By: Archiebald Faller- Capila
Among all the eight subjects comprising the Philippine Bar Exams, Legal Ethics is the only part that comprises only 5% of the whole examination. In short, it is not one of the major bar subjects.
Some would say that it would barely affect one’s standing by the time the results come out. Some would say that because it only comprises a small fraction of the whole set of exams, one does not need to dwell too much time studying the same.
These are all misconceptions because Legal Ethics still plays a vital role during the Bar exams. Having a hefty portion of that 5% may decide on whether or not a candidate will be accepted to the list of new lawyers in the country. In short, it is also essential to allot bar review time for this subject.
In addition, concise reading materials are needed in the study of Legal Ethics. Preparing for the Bar Examinations already comes with it pressure in studying major subjects. The study of Legal Ethics, for that matter, must be made in a way that is efficient amidst time constraints. Because of such circumstances, a candidate must have the proper reading materials in preparing for the said set of exams.
Among the materials you could use for Legal Ethics, in preparation for the Bar exam, are the following:
· Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility
· Legal and Judicial Ethics by Atty. Ruben E. Agpalo
Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility
For those who already took their respective Bar exams and passed the same, majority of them confessed that they did not have enough time studying Legal Ethics. However, they averred that what played a big role in passing the same is that they memorized by heart the contents of the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility. If a candidate will be able to memorize this, he or she will have a proper legal basis on whatever question there is that pertains to Legal Ethics. And in order to substantiate it, even more, a candidate who can cite specific canons and rules under the Code of Professional Responsibility will have better chances of crafting a legally sound answer.
The Lawyer’s Oath is considerably shorter compared to other laws pertaining to other subject matters. In addition, the canons provided for in the Code of Professional Responsibility as well as its rules only comprise of short descriptions compared to other codal provisions. Unlike any other laws, these materials offer basic and understandable terms because it focuses on characters of officers of the courts. If a candidate will be able to familiarize with each of them, or even memorize these—then there will be a good chance of hitting a high mark for this specific set of exams during the Bar week.
Legal and Judicial Ethics by Atty. Ruben E. Agpalo
If a candidate will be able to have some spare time reviewing for this subject, then he or she must consider looking back at some landmark cases as well. Bar questions in Legal Ethics are often lifted from decided cases by the Supreme Court. Because there is a multitude of decided cases involving lawyers who have violated their respective oaths, it is hard for a candidate to keep track of all of these. Luckily, Atty. Agpalo’s book offers some decided cases which are usually discussed in law school for Basic Legal Ethics or even Problem Areas in Legal Ethics. These cases are what one may call “staple” cases because these usually include multitude violations of lawyers. Because of this, the discussion is more profoundly academic yet direct to the point.
The advantage of which is that a case may involve several rules and canons provided for by the Code of Professional Responsibility. In addition, Atty. Agpalo’s book also tackles cases wherein the respondent in the case is a judge. This forms part of a major difference because judges have a different code that guides them in their practice, which is the Code of Judicial Conduct. Because of this addition, the book basically offers cases that tackle a wide coverage. However, it does not mean that the book is not reader-friendly because of its length. As mentioned a while ago, the book only offers landmark cases or those which are most important in the study of legal ethics. A candidate may use this in order to fully grasp the application of the Lawyer’s Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Code of Judicial Ethics.
Even though Legal Ethics only forms part of 5% of the whole Bar examinations, it still plays a big role in whether or not a candidate would pass. Mainly lodged on memory work, a candidate must be able to read and familiarize him or her with the basic laws pertaining to the subject. And with the help of the actual laws governing the same, as well as some landmark cases, favorable results may be expected by the time the results come out.
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