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Bar exams will always be held online – SC

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The Supreme Court (SC) has decided to continue the holding of all bar examinations starting 2022 online or in computerized format.

The first ever online and localized bar examinations were administered by the SC last Feb. 4 and 6 for the 2020-2021 law graduates in various testing centers nationwide.

Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo announced the continuation of all bar examinations online during the hybrid launching of the Legal Education Advancement Program (LEAP) of the Legal Education Board (LEB) last Thursday, Feb. 24.

“To sustain the momentum of this digital shift, the Court will pursue the conduct of all succeeding Bar Examinations in a computerized format, a long overdue innovation, to align with our Strategic Plan’s drive towards running all of the judiciary’s adjudicative and administrative systems digitally,” Gesmundo said.

He solicited the help of the LEB and the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) “to adopt the necessary change in policies and methodologies as the Court fully transitions to this new platform for administering the Bar Examinations.”

Thus, the Chief Justice said: “We suggest a complementary remodeling of pedagogical tools, therefore, to maximize the students’ use of technology in their learning, to better equip our law students with the adaptive skills to prepare them not only for a digitized Bar Examinations, but the digital world that they will practice law in.”

A press statement issued by the SC’s public information office (PIO) said that as early as 2019 when Gesmundo was still an associate justice “he had underscored the country’s need to advance its legal education when he chaired the first ever Legal Education Summit (LES).”

The PIO said the SC’s Technical Working Group on Implementing the Recommendations from the LES of 2019, chaired by Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, has already commenced its work to propose revisions to Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.

Gesmundo also said that among these “exciting changes” to look forward to are changes on the requirements for admission to the Bar, under Rule 138, including the revisions of (a) examination subjects; (b) weight of the subjects; (c) schedule of Bar Examinations; (d) completion of certain mandatory courses for applicants to the Bar Examinations; and (e) the proposed methodology for administering the Bar Examinations.

Also included in the revisions are the institutionalization of a certification program for law students who have completed a given number of units, which will allow them to render a limited number of services; and the provision of a Bar Manual to make the examinations easier to administer, more streamlined, and consistent from year to year, he said.

At the same time, the Chief Justice called for support from the academe on the SC’s planned National Legal Aid Summit to be held within this year or early next year.

He also called for their involvement in the SC’s Campaign for Ethical Responsibility which has started with the ongoing revision of the almost 35-year-old Code. The campaign will culminate in a National Summit on Ethical Responsibility in the last quarter of 2022, he said.

Associate Justice Hernando, chairperson of the Committee on Bar Reform, echoed Chief Justice Gesmundo statements. “If we are to see the day that our newly-minted legal professionals would become productive players and attuned to the needs of our society from the outset, we obviously need to look forward by coupling our academic focus with the realities of active practice. I see this plainly in the LEAP,” he said.

Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen was the chairperson of the 2020-2021 bar examinations committee. Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa is the chairperson of the committee on the 2022 bar examinations.

The PIO said the LEAP focuses on six target areas — the Model Law Curriculum Revision, Policy Reform which includes identifying Centers of Excellence and formulating a regulatory framework for government-run law schools, Knowledge under which LEB will undertake a Bar Examination Performance Study and a Mental Health Study, Access which includes establishing a Foundational Law Teaching Certification Program, Stakeholder Conferences, and Digital Adaptation which includes development of a Management Information System and a Learning Management System.

LEB Chairperson Anna Marie Melanie B. Trinidad expressed her appreciation to the judiciary. She said: “We have a Supreme Court that is heavily invested in legal education.”

REFERENCE/S:
Bar exams will always be held online – SC|Manila Bulletin

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