“Gentlemen, please look at the person on your right and the one on your left. By the end of the year, one of you will be gone.”

This is a favorite quote of the late Dean Hildegardo F. Iñigo, apparently from a Dean of the Harvard Law School in the years of yore, that he repeated, year in and year out, at every orientation for the freshmen of the Ateneo de Davao University College of Law. He was not trying to scare the “new blood”, he was, more or less, stating a statistical fact.

When I entered law school, there were only two (2) freshman sections, each with around forty (40) students, so a total of around eighty (80) students. As far as I remember, only fourteen (14) of us finished our law course in four (4) years and twelve (12) of the fourteen (14) became lawyers. Of course, some of those who were delayed a bit still became members of the Philippine bar.

Nowadays, we usually have four or five sections in first year but the statistics are pretty much the same.

So much so, that it is no longer normal to graduate in four years and the average is around five to six years while most will not make it at all.

The point is that studying law is stressful, grueling and very unforgiving. As Dean Iñigo was also fond of saying, you need the THREE “L’s” to be successful, Law, Language and Logic. The LAW, you are supposed to learn in law school, LANGUAGE, you should have learned in elementary and high school but LOGIC, it’s either you have it or you don’t.

Assuming that you have the basic mental aptitude necessary, how will you successfully survive law school?

I half-jokingly tell my students that the secret to the study of law is ASS POWER which translates to how long you can sit on your ass to go through the mountains of reading materials that you will be required to read. Just recently, a friend from high school told me that her son had just enrolled and asked me what advice I could […]

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