Economics
    – History
  • Other degrees - required subjects:
    In the event that an applicant is a bachelors degree holder in a field other than those mentioned above, he/she may still be admitted as long as he/she has earned the following minimum number of units in certain subject areas:
    – English: 12 units
    – History and/or Economics: 9 units
    – Social Sciences (Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Literature) : 21 units
    – Math : 6 units
    – Rizal: 3 units
  • Recommendation letter: must submit a recommendation letter from reputable source and from previous college dean or any faculty of member of his/her previous school.
  • Police clearance: must submit a copy of Police or NBI clearance showing no involvement in cases of moral turpitude (rape, robbery, forgery).
  • Admission Test: an applicant shall be required to take the Law Aptitude Examination (LAE) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) before being accepted. He/she will then be evaluated according to the score that he/she obtains. There are schools that require an above average rating or depending on the specified rating set by the school.
  • English Proficiency Examination: must pass an English Proficiency Examination with a rating not less than 80%.
  • Interview: must undergo a separate interview with the College Admissions Officer as well as the College Dean.
  • Employment status: there are schools that do not accept applicants who are currently employed. They only admit those who can be full time students.


What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?


The following characteristics will help you survive Law school:
  • Analytical and Logical reasoning – the ability to review complex written documents, draw inferences and create connections among legal evidences
  • Critical thinking – the ability to discern concepts, comprehend evidences and integrate them with certain legal theories
  • Reasoning skill – the ability to discover underlying principles between two or more subjects and use it to solve a case.
  • Organization – ability to sort, order and manage large volumes of exhibits, documents, files, evidence, data and other information.
  • Sound Judgment – the ability to consistently think clearly, carefully, and independently.
  • Attention to detail – the ability to eye pertinent data and evidences that can be used for a case
  • Stellar communication skills – the ability to proficiently speak and write English and convey information in a clear, concise, and logical manner.
  • Memorization skills – the ability to recall concepts that have been previously studied and apply it to new cases.
  • Diligence and commitment


How difficult is Bachelor of Laws?


Bachelor of Laws is a difficult course. It requires a great amount of time and effort. You must have the passion to study law in order to graduate from the program. Consistency and diligence is very important. Expect that when you take up law you have to consistently study every night for the next four years. The most common mistake among many applicants is the thought that because they are able to articulate and read English proficiently, they are a good fit to take up Law. However, Law goes beyond pronouncing words well, it requires reading comprehension. It is a complicated subject with lots of differing rulings on various aspects of the law. Studying law also involves lots of writing on complex subjects.

Getting a law degree is nothing like getting a bachelors degree. Many law classrooms are run more like courts than like classrooms. Professors in law school are not your average professors. These professors do not at all behave like teachers in a classroom; they behave like lawyers in a court, trying to prove that each and every one of the students in the room did not do the required reading thoroughly enough.

In addition, the Philippine Bar Examination is one of the hardest board exams; only a small percentage of examinees are able to pass.

How long does it take to complete the L.L.B program in the Philippines?


Generally, the L.L.B. program takes four years to complete. However, there are certain schools that follow a five year curriculum. In schools that follow a trimestral curriculum, the program may be completed in less than four years.

After graduation, a six–month comprehensive review program prepares law students for the Philippine Bar Examination. The program features classes and lectures from members of the Law School's faculty as well as other legal scholars and practitioners.

Apprenticeship


Law schools who accept employed students do not require apprenticeships and on the job trainings. Instead, to supplement for the lack of hands on experience, they are required to attend seminars and selected court hearings. Most of these activities are scheduled on weekends or selected days of the week.

The apprenticeship program requires qualified attorneys who will assist the students in the actual practice of law. The supervising attorney evaluates the performance of the students and recommends to the Dean whether academic credits can be granted on the basis of such evaluation. Students must earn a total of four (4) academic credits from apprenticeship work to be eligible for graduation.

Specializations


The most common fields of specializations in Law are as follows:
  • Constitutional Law – the body of law that regulates the federal, state, and local governments; most often associated with fundamental rights like equal protection, the right to bear arms, freedom of religion, and the right to free speech.
  • Criminal Law – body of rules that defines conduct prohibited by the government because it threatens and harms public safety and welfare; examples are kidnapping, rape, robbery, murder, rebellion.
  • Business Law – governs transactions between business entities, contracts, sales, business organizations, property, and bailments.
  • Labor Law – an area of the law that deals with the rights of employers, employees, and labor organizations.
  • Civil Law – covers disputes between individuals, companies and sometimes local or central government.
  • Tax Law – covers the rules, policies and laws that oversee the tax process, which involves charges on estates, transactions, property, income, licenses and more by the government.
  • Family Law – an area of the law that deals with family–related matters and domestic relations; examples include annulment, adoption, child custody.


Philippine Bar Examination


To be a full–fledged lawyer in the Philippines and be eligible to use the title Attorney, a graduate of Bachelor of Laws needs to pass the Philippine Bar Examination. The examination is conducted by the Supreme Court of the Philippines under the Supreme Court Bar Examination Committee. It is scheduled once a year in the four Sundays of October.

There are eight sets of subjects included in the exam and each subject has its corresponding weight. Civil Law (15%), Labor Law and Social Legislation (10%), Mercantile Law (15%), Criminal Law (10%), Political and International Law (15%), Taxation (10%), Remedial Law (20%) and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (5%) are the eight main subjects included in the exam.

To pass the examination you should obtain a passing average of 75%, with no grade falling below 50% in any bar subject. Compared to other eligibility examinations, the Bar Exam can only be taken six times. Failure to pass in the first three examinations means disqualification of a candidate. However, he/she may take a fourth and fifth examination provided that he successfully completes a one (1) year refresher course for each examination. Once a candidate fails in his/her fourth and fifth attempt, he/she will be required to take another one year refresher course, after which, the candidate may again take the sixth and final bar examination.

The result of the board examination is usually released during March, 5 months after the exam.

Is the LL.B. degree different from the Juris Doctor degree?


  • Can you become a lawyer by taking the Juris Doctor program:
    Both the Bachelor of Laws program and the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program are professional law degrees that entitle a graduate to practice law in the Philippines, given that they pass the Bar Examination.
  • Admission requirements:
    Generally speaking, admission requirements for both programs are similar.
  • Duration:
    Both programs take 4 years to complete.
  • Curriculum:
    The J.D. program requires students to finish the core bar subjects in 2.5 years, and take elective subjects.
  • Thesis:
    The J.D. program requires you to prepare and defend a thesis. In the L.L.B. program, a thesis is not always required (its up to the school).
  • Apprenticeship:
    The J.D. program always requires an apprenticeship, while the L.L.B. doesnt always require one (its up to the school).
(see sources 1, 2 and 3)

Career opportunities for Bachelor of Laws graduates


  • Jobs for Certified Lawyers (bar exam passers)

    The number of lawyers in the Philippines is very low in international comparison. According to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the official organization of Filipino lawyers, there are approximately 50,000 attorneys at present. Majority of lawyers are hired by government agencies, law firms and non-government organizations, while others turn to private practice after passing the bar examination.

    • Entry Level jobs


      Jobs requiring no prior to minimal level of experience:
      • Junior Associate Attorney – lawyers who recently passed the bar exam and work as assistants to senior lawyers in firms
      • Staff Attorney – performs a specialized function such as rule review or the preparation of annotations for publication
      • Assistant Corporation Counsel – lawyers who work directly for a business or company; assist in any matter requiring legal knowledge or advice.
      • Attorney Recruitment Coordinator – oversee the process of hiring and recruiting qualified attorneys at major law firms.
    • Mid–Level Positions


      Require trainings and prior job experience of a few years:
      • Private Practice Lawyer – work alone in a small office or alongside many lawyers at a large law firm
      • Senior Corporate Counsel – employed in the legal department of a medium to large company, and responsible for drafting documents and contracts, representing the company in legal agreements, and responsible for any matter requiring legal advice.
      • Junior Partner in a Law Firm – assists the senior partner in preparing important legal cases and is usually the second counsel during trials.
      • Corporate Lawyer – ensure the legality of commercial transactions, advising corporations on their legal rights and duties
      • Tax Lawyer – possess strong knowledge of tax laws and issues including income, property, gift and federal tax.
      • Senior Legal Counsel – responsible for providing quality and timely legal support and advice: the primary lawyer in major cases
      • Criminal Defense Attorney – also known as criminal defense lawyers and public defenders, defend individuals, organizations and entities that have been charged with a crime.
      • Notary public – a public officer appointed by a state government; helps prevent fraud by witnessing the signing of documents and verifying their authenticity.
      • Law Professor – conduct the law classes according to the college academic standards and rules.
      • Civil Rights Attorney – an attorney that concentrates on special interest groups or a specific civil rights issue
      • Mediator – facilitate negotiation and settlement between disputing parties by providing direction and encouragement, working collaboratively with the parties and finding creative ways to reach a mutual solution.
    • Advanced Positions


      Require years of extensive experience and practice:
      • Senior Partner in a Law Firm – the primary responsibility for managing the business of the Firm, with particular emphasis on the provision of legal services, the performance of all partners and other time keepers and financial performance, client relationships and satisfaction.
      • Law firm owner – a highly tenured lawyer who owns a legal clinic
      • Law College Dean – head of a schools law department
      • Court Judge – preside over cases brought before the court and review legal briefs, arguments and evidence presented by the defense and the prosecution
      • Associate Justice – second to the highest position in the Supreme Court; votes on cases, drafts opinions
      • Attorney General – the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement, public prosecutions or even ministerial responsibility for legal affairs
      • Government Agency head – (Supreme Court of the Philippines, Ombudsman, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Justice and Court of Appeals)
  • Jobs for Non Bar Passers:

    • Paralegal – assists lawyers in preparing for trials, hearings and closings
    • Law Clerk – receives and files documents and vital records; maintains all files as keeper of files and records
    • Court Reporter – provides the verbatim official record of all court testimony and activity and, when necessary, grand jury proceedings; prepares transcripts of court proceedings as directed.
    • Law Librarians – analyze legal sources for accuracy and quality; they are responsible for selecting new books and information resources for the library
    • Private Investigator – find facts and analyze information about legal, financial, and personal matters; verify people's backgrounds, finding missing persons, and investigating computer crimes.
  • Jobs not related to L.L.B. that graduates can apply to

    These jobs will mainly depend on the undergraduate course that one has finished or the existing position that one is holding. For example, an accountant who graduated Bachelor of Laws may work as an accountant; a teacher may continue teaching and so on.
  • Career Opportunities Abroad

    The law profession is a course distinct from country to country. Every nation has a diverse set of law governing them thus Filipino lawyers are not in demand abroad. To be able to practice law abroad you need to study the course and pass the examination in the country of your choice. However, there are countries like the United States who allow Filipino lawyers to practice law in their country provided that they are able acquire a certain number of subject units and pass state US bar examination (See source 1 and source 2).

    As employment opportunities for lawyers in the Philippines are excellent and compensation is fairly high, most Lawyers do not feel the need to go and work in other countries.
  • Salary Levels

    Salary levels for graduates of the L.L.B. program vary greatly. It depends whether you passed the Philippines Bar Exam and became a registered lawyer, whether you work in a private law firm, a legal department of a company or in the government sector, your specialization, experience and abilities.

    Generally speaking, salaries for certified lawyers would be quite high compared to the average salary in the Philippines.

Reviews of Bachelor of Laws graduates:

A. M.
Studied Law
at Arellano University School of Law , Pasay
Graduated: 1999

Why did I choose this course:
I wanted to be a lawyer.

About my college education:
It was difficult since I was pressured by my father to pursue law. You need to be good with memorizing stuff, but it's fun too, you can easily relate with the senate.

My current job:
I am now a lawyer. I am proud. Very proud.

Am I using what I learned in college:
Yes. I used what I learned.

How long did it take to find a job after graduation:
1 month.

Do I recommend studying Law:
Not much employment opportunities since the course is very specific. It's very fulfilling since everyone respects you and you can earn a lot. Salary level is high once you get known.

Advice to people who are thinking of studying this course:
Be brave. There's a lot of paperwork, a lot of things you need to memorize.
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