Press Release
April 27, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 292:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Message for the 2017 Bar Exam Passers


Congratulations to all the men and women who successfully passed the 2017 Bar Exams!

Congratulations, too, to your families, friends and loved ones who helped see you through the trying years of law school, the even more stressful months of preparing for the Bar Exams, and the unceasingly nerve-wracking wait for the results to come out. I welcome you all to the legal profession.

You will discover that there are many fields of practice and ways to practice our profession, but I think somewhere along the way you will also find that some "ways" are more honorable than others.

It goes without saying, defining your "success" as a lawyer will be a lot different from assessing your success as law students. There will no longer be professors who will mark your answers as right or wrong, and who will, at the end of the semester, give you grades that you will have to live with, whether you think it's fair or not.

Sure, early on in your career you'll have a boss or a mentor who will want you to learn and do things their way, but, at the end of the day, a lot of it will be based on your own self-assessment--you can no longer just accept and "live with" what other people say or what they tell you to do.

You are your own persons now in many ways. And you, as lawyers, will always have a choice. Doing or saying nothing is also a choice. The point is, you will have to make them on your own, and you will have to take responsibility for them. You can listen to others--in fact, you should listen, because listening is a valuable skill for a lawyer and for any human being, for that matter, to harness and practice--but, at the end of the day, the choice is yours.

You can choose to measure your success based on a win-loss record; by the bottomline on your bank account; how fast and how far you climb the ladder of success; how much influence you have; how many powerful people are in your contact list.

I hope you won't though, because the law is not a game--and there are higher principles at stake than those selfish and fleeting things.

For years, you have looked forward to "the future" when you can finally call yourselves full-fledged lawyers. That future is now. If you hold on to the ethics and dignity of our profession, I know you'll be alright.

And if you will indulge me for a little while longer, I would like to share the three things you might want to keep in mind:

The first is EXCELLENCE: perform your role as an officer of the court with competence, diligence and, always, to the best of your ability. That is your gift to your client and to your profession.

The second is HONOR: do everything that you do with honor. You are never just "Attorney so-and-so"--you are someone's son or daughter, and always you will represent this brotherhood and sisterhood called "the legal profession". Things that you do, inevitably, reflects on others, including everyone who has nurtured you, raised you, taught you, supported you and made this moment possible. Honor is your gift to them.

Lastly, is INTEGRITY. People might think it means the same thing as honor, but I think they are two different things. Honor is something others can see; integrity is something others might sense, might suspect, but, ultimately, it is something very personal to you. The full story behind some decisions and actions are known only to you; it happens in your heart and in your mind. It's between you, yourself and God. The question you ask yourself is, without making excuses to God or lying to yourself, can you honestly say that your integrity is intact? To be able to answer "yes" is your gift to yourself.

Don't get hung up on the letters "A-T-T-Y". If anything, be hung up on the potential to do good that being a lawyer presents to you.

Congratulations once again! God bless the legal profession!

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