By: Archiebald Faller Capila
One way or another, the profession of law and the journey to get there will bring with them a fact you cannot escape—those who will try to become lawyers will fail. For some, failure pertains to certain recitations, quizzes, and exams. For some, failure relates to a subject or two. For some, failure means being delayed. For some, it is trying more than once before passing the Bar exams.
Failure comes in different forms. In law school, however, the same takes place in a familiar event—that is by not reaching a standard grade set by a system that you are a part of. In the long run, it refers to the ultimate equalizer of the study—the Bar exams. The latter provides us a lot of inspiring stories. Some candidates conquer it all and top the said exams. Some candidates raise their heads up high because of surpassing the same only once. Some candidates manage to reach the top after failing once. At the end of the day, they all survive the tests of their respective journeys. At the end of the day, they became the lawyers they always wanted to be.
However, for some, the journey to passing the Bar is not easy. To some, it would take more than just one try. For Atty. Camille Joy C. Gestuveo, she needed to fail thrice before finally claiming that elusive title of becoming an attorney. For her, she needed to forge a path not experienced by many in order to become who she is today—a successful practitioner in her chosen field of practice.
In an exclusive interview with Barrista Solutions, Atty. Gestuveo shares with us what obstacles she surpassed in law school, what she thinks went wrong in her journey, and a message to those who are still waiting for the perfect time before becoming a full-fledged lawyer.
Barrista Solutions: What was your greatest obstacle that you had to encounter before becoming a full-fledged lawyer?
Atty. Gestuveo: To be honest, I had so many obstacles in life before reaching where I am today. Back then, I was not confident about myself and what I can do. Accordingly, there were times that I was very complacent with everything I do. I had to deal with family issues, side-hustles or rakets, and the way I study all at the same time. Most of the time, I felt inferior. Looking back, my biggest obstacle all boils down on how to survive law school. In the long run, I surpassed the same through the help of prayers. Because of this, I was able to do what was required of me. I developed patience and perseverance and learned to not give up on everything.
Barrista Solutions: Who or what served as your inspiration in moving forward with your dreams of becoming a member of the legal profession?
Atty. Gestuveo: For me, my inspiration was the idea of who I wanted to become. With all the challenges that I have surpassed, of all the failures, it was my dream which inspired me the most. I failed the Bar exams three times. My first take was in 2008, then in 2009. It took me 2 years before taking it again in 2011, but I failed again. I took the refresher course for one year. But it was only last 2016 when I decided to take it again. It was that time when I passed. Despite all the hardships, my inspiration remained.
For me, it was achieving what you want for yourself. For me, what I want is to help the family and community I grew up with. Accordingly, I also have my spiritual circle which is the CFC Handmaids of the Lord. The group served as a moving force when I took the Bar. Through their support and prayers, I was inspired to take the Bar which eventually yielded good fruits.
Barrista Solutions: Because of all that has happened, did you ever consider quitting?
Atty. Gestuveo: There were times when I was discouraged. As you can observe, during my first take in 2008, I was very excited. For my second take in 2009, still had high hopes. But for my third take in 2011, I only had 50% of the hope I originally felt. It was my last shot before taking the refresher course. And as you can see, it took me five years before finally taking the Bar again. During that time, I was working in the real estate field. And within that time frame, I took the Real Estate Broker Licensure Exam. I passed the same which gave me hope and a positive thought to give the Bar exams another try. So it can be told that I only took a break, but I did not quit.
Barrista Solutions: How did you deal with external factors in studying for the Bar?
Atty. Gestuveo: During those times, I had a lot to deal with. I had a lot of frustrations as well. I had a lot of failures in law school. There was a lot going on in my mind. I wanted to finish on time because I kept telling myself that I’m not getting any younger. In that journey, I took shortcuts—which I later regretted.
However, in the long run, I realized that what I lacked was desire and focus. On my previous takes, I had a lot in my mind which affected my performance in the exams. However, in 2016, I found in me the desire to finally pass. During my review, I tried the things I haven’t tried before. I quit my work and stopped all my side hustles. I really focused on the Bar. I told my parents that I will be needing their support again.
In addition, I also attended family retreats in between. I come from a broken family so the retreat helped me do away with the pain in my heart. During this time, I was able to forgive my father for everything. And when I did it, I felt prepared. The hate I had before became my inspiration. I was able to accept the things I never did understand before.
Another thing is that I learned the value of perseverance. If we give up, we don’t have any chance of achieving our goals. My spirituality was developed during these trying times. Above everything else, if we don’t have Divine Intervention, everything would seem impossible. But with Him, under his mercy and strength—everything is possible. Studying is a given in law school and in taking the Bar, but the same must be accompanied by prayers. This is where my realization entered—the Bar is not only an exam which requires mental capacity. It tests everything—physical, spiritual, emotional, and even your financial state.
Barrista Solutions: What are you looking forward to in your career in the near future?
Atty. Gestuveo: My main goal is just to be ready for my clients all the time. I want to be a lawyer who they can rely on. I would like to be a spiritual adviser, coach, or mentor as well to those who have lost hope. You see, my life is an open book. It is not a secret that I flunked the Bar multiple times. However, I use this experience as my main strength. I have become a better person and lawyer out of this. The practice must always be a wholehearted service to the client. The financial aspect of which is merely a bonus. What I have today, a small office but filled with contentment, is everything to me. We are quickly expanding as well. And I will always be thankful to God that He gave me this opportunity when I was ready.
Barrista Solutions: What tips or suggestions could you advise those who will be taking the next Bar examinations?
Atty. Gestuveo: My advice is that you should believe in yourself so that you could tell other people to believe in you. Always have with you your guidance, inspirations, and prayers. If you have them, then God will be in control. God will always be there to guide you. Exert more effort in the study of the law and be more compassionate as well. Remember also the reason on why you want to become a lawyer. What is your “why”?
Another tip is to develop our character through patience. You can’t always Google or ask friends for legal questions. Try to isolate yourself and have pure focus. Familiarize yourself with a study habit along with a focused character. Lastly, develop a good prayer time with the Lord. He knows everything and he can do anything. I know because I am a living testimony of the saying “nothing is impossible.”
Barrista Solutions: What is your message for those who have taken a break or are in doubt on whether or not the practice of law is for them?
Atty. Gestuveo: I advise them to never give up. That’s the only thing. The moment you give up on yourself, that’s the moment you also give up on the chances you could have taken. If you are tired, it is always alright to take a break. Those years I have spent made me learn the hard way that we cannot achieve something that is too easy. We must exert effort. It is always a part of the journey. So if you are feeling that you need to quit, just relax and take a break. Your time will come and it will be the perfect time.
Barrista Solutions: What is your message to all the aspiring lawyers out there?
Atty. Gestuveo: This journey that we have is very unique. Those who never experienced law school will never understand us. We cannot defend ourselves to those who cannot understand our perils. They would not understand the phrase “law is a jealous mistress.”
The study requires a lot of focus and passion on your part. Exhaust your efforts. Test your characters. In the long run, it will be a walk in the park. Remember that stumbling blocks make you better. Accept what is in front of us. Do whatever is necessary. Do your best. If you have this attitude of not giving your all, you will create doubts. The study of law must start with a positive note and end with a victory. It is the only way you could win.