Topnotchers no more? Philippine Chief Justice calls for “Pass-or-Fail” approach for the bar exam

In every after bar examination in the Philippines, the public and the examinees themselves highly anticipate for the names of the hopeful lawyers who will make the cut in getting their official license to practice law.

Traditionally, what adds to the people’s excitement during the releasing of the bar exam results is the reveal of the barristers who got the highest scores in the bar exam or known as the “topnotchers”.

The prestige of getting the Top 10 or 20 spot in the bar examination is an added pie to the resume of the topnotchers and a reputational glory for the schools where the topnotchers are coming from.

However, this traditional practice is probably about to change soon.

On Wednesday, July 31, Marvic Leonen, Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court (SC) , who is also the chairman for the upcoming bar examination this November 2019 is calling for a new direction in uncovering the bar exam results.

According to a report from Rappler, Leonen will propose to the SC enbanc to modify the Philippine bar examination approach, particularly in the releasing of bar passers.

The current practice in the Philippines is that the SC will release the official names of the successful examinees while a separate ranked results will also reveal the Top 10 or Top 20 barristers with the highest scores.

What Leonen wants this time is that this old system be taken out of the context and instead use the pass-or-fail-only system.

What is pass-or-fail system?

“To make it possible, I think that the Court should now come to a process of rethinking the process of admission to the bar…First, that we introduce a simple pass or fail system,” said Leonen during the first-ever Legal Education Summit on Wednesday.

In pass-or-fail system, the bar passers will no longer be revealed with their individual grades and the list of topnotchers will be no longer be available. Instead, theexaminees will only know whether they pass or fail.

This proposal of Leonen elicited various reactions from law schools, lawyers, law students and public in general. For some, this appears to be a welcome development as it would potentially lessen the exaggerated competition among Philippine law schools as to which school could release the most topnotchers. It will also encourage barristers to work together in making sure that they have studied and learned well every aspects of the law, without thinking of who gets the highest and lowest score come bar exam.

On the contrary, some fear that this might demotivate law students to study rigidly as whether they get the top or not, they could gain no recognition. This would also take away the suppose prestige a law school can get once a topnotcher comes from their school.

How about you, what are your thoughts about Justice Leonen’s proposal?

-I hope this blog can help and inspire my readers regardless of where they are from or whatever they do in life!

For Life and Law is also open to any article contribution which will potentially inspire others-

Source: Rappler

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