Updated: Jul 8, 2021
By Archiebald Faller Capila
To teach is to be able to touch lives—such is a fact that has strengthened the cores of our society since time immemorial. History has been a witness as to how teachers molded their respective students into becoming better versions of themselves. Teachers have been the instruments in producing great professionals who carve their respective niche in this world of specialization.
In the legal community, law professors are regarded with the highest of honors. In the ever-growing pool of lawyers, professors, and instructors of the law serve as the backbone of the profession wherein they serve as the first line of seeing to it who becomes a lawyer or not. In whatever place or area in the country one may be, it is safe to say that law professors are in fact the keen observers of the legal community.
With their eyes for talent, skill, brilliance, and hard work, law professors serve as the core of law schools. They serve as the source of knowledge and determination of law students aspiring to become legal barons if and when they surpass law school and eventually succeed in taking the bar.
It is no secret to everyone that the works and methods of law professors have been handed down from one generation to another. It is safe to say that traditions in law schools remain with respect to how a professor must teach, what he or she should teach, and what kind of approach should the same be. However, throughout time, it can be gleaned that there has been some changes on how things work in the legal profession, especially for a law professor, especially during this time of a pandemic.
One of the many professors who needed to adjust is Atty. Lyan David M. Juanico. Teaching even at an early stage of his legal career, Atty. Juanico needed to weigh in various situations in order to effectively teach and efficiently device several methods that would help his students.
In an exclusive interview with Barrista Solutions, Atty. Juanico shares with us his thoughts on the legal profession, the status of legal education today, and a message to his students as well as those fighting for their dreams to become a lawyer soon.
Barrista Solutions: Being a professor in these times, you now see the study of law in a different perspective. What are the changes that you notice with respect to law students nowadays in their pursuit of a law degree, if any? What are the similarities and differences with respect to your methods compared to that of today’s students?
Atty. Juanico: Law students nowadays face a difficult task of learning the law in the midst of a global pandemic. To enter law school during an unprecedented pandemic requires a lot of courage, concentration, perseverance, and dedication, considering that studying law in itself is already a tremendous task. For that, today’s law students all deserve a pat on the back.
I cannot tell what the study methods of my students are. However, I can say there is one factor which greatly helped me in my study of law which, unfortunately, the students of today are deprived of. It is social interaction. Being able to communicate in person with people who also experience the very same dilemma made my law school journey tolerable and enjoyable. As we all know, law school challenges not only the intellect of its student. It also tests their physical and mental strength. Thus, social interaction is crucial as it affects the physical and mental well-being of any person. The more social interaction a person has, the lesser chance he or she will experience dejection, self-isolation, and stress.
This lack of social interaction resulted to a lot of awkward incidents in my first-year classes. If the students are able to interact face-to-face, they could have steered clear from these situations. There was this one time when I asked a student to recite a case and she responded that the class beadle failed to disseminate the necessary information to the class. I felt sorry not only for the class beadle but also for the student reciting because this could have been avoided if the students had social interaction.
It is my fervent desire that when this pandemic ends, all of the law students will be able to bond and unite. After all, the legal community is so small that it is impossible to work alone without dealing with other lawyers. Law students should keep in mind that their current classmates will be their future colleagues in the legal profession. As future colleagues, they owe to help each other.
Barrista Solutions: Time has been a witness to how lawyers say that the practice is very different from the study of law. For you, what are the major adjustments that you had to do in order to adapt to the practice right after you passed the bar?
Atty. Juanico: After passing the bar, I had to study all over again. A bar passer should not be of the impression that by simply passing the bar, he or she already has knowledge of everything and anything which a lawyer must possess in order to survive in the legal profession. A lawyer has to study over and over again. However, this time, studying is no longer confined to the four corners of the classroom, nor limited to law books and codals. Practice of law, aside from being equipped with legal knowledge, requires a lot of diskarte, pakikisama, and understanding as to how various organizations work.
Barrista Solutions: Because of the current pandemic, more practitioners and law professors are now using various virtual and online platforms. For you, is this more of an advantage or a disadvantage? Why?
Atty. Juanico: It is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Prior to the pandemic, it is impossible for a lawyer to attend two hearings or meetings in various locations, let us say one in Baguio and another one in Batangas, within the same day. In fact, a lawyer would struggle to attend his hearing in the morning, say in Quezon City, just to arrive in time for a meeting in the afternoon in another location just within Metro Manila on account of terrible traffic. However, this is now a reality because of online platforms.
As to the disadvantages, nothing beats the good old-fashioned transactions and meetings with clients and other people in person. A lawyer can clearly see a person’s dedication, passion, and candor when lawyering is done face-to-face.
Barrista Solutions: As of writing, reforms pertaining to the mode of the next Bar examinations are being pushed by certain authorities. As a professor of law, what do you think should the students do in order to excel in the newly proposed setting?
Atty. Juanico: Whether written, typewritten, or whatever mode the Bar examinations will be conducted, law students should never forget the core principles which they learned from their first day in law school. The late Dean Willard Riano inculcated to all his students and Bar reviewees that the Bar is and should always be meant to be a test designed to measure a law student’s aptitude for basic legal principles, which a new lawyer must ought to possess.
The complications brought about by this new normal and the reforms sought to be introduced by the Supreme Court should not cause unnecessary stress to law students. They should remain focused on understanding and mastering the important legal concepts needed to hurl the Bar examinations.
Barrista Solutions: You graduated as the Valedictorian of your batch and landed 11th place on the 2017 Bar examinations. Looking back, what are the major changes that you have encountered with respect to your personal practice after accomplishing such feat?
Atty. Juanico: After graduating from law school and passing the Bar, I did my best to improve my social skills. As mentioned earlier, the legal community is a small one. The ability to interact with people from different backgrounds is important in the legal profession.
Other than that, nothing has changed. I am still me. At the end of the day, these accolades and even the title of “Atty.” do not and should never define me as a person.
Barrista Solutions: As a professor of law, how do you inspire your students to keep pushing forward and to not give up on their dreams of becoming a lawyer?
Atty. Juanico: I am teaching first year students. So, it is my duty and obligation to teach them “soft skills” which they can use in their law school journey. These include the: (i) proper way to answer hypothetical questions in examinations and recitations; (ii) issue spotting; (iii) how to study codal provisions and cases; (iv) how to digest cases; and (v) even how to properly dress for court hearings.
Hopefully, through these little steps, I get to inspire my students to pursue their dreams of becoming part of the legal profession.
Barrista Solutions: It has been said and proven by many lawyers that the study of law and the actual practice is different in so many ways. For you, what were the lessons you have picked up in law school that you continue to use today in your career?
Atty. Juanico: Discipline. Law school taught me that I should wake up early every morning, work my as* off, and get my sh*t done. The grind just never stops. As what former United States Secretary of States Colin Powell said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”
Barrista Solutions: What do you look forward to in the near future with respect to your career as a professor of law?
Atty. Juanico: In the near future, I look forward to seeing my students actually pass the bar, take the lawyer’s oath, and sign the roll of attorneys. But more than that, I am hoping to see my students to make an impact in the Philippine society.
Barrista Solutions: If you could give an advice or any form of message to your younger self, what would it be and why?
Atty. Juanico: To my younger self who struggled with insecurity and self-distrust brought about by bullying and depression, just hold on and continue to improve yourself. Do not feel defeated because everything will get better.
Barrista Solutions: What are your tips and message to all law students out there dreaming of finishing law school and eventually passing the Bar exams any time soon?
Atty. Juanico: Ora et labora. Study as if everything depends upon you. Pray as if everything depends on God.
· Atty. Lyan David M. Juanico is a law professor at the San Beda University College of Law. He graduated as the Class Valedictorian of his batch at San Beda University and placed 11th in the 2017 Bar Examinations. He is also an Associate at the law firm of SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan.