By: Archiebald Faller Capila
In law school, we encounter law professors who make our jaws drop because of their respective brilliance and knowledge in the field of law. We laud them for being carbon copies of the books we read and mirror images of the cases we study. Indeed, law school is a place wherein students not only learn the ways of the law but also meet the people knowledgeable of these topics.
Most of these law professors, aside from being experts in their chosen fields of law, engage in other activities as well. Their legal brilliance is at par with none because they manage to juggle their time and engagements. Accordingly, some of our law professors are also well-known authors and reviewers who manage to extend their knowledge to others. These authors and reviewers serve as an extension of our law schools because they give additional knowledge in our pursuit of the law.
We often ask ourselves—how do they do it? We are already in awe of how our professors manage to teach the law in a grand manner. And for those who engage in writing books and teaching in review centers, we cannot comprehend how they can do it all. We will always look for answers as to what inspired them and how they keep on pushing forward in their chosen careers and ventures.
In a long list of lawyer-authors and reviewers, Atty. Manuel R. Riguera remains to be one of the most popular. From his primer-reviewers to his known presence in the field of review centers, Atty. Riguera’s name has echoed through the halls of law schools and law offices alike.
So what is the story behind Atty. Riguera’s success in the legal profession? In an exclusive interview with Barrista Solutions, Atty. Riguera shares his inspiration behind his books, his story as an early practitioner of the law, and his message to the students looking to become lawyers in the near future.
Barrista Solutions: Who and what inspired you to pursue law? Looking back, how do you describe your journey as a lawyer today?
Atty. Riguera: The fact that I loved reading books and that I felt that my reading comprehension was quite good led me to consider pursuing law. The person who inspired me to pursue law was Senator Renato Cayetano. He spoke before us high school students during a career forum (he was a partner at ACCRA then) and encouraged us to take up law. He was a good speaker and was nattily dressed in a business suit. I suppose that being a lawyer, Senator Cayetano made quite a compelling argument to take up law.
Looking back, I would describe my journey as a lawyer to be a challenging and eventful one. After graduation, I worked as a legal researcher at the law firm of my fraternity brod Danilo G. Macalino. Atty. Macalino was not only my boss but also my mentor and I learned a lot from him. I worked as a court attorney or law clerk for Supreme Court Justice (later Chief Justice) Hilario G. Davide, Jr. I learned to research and write carefully because Justice Davide assiduously read and edited every draft decision submitted to him by the law clerks and required citations for legal points asserted in the draft. Then I worked as a bank lawyer for Insular Savings Bank, a legal manager for an investment bank, Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc., before I decided to join my wife in our law firm. So my exposure to legal practice is quite varied and interesting if I may say so. I was a court attorney, a bank lawyer, a securities lawyer, and presently I am a litigation lawyer and law professor, although I’ve stepped back a bit from trial lawyering and I am now more into teaching and writing about the law.
Barrista Solutions: You have been a professor of law for quite a time now. What motivated or inspired you to engage in teaching?
Atty. Riguera: It was my close friend Junie Lutian who motivated and inspired me to teach law. After graduation, Junie immediately taught law in several law schools and I could see that he really loved to teach. He encouraged me to apply for a teaching position in San Sebastian College-Recoletos Institute of Law and the University of Perpetual Help-Rizal College of Law in 1996. I’m grateful to Junie for inspiring and motivating me to teach and for SSC-R law dean Rufus B. Rodriguez and retired Supreme Court Justice Isagani A. Cruz, the law dean of University of Perpetual Help Las Piñas, for giving me then the opportunity to teach.
Barrista Solutions: Our legal education is one of the aspects gravely affected by the said pandemic. As a professor of law yourself, what major changes have you done with respect to the manner of teaching?
Atty. Riguera: I presently teach Remedial Law Review. When I was teaching in person, I employed the Socratic method. But now because of COVID-19 and the need to teach online, I’ve shifted to the lecture method. Since I’m teaching a review course, I felt I could cover a lot more territory by lecturing. Of course, the Socratic method is still advisable even for review subjects; it’s a matter of discretion for the handling professor whether to use one method or the other.
Barrista Solutions: From your own perspective, what are the major problems that law students experience during these times? How do you connect to them knowing that there is a worsening condition of the COVID-19 outbreak?
Atty. Riguera: Law students experience a less intensive interaction with their fellow students and with the professors due to remote learning. Law school is not just about theoretical learning but also about being a member of an academic community, the social and academic interaction among students and between students and the faculty and administration.
From time to time, I remind students of the need to take care of their health and to observe physical distancing and other prophylactic measures. It helps to relieve the anxiety, knowing that we are looking out for each other.
Barrista Solutions: You are a well-known author with respect to different fields of law. Accordingly, law students admire your works as they help them understand the topics in a concise and efficient manner. What motivated you to write these books? How important is it for you on hearing such praises from your students and peers?
Atty. Riguera: My desire to empower law graduates to pass the bar was what motivated me to write my books. Hearing praises from my students and peers of course will inspire any author. It also shows that one has done a good job of writing a book. I certainly would also welcome suggestions to improve my work.
Barrista Solutions: Back in law school, who were your favorite authors and how did they influence you in writing your set of law books?
Atty. Riguera: Offhand, I can mention the books of Justice Edgardo Paras, Hector De Leon, and Aguedo Agbayani. I have a lot of other favorite authors but I was influenced by the style of the authors I have mentioned of liberally using illustrations or examples to help the reader understand the law. For my bar review books, I adopted the Q&A style of Fr. Joaquin Bernas and Jaime Nuevas.
Barrista Solutions: Aside from being a professor of law, you have been engaged in different activities concerning the legal profession in general. How do you manage your time in attending to your different duties and responsibilities?
Atty. Riguera: I’m more engaged in appellate practice and writing pleadings than in trial work now. I manage my time by entrusting the greater bulk of the trial work to my partners in the firm, but I still try some selected cases from time to time.
Barrista Solutions: What is your favorite lesson from law school that you still stick to or continue to practice now that you are a lawyer?
Atty. Riguera: One should not stop being a student of the law. One should always have the curious attitude of a law student. That is why I always endeavor to keep abreast of the latest law and jurisprudence in my field of practice and teaching.
Barrista Solutions: If you could give a piece of advice or any form of message to your younger self, what would it be?
Atty. Riguera: Take better care of your health, particularly being careful of your diet, having enough sleep, exercising, and having regular check-ups. Because of the stress and long working hours, lawyers are notorious for having health issues. A healthy lawyer is a better lawyer.
Barrista Solutions: What are your tips to all law students out there dreaming of passing or even topping the Bar exams?
Atty. Riguera: Practice and improve your legal writing and legal reasoning skills. Law students often focus wholly on the acquisition of theoretical knowledge, forgetting that good legal writing and legal reasoning are as essential to hurdling the bar examination.
· Atty. Manuel R. Riguera is a professional lecturer at the Far Eastern University Institute of Law and the University of Asia & the Pacific Institute of Law. He is currently the Review Director, a Bar Reviewer, and a Senior Coach of the Jurist Bar Review Center. He is also a Partner at the Riguera & Riguera Law Office. He also served as the Commissioner of the Legal Education Board. He is the author of the Primer-Reviewer on Remedial law published and printed by Central Book Supply, Inc.