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Law School and Societal Affirmation

By: Archiebald Faller Capila

Only one thing is clear. I want to be a lawyer in the near future.

What I’ll do before attending law school or what I’ll be doing after which was one big blur. Of all the uncertainties and twisted clarities- all I am sure of is that one day, I’ll be a lawyer. Hopefully, a damn good one.

It has been my dream since I was a kid. Looking up to my father and all the political and para-legal acquaintances he has, I have perceived the profession of law as an elite one. I have considered lawyers as a class above a specific set of professions. Whenever I hear that someone I talked to or has been acquainted with is a Juris Doctor or a Bachelor of Laws, an incomparable amount of respect will immediately take place.

Societal affirmation.

Before choosing a course in college, only one thing was clear. I’ll take up a pre-law course and eventually enroll in a law school after. Why? Because I wanted attention. I wanted respect. I wanted the societal affirmation I see lawyers always gain. I wanted to be someone amidst the fact that I hail from the outskirts of a suburban municipality in the province of Quezon.

The real journey started when I took up BA-Public Administration at Southern Luzon State University. It was the best pre-law course for me because (1) I have no abilities or whatsoever skill in numerals so I did not choose BS-Accountancy, (2) I wanted to understand the threads and fabrics of the Philippine Government knowing that it is deemed or branded by most as the catalyst of all the problems in the country, and (3) I have this feeling that my political calling in the near future requires proper knowledge and background so that I could run for public office.

What I expected was to learn the different functions of the government and the people who run it. I wanted to be knowledgeable on the theories forged by political scientists and practitioners of public administration. I craved for the tips and techniques of local and foreign leaders on how they conquered their respective political arenas. I hoped to absorb such learnings and wanted to replicate the success of the political predecessors before me.

My expectations did not fail me- but being a student of the aforesaid course and university also showed me the reality behind such ambitions.

In a class full of aspiring lawyers and politicians, I realized that competition to prove your worth and brilliance is not needed. Instead, you’ll need your peers- the ones who share the same vision such as yours- and work for hand in hand to overcome your failures in discussing your stand on whether the former Chief Justice is guilty or not.

In a group of competitors that bring different flares of youth and idealism, I realized that one does not necessarily need to memorize the theories implied by books. Instead, one must be able to use them in the practical world of group projects, paper defenses, and classroom debates on particular socio-political issues.

Yes, my dream of becoming a lawyer and a politician is still intact. But as time passed by my view on how to gain respect and how to secure the ever-elusive societal affirmation has seemingly shifted gears.

Such a trend continued the moment I was called up for work after graduation. Never have I imagined working for the Provincial Government of Quezon - never until the Executive Assistant III of the Governor gave me a call. It was an offer I could not refuse. The opportunities working for the government, the Provincial Government of Quezon in particular, fascinated me. There were endless possibilities on how I could perform great at my job, and at the same time learn things in an objective political setting.

The possibilities did not disappoint me.

One day I’m a co-anchor for the television and radio program of the Provincial Government of Quezon, and the next I’m a cameraman putting our guest speakers and high officials into a perfect frame for projection. One day I’m a Master of Ceremony for a certain event, and the next I’m part of the production staff that delivers food for the guests of the program. One day I’m the political idealist, and the next I’m the kid and the ‘bunso’ of the office who sings wrong notes in the middle of our lunch break.

It’s been more than a year since I left my job though. It’s a decision I made to pursue a dream I always craved of fulfilling—to become a lawyer. Equipped with the experiences that have made my internal fortitude as strong as my will to become great, I’m managing to stay sane in this world of complicated legal provisions and jurisprudence.

The words ‘cases’, ‘codal provisions’, ‘hypothetical questions’, and ‘legal basis’ have now become customary to my language. In just my first year, I have become a witness to the stress and shock that is law school. I was in awe upon seeing around two rims of photocopies- reading assignments to be studied for just one meeting (and just one subject). I was out of words of compliant upon knowing that we are required to memorize 18 codal provisions (verbatim) for just two meetings, and 18 more the class after. I was frustrated on having to study for 8 straight hours for a day (plus 4 hours the evening before), only to get a failing grade the time I was called up for recitation because I could not explain properly the jurisprudence of an assigned case I have read and understood before my name got called up. Law school is truly a different animal.

However, amidst this gruesome process of surviving law school, one thing is clear and sure- I want to be a good lawyer. While my dream of becoming a good lawyer and a political asset in the near future remains intact, some things changed though- one of which is my perspective on collective avowal.

Respect is not given. It is earned- not through fancy addresses before your name but through the proper treatment and cooperation among your peers. Becoming a lawyer does not entitle you to become head-and-shoulders above other people- becoming a good person to the people who helps you in achieving such a dream does so. Clarity on what you want in the near future is not a necessity- but the proper way of doing it is. Societal affirmation must not be dreamed of- it comes.

I want to be good not in the way that I’ll become the legal and political juggernaut, but in the way that society will benefit one way or another from my political calling.

That is all the affirmation I’ll be needing.

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