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From Ansky, Accidental Lawyer

(Article published in the Aug 27, 2008 issue of Manila Standard Today)  

This week, as thousands of would-be lawyers troop to their bar review and pre-week sessions, I yield my space to Anna Patricia R. Del Castillo:

The bar is a gruelling series of tests held on four successive Sundays in September. .. If you are not dedicated to the law, or at the very least, interested, passing the bar might be one big and difficult hurdle for you.

And that’s what happened to me. I took up my course with apathy and nonchalance. In college, I acted as if it was not the beginning of my LIFE as an adult, as if it wouldn’t spell out my future.  Of course, I know better now, but back then, I was just into partying, partying, and partying… It was pretty much the same in law school. I still went out a lot to hang out with friends, but I also had to work myself to death during exam time. I also had to get it together enough everyday to make it through roasts (or those massacre recitations!).

Then I took the bar. Being a born crammer, I knew I had to be serious and work like crazy all those six months before the bar. I asked around and the usual schedule was to read at least a hundred pages a day, which meant at least ten hours of reading and listening to review lectures daily. I did all of these. But when the bar results came, my name wasn’t on the list. It was devastating.
 










     

People who cram and get by start to think that they’re smarter than the others. I was one of them. When I flunked the bar, I realized that I wasn’t that smart after all.  That working oneself to death for six months wasn’t enough. I realized that I wasted eight years of my life. Flunking the bar made me realize that there was no clear-cut path in my life. My future suddenly became hazy and uncertain, and I started on an uncharted path.  I was faced with questions like, should I continue studying and take the bar again? Or should I just begin a new career path, a whole new life where I would be in charge? I began to understand the meaning of failure, hardship, and of destiny, and the role that we play in our own lives. If I did take the road to a new career path - older, wiser and tougher me knew that I would be faced with many new challenges and possibilities of failure. It was a scary thought, but it was also exciting. However, I couldn’t resist a second try at the bar examinations. First of all, I had all of this knowledge swimming around with nowhere to go. Second, I knew that being allowed to take the bar again is a blessing because it is some sort of having an advantage over others since you would have studied twice, thrice, or even four times or five times more than the others taking it for the first time. Third, I was allergic to failure, and maybe I could redeem myself by passing the next time. So I took the bar again.

I studied like mad. The real world faded away, and there was just me and my books. Officially, I wasn’t a crammer anymore since I studied most of this stuff the first time around.  I really tried to understand every work I read, and prayed hard that I would remember what I read and retain the knowledge.  Somewhere along the way, I began to truly find myself. One day, while studying for the nth hour, I suddenly began to cry. It was self-pity, and the realization that I have never worked so hard in my life. Studying for the bar is the toughest thing that a person can do because it takes over your life and requires all your concentration, energy and patience. It makes you forego any other kind of desires for months, all past-times and hobbies, all meaningful relationships. It requires all that you can give, and more. When I say I found myself, I mean, it was as if I went around the world and across the universe, and then I found myself, my soul, the me that cannot be defined by my likes, dislikes, and personal definition of the meaning of love. I found myself and I was a star, never fading, always glowing, always present and casting a unique shine. Despite the fact that I had almost no interaction with other people for months, this me that I found was the me alone, and also the me in relation to others. When I found myself, there was no turning back, no return slips for defective goods, no exchanges. I found forever me.

Then I took the bar again. Since I didn’t pass the first time, my confidence was shady and my composure precarious. But I held it together and just answered as fast and concisely as I could, wrote legibly, and prayed as I never did before. After the exams, it was difficult to determine whether I would pass or not. The bar is just like that, so uncertain, because of so many possible answers, and only one of them will turn out right. So I waited for six long months. When the results were released, my classmates and friends found out before I did.  It was so touching how they seemed more ecstatic and excited than I was!  If passing the first time means holding a congratulatory party, passing the second time means having a sigh of relief.  It is reclaiming your lost confidence, beginning to trust yourself again, and finally believing that this is meant to happen. It is getting on the right path again, and finding your friends and lovers still there, like finding your life waiting for you.

Everyone says that: it was meant to happen. But what does that mean? It means you had a lot more to learn before getting to where you are, and that the reason for the course your path took would reveal itself in time. For me, the reason was I had to grow up and be one with my soul. What did happen to the girl who only thought about what to wear and which party to go to? Well, now she thinks about which books to read, and how to schedule her activities for the day. Still here, but different.

I also discovered that being a lawyer was my true path despite being just carried along with it. When I found myself, I began to understand the world more, be more caring but responsible and emphatic in my views. I want to help people. And being a lawyer is one of the best paths to do that. I can volunteer in non-governmental organizations that help the poor, the environment, orphans and abused people. I can venture into governmental  and pioneer policies that are directed towards helping people and the earth, or handle cases and make a direct contribution towards the betterment of the life of my client. Being a lawyer creates a sense of power and responsibility that I wouldn’t have had in another career. Now that I’m a lawyer, I thank my parents and those who helped me, and I’m excited to voyage out and begin my life of changing the world.

Anne took her oath as a new lawyer in April 2008, and passed away in June 2008.

 

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