Updated: Aug 24, 2021
By: Archiebald Faller Capila
Today’s time offers us a wide range of platforms—those which we could use in expressing in full what we have in mind. Social media now plays a vital role not only in information dissemination but also in sharing with other different stands and opinions regarding socio-political issues. These measures are often used by people in order to connect and interact with others so as to inform them of the different aspects of a discussion one may encounter.
Accordingly, some members of the legal profession have ventured into voicing out their respective stand regarding issues concerning governmental policies, plights of the private sector, and even the opinion of the general public. And as expected, these comments and suggestions coming from the legal profession are more often than not scrutinized by oppositors who are not fans of a healthy exchange of discussions.
But amidst all these, more and more young lawyers stand up and continue to represent a progressive voice in whatever social media platform they may be. Amidst all the personal attacks and the low blows of these commenters, young legal practitioners stay strong and firm with what they have in mind—an idea that by voicing out the pleas of a generation, we will eventually be heard by those who have the authority to change the status quo.
Standing at the helm of it all is Atty. Mae Diane M. Azores.
Immediately after the release of the 2019 Bar Examination Results wherein Atty. Azores was announced as the batch’s topnotcher, a multitude of followers flooded her social media accounts to see and hear in person what she has to say. Atty. Azores, being the bold and brave woman that she is, saw the same not as a challenge but as a responsibility to be informative and precise. Rightfully so, her idealism and good-hearted messages captured the attention of almost every law student in the country trying to be a part of the legal profession.
In an exclusive interview with Barrista Solutions, Atty. Azores shares with us what she thinks about the current state of the legal profession in the country, the practice of law in the “new normal,” and a message to all the law students out there.
Barrista Solutions: You are now officially a part of the youngest batch to ever brave the legal profession in the new normal. How do you think your batch will fair in today’s new approach to the legal practice?
Atty. Azores: Aside from the nerve-wracking and disquieting ordeal of waiting for the release of the Bar Exam results, our batch also had to deal with the abrupt changes caused by the pandemic in the way we live, act and work. We know that these changes already foreshadowed what is waiting for us in the legal profession and we had no choice but to somehow prepare ourselves for the “new normal”. Historically, we are now the first batch of bar examinees to await the results purely online and conduct a virtual oath-taking. So, moving on to the legal practice, we already have that mindset that everything will be unconventional, but we did not come unprepared. Harnessing our adaptability, youthful exuberance, technological knowledge, and our dedication to contribute meaningful changes to the legal profession, I think my batch will do exceptionally well in this “new normal” of the legal practice.
Barrista Solutions: Being technologically adept is one of the unwritten requirements for lawyers in today’s time. How do you see the practice of law moving forward with this kind of trend?
Atty. Azores: Even before the pandemic, I think that the legal profession is already on its way to embracing technology. With the introduction of the rules on electronic evidence, the recent amendments to the Rules of Court, which already recognizes electronic service and filing, we can see that the Court willingly accepts the changes brought by technology. This pandemic only fast-tracked what the Court is already doing. With the right amount of technology blended with the practice of law, I think that the administration of justice will be swifter and more accessible than before.
Barrista Solutions: If any, what are the difficulties that you encounter in practicing law in today’s time
Atty. Azores: In addition to the difficulties brought by the pandemic, there’s also that challenge to study and practice the new Rules on Civil Procedure, Rules on Evidence, and other issuances released by the Supreme Court to respond to the changes in this “new normal”. There are notable amendments that substantially deviate from what we learned in law school. We are not only the first batch of lawyers to start our practice under a debilitating pandemic but also the first ones to witness the transitioning of trial procedures and court processes electronically. It’s unorthodox but it’s also interesting and challenging.
Barrista Solutions: What are you looking forward to the most when it comes to practicing law during this time of the “new normal”?
Atty. Azores: As a young lawyer, I’m looking forward to learning and discovering matters that cannot be learned within the four corners of the classroom. Although interactions and transaction are mostly done online, there’s still that excitement to finally apply what I have learned in law school to actual scenarios.
Barrista Solutions: The legal profession, as of writing, is gravely affected by the pandemic. Personally, what do you think should be done in order to carry on with the normal course of legal transactions?
Atty. Azores: I think lawyers should already start investing in an online database and system where they can keep their records digitally. In that way, they can work remotely and respond to client queries wherever they may be. This may entail quite an amount of money, but I think in the long run, it will be extremely beneficial to their practice. Of course, we cannot turn a blind eye to the financial impact suffered by lawyers, particularly solo practitioners, because of the pandemic. If I may suggest, the Supreme Court should also address the issue of billings by lawyers on hearings done virtually. Moreover, because of the limited movement of people, connecting with lawyers have become difficult, but this can be an opportunity to welcome a digital network where clients can easily connect with lawyers for their legal needs.
Barrista Solutions: Since the announcement of the 2019 Bar Topnotchers, you have been an icon to most law students and practicing lawyers. How do you use your platform to influence your peers and colleagues?
Atty. Azores: Lately, I’ve been the subject of invectives, insults, and profanities just because I chose to speak up for what I believe is right and just. We now live in a society where people resort to harassment if what you say is against their beliefs. In a country where fake news and misinformation are prevalent, I cannot remain silent, otherwise, those who are helpless and voiceless will think that they are on the losing side and will just throw in the towel on our fight against corruption and tyranny.
Barrista Solutions: Now leading a progressive batch of lawyers, how do you see yourself in the near future as a practitioner of the law?
Atty. Azores: I envision myself as a corporate, tax, and human rights lawyer. I want to be a well-rounded lawyer whose integrity and principles are intact, one who remained true to her oath despite the temptations and challenges that came her way.
Barrista Solutions: If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Atty. Azores: All the hard work, pain, difficulties and sacrifices will be worth it. Don’t doubt yourself even for a second, God has amazing plans for you, do not worry.
Barrista Solutions: What is your message to all the students of the law out there trying to be a part of the legal profession someday?
Atty. Azores: Fall in love with the law, everything else will follow. When you fall in love with the law, you will see how it cultivates relationships, facilitates transactions, protects life, liberty, and property, and how it can save us from tyranny and abuse. When you fall in love with the law, you will appreciate it on a deeper level, despite its nuances and complexities, you will always be patient to read and understand it. Falling in love with the law will make you hold on to the dream of becoming a lawyer tighter than you used to, and giving up will never be an option. Be a lawyer who loves the law with all your soul and might, keep moving forward, this country needs you more than ever. Padayon, future Attorney!
· Atty. Mae Diane Azores placed first in the 2019 Bar Examinations. She is a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) College of Law in Legazpi City. She is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).