Bersamin wants to end Bar exams madness: Pass or fail na lang!

Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin wants to put an end to Filipinos’ obsession with topping the annual Bar Exams by adopting the no-frills American system.

In his 4-point reform agenda unveiled during a dinner hosted by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) last month, Bersamin urged the country’s law deans present to study the “pass/fail” approach which is practised in the United States.

This means the Bar exams would not be graded and no topnotchers would be feted.

Except for Jose L. Quintos (96.33 percent) of Escuela de Derecho in 1903, there was no topnotcher on record in the Bar’s history from 1901 to 1912.

Topnotchers have been celebrated annually since 1913 when former President Manuel A. Roxas bested his class.

House Deputy Secretary General Darren De Jesus agreed with Bersamin on keeping the Bar Exams simple.

“It effectively makes the Bar exams a more practical exercise more attuned to the legal practice. The Bar exams have evolved into a legal festivity — examinees are treated like VIP in a parade, examiners’ identities shrouded in secrecy and exam questions anticipated, mocked and criticized. On the buildup for the examinations, money is spent on review centers and on operations in hotels and reviewers are updated almost yearly. Afterwards, the entire legal community waits for its results and its topnotchers are treated like celebrities, interviewed by news channels and big law firms start bidding wars in hiring them,” said de Jesus in a newspaper column.

“By stripping the Bar exams of all this hullabaloo, we would be focusing more on the essentials and that is picking who among the law graduates is worthy to practice law the way it is actually practiced in modern times, not just putting all attention to the Top 10, but on the entire group of Bar passers in general,” he added.

But de Jesus was skeptical if Bersamin could pull this off before his retirement in October this year or a month before the annual Bar exams.

“Topnotchers are treated like medals and badges by the law schools. As such, I am quite doubtful that this would ever be pulled off by CJ Bersamin, but I am thankful that a Chief Justice finally said it, hoping it would be picked up by the succeeding chief justices,” he said.

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