Saturday, April 05, 2008
This day in history from:

Inter-batch Objectivity and Pride

It seems like I've attracted enough attention, even of a highly-respected law professor from a highly-respected law school over a blog entry that I have already retracted but because we all love controversies, gets to be revived and relived whichever way possible.

And while I did link to his blog before on some topic, I don't anymore. I think I've done that way before all these came up because when I was supposed to do that today, I discovered his name does not appear in my blogroll anymore. But if you can show me where I link him, please inform me so I can act accordingly.

I think I commented on one of his entries but I think it was ignored. He would probably say it's a good thing he did. And I don't know the circumstances behind his decision to react now.

At the outset, anyone with enough tech-savvy can trace my real name. And I like my screen name, it comes from my surname. (There's a hint...)

Next, that retracted post was intended for the system and the decision to lower some objective standards in passing the bar exams. The unfortunate effect of casting "aspersions" (sorry, I had to look for the meaning of this word because I'm just a narcissistic non-famous lawyer) on the 2007 batch, probably because I was loud-mouthed enough to blog about my future hiring policy, was inadvertent and for that, I apologize.

And the unfortunate branding of this batch as inferior on my part is likewise inadvertent and likewise, I apologize for that.

The bar is just the beginning of their careers and what will dictate how well they will be as lawyers remain to be seen or proven through subsequent practice. I should have ended my entry that does not exist that way, that could have averted the lynch mob.

I also apologize for having an opinion on the matter. I will have no further opinions on anything and anyone in the future.

But what I cannot accept is this:

"Blogger/lawyer [that's me!] chooses to write off an entire batch without knowing the ENTIRE BATCH of bar passers; s/he chooses to dismiss them without the benefit of having seen some or most of them in class or in court; s/he chooses to stigmatize the batch for something they had absolutely no hand in--the lowering of the average."

Assuming that I did intend to write off the entire batch, the point is the bar examiners and the Supreme Court in general CANNOT AND MUST NOT KNOW THE ENTIRE BATCH taking the exams personally at all. That's precisely why the system takes pains to ensure anonymity of every examinee until decoding time.

That's also the point of having an objective standard cast in stone. The rules say 75% weighted average and no grade less that 50% in any exam (Section 14, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court) according to this blog-lecture. This was cast in stone then. Apparently, it's not now.

And that's the point why we have laws as rules in the first place. So there's no dispute or debate about anything.

Contrary to prevalent and popular belief nowadays, rules are NOT MEANT to be broken. They are meant to be followed.

Because all bar examinations are difficult, subjective and anonymous, that cancels out the argument that the 2007 Bar is a unique one that deserves special treatment. (Don't give me that "My bar is harder than your bar" argument.) But then again, the only thing special about the 2007 Bar is only 5% or 281 examinees met the original standard cast in stone. Any claim that the examiners were unusually strict that particular year has to have some basis, even to the point of testing that hypothesis scientifically, as I have picked up in another forum. I would personally believe that hypothesis if nobody met this objective standard. But 281 examinees did.

Is there a problem with this statistic?

I personally have no problem with that statistic. If only 281 examinees make the grade, then so be it. I don't know about the other stakeholders.

And what does it mean if an examinee from the 2007 bar exams does not meet this objective standard?

It means, he/she did not meet this standard.

What does not meeting this standard mean in the 2006 Bar or the others before it?

It simply means he/she cannot become a lawyer.

What does not meeting this standard mean in the 2007 bar?

Errrr... not as simple anymore... Apparently, your opinion is just as valid as mine because of all these controversies. (But be warned: the popular opinion is not necessarily the correct opinion.)

And apparently, judging by this objective standard earns me the description of being arrogant. Apparently, having pride in surpassing this standard in a year that objectively neither gave an inch nor taken any qualifies as sheer hubris (I also had to look this word up.) Then, a lynch mob from a highly respected university that may not have been benefited (or aggrieved) by this lowering of standards comes for me. (Don't worry, I have something up my sleeve just in case they actually do.) You may be creating your own ghosts or just trying to pick a fight, you know.

Objectivity is precisely the point in the bar exams. The people involved in the bar admission process are not supposed to know the examinees personally. And fortunately (or unfortunately, as this highly-renowned professor seems to put it), I am not a bar examiner and then knew who precisely whose test I was correcting. If I did, the way I have seen them in class or in court or they way I knew them personally will surely influence me in grading their test booklets.

And as far as I know, that's one of the reasons why law professors, even though coming from highly-respected schools and with considerable legal stature, cannot become bar examiners unless they have ceased being professors for some time before a given bar exam. The reaction of this highly-renowned law professor with considerable legal stature to this puny unknown lawyer's opinion betrays his objectivity. Good thing he was not the bar examiner when I took my bar. Good thing he will not be an examiner until he has detached himself from his students.

Subjectivity is a good thing if you're benefited by it. It rears its ugly head when you're prejudiced by it. Objectivity in the standards is therefore the only fair and just way to go about the admission process. As lawyers, we have an obligation more to the profession itself and to the admission process than to any particular batch of examinees/students that we have seen in court on in class, or have known personally. As lawyers, our duty is to preserve the integrity of the admission process, not to any particular batch of examinees.

It is my honest opinion that this objective standard should be respected at all costs. The other variables extraneous to this standard could have been quietly factored in when the examiners gave their grades. This should have also been done by prior, quiet instruction to the examiners by the Supreme Court and not as an afterthought when the passing rate has already been determined, because, as somebody has argued:

The examiners, during the checking of bar booklets, have the mindset that the dq [disqualification] mark is 50. [W]hen the examiner gives lower than 50, say 49, 48, etc, he gives it with a mindset that the examinee is not really qualified to be a lawyer.

Or the Supreme Court could have quietly adjusted the grades to factor in these variables before giving out the results and not simply lower these objective standards. In this way, the integrity of a particular bar exam remains intact.

But this is just the suggestion of this unknown lawyer. People with considerable legal stature may have other ideas on how to maintain the integrity of the bar exams.

If future policies will scrap this objective standard altogether, why have a bar examination at all? Why not leave the decision of acceptance to the bar to highly respected professors with considerable legal stature and/or to the highly respected law schools they teach in because they have seen these applicants in class or in court and know them personally to be potentially good lawyers?

Ultimately, I am sticking to my original premise: Any bar exams (and not the bar examinees, I like to clarify) should be free from tarnish or even the hint (or suspicion) of such tarnish.

Is the 2007 Bar tarnished?

All I know is It cannot be tarnished by a mere controversial, unpopular and withdrawn blog entry of some unknown lawyer. Or gets untarnished by a mere popular reply to such a controversial blog entry by a supposedly better lawyer/respected law professor with considerable legal stature.

It gets tarnished (or untarnished) all by itself.

I like to end with a question I picked up over the heated discussions of this issue:

Would the lowering of the percentage change the truth that that there were only 281 examinees who passed the 75 mark?

And I will not write anything further on this topic.

(And if you have feasted your eyes on my picture, as I have been supposedly exposed, yes, I admit my boobs are fake. Had them done two years ago. Just to be clear, that's a joke.)

Now back to regular boring programming.

3 Objection(s):

At 2:55 AM, Blogger raj said...


I also said in my blog that the manner of handling the examinations had made it questionable. Conditionally stated as to the facts on who knew WHEN and WHAT when they decided to amend the rules.

I said that it had the effect of robbing the examinees of a once-in-a-lifetime chance for self-validation and confirmation.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Lawstude said...

well said attorney. opinion is personal.

my best friend (a school bet) failed to pass the 2007 bar and what hurt him most is knowing that he did not even reach the average grade of 70%.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger joseph Reylan B. Viray said...

I totally agree with you Atty...

You are really very right.

I am AtienzaSon, the guy who posted some of the arguments you quoted.


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