HomeCommentaryTo teach law in the grand manner and to make great lawyers

To teach law in the grand manner and to make great lawyers

Lawyers, as professionals, are expected to uphold the ethical and moral values that are said to be essential to the fabric that holds society together

Under the Canons of Professional Ethics, a lawyer should strive at all times to uphold the honor and to maintain the dignity of the legal profession.

This is the same message of former vice president Leni Robredo for lawyers to continue fighting for a just and humane society, and not to lose the will to fight for what is right.

Robredo was the guest of honor during the recent homecoming of the University of the Philippines College of Law hosted by batch 1997 with the theme “Giting at Galing. Tatak UP Law.”

During her speech, Robredo narrated that it was a “photo finish” appearance. She just got out from the Manila airport at 5 p.m. after an almost 30-hour flight (with an eight hour layover) from Boston to Manila. She was a speaker at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership.

“Always a joy to be with the community,” said Robredo, adding that even if she is not a product of UP Law, it is “good to be home.” She finished her law degree in Bicol, but she was a product of the UP School of Economics.

I fondly told her that we belong to the same group of UP Econ jubilarians, she was from batch 1986 while I belong to batch 1991. Robredo was seated beside my professor and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Robredo essentially relayed the same message she delivered during this year’s UP Law graduation rites: “Never give up despite injustices and immense disinformation.”

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While she believes that historical distortion and lies will end, she also called on UP lawyers to be there in the “battlefield” so that the “war for justice, for dignity, for truth, inclusiveness, and solidarity be ultimately won.”

Robredo said that being a good lawyer is not just about one’s mastery of jurisprudence but is about living true to the principles of the profession.

As one enters UP College of Law, the imposing words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. welcomes us to Malcolm Hall: “The business of a law school is not sufficiently described when you merely say that it is to teach law or make lawyers. It is to teach law in a grand manner, and to make great lawyers.”

The UP Law was among the first seven colleges established after the foundation of UP on June 18, 1908, through Act No.1870.

The college produced academicians, judges, private and public sector lawyers, government officials, politicians and all types of business professionals across industries.

UP Law has its fine share in Philippine history as it produced four presidents, namely Jose Laurel, Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, and Ferdinand Marcos, aside from at least 22 senators. Fourteen out of the 27 Supreme Court chief justices are from UP Law.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno of Class 1962 was given a tribute and reminded fellow alumni that “the values of truth, justice and morality have been taught to all who have passed the corridors of wisdom in our College of Law.”

“Be brave and serve well with meaningful resolve,” said my professor and Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. “Show compassion and empathy and use the law to empower others. Stay always on the side of integrity and speak up against any form of injustice and discrimination,” he added.

Law school years were indeed difficult moments, but the best and memorable times spent with those who shared the experience. Those years were full of vivid memories that still bring smiles and funny thoughts to each one, many years hence.

“We are both proud and humbled that the UP Law has contributed significantly to molding who we are today,” said Annette Gozon-Valdez, president of UP Law class of 1997. “We try our best everyday to live up to the ideals and teachings our professors have instilled in us. May we never tarnish the name of such revered institution,” she added.

I consider 1997 as my sandwich batch as I belong to batches 1996 and 1998. I entered UP Law in 1992 but I took the bar in 1998 instead of 1996.

I chose to be a working student under the evening classes program. As a reporter for a major news outfit, I would make my coverage starting 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. then rush to UP for my evening classes. I would read my cases while inside the moving bus from Diliman to Las Pinas under the strongest light source.

Encounters with law professors during the dreaded recitations involved answers that range from direct lifting from the SCRAs “in the original,” for those who studied, to inventions through guess work for those who didn’t. Despite the “torture,” most of the memorable moments in law school were funny blunders during class recitations.

Lawyers, as professionals, are expected to uphold the ethical and moral values that are said to be essential to the fabric that holds society together.

Passion for the law is dedication to do what is right.

Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail [email protected], or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.

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