A lot of my readers are curious about law school life. I think some are even considering going to law school, and that’s really good! Although I sometimes complain about law school in twitter and instagram, I won’t deny how awesome it is to be able to go to law school. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s the kind of difficulty that will make you want to trudge on. It’s a welcomed challenge. I liked being challenged because it pushes me to do better. I admit that if I am not challenged, I tend to just relax. I’m not saying that being relaxed is a bad thing, but I just like to see what more I can do, what my limits are.
Since I’m studying in San Beda, I’ll give you an overview of what happens in my day as a law student. I think this will be better as a vlog, but I am really hopeless when it comes to editing videos. But maybe in the future, who knows?
In the first year, first semester in San Beda, the subjects are Statutory Construction, Constitutional Law I, Persons and Family Relations, Legal Research and Writing, Criminal Law I, and Sem. Classes usually start at 4:30pm and can last up until 9:30pm. It really depends on your subjects for the day. When I was in my first sem, my load was pretty light because I usually have only 1 subject a day, so that was really nice. The sad thing was that I had classes on Saturdays, so I barely went home because I’d seriously rather sleep on a Sunday than to travel to Bulacan.
My day usually goes like this:
6:15 am – wake up
6:30 am -eat light breakfast (just so I have something in my stomach because I can’t study when I’m hungry)
7:00 am – do my writing duties (if I’m on the mood, otherwise I just watch whatever series I want)
9:00 am – start reading the assigned chapters (usually, they’re like 50 pages and up. Good thing I’m a fast reader, so this wasn’t a big problem for me. But I do read the topics twice because I don’t like taking chances. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing the answer when the professor asks me)
12:00 noon – lunch (and do stuff other than studying. My mind can’t study for more than 3 hours. I get dizzy)
1:30 pm – start reading cases if there are any (I’ll check beforehand if the cases are long. If they are only like 5-10 pages, I’ll read them a few hours before class. If they’re long, I’ll read them the night before)
3:30 pm – start preparing for class
4:00 pm -eat something because sometimes, class ends up until 9 pm, and I don’t want to be hungry during recitations
4:30 pm – prepare for death
9:30 pm – go home and sleep (I don’t try to study after class because my mind’s still traumatized from the recitation)
This is my usual schedule. Although I try to follow this every day, it really depends on the kind of subject I’m supposed to study. For example, Criminal Law I is a very demanding subject. Back during my first sem in first year, my CrimLaw I was on Friday and Saturday, but I’d start studying on Monday because it’s that demanding! It was so stressful because my professor was notorious for failing a lot of students, and I didn’t want to be a part of that statistic. So I try to study as early as possible because if I get asked about a case, I wanted to be able to recite the facts, issues, and ruling. Sometimes, a professor will ask you what is the color of the perpetrator’s t-shirt, what kind of weapon was used, what kind of vehicle was used, was the victim stabbed on the right or left palm, were there any justifying circumstances, were there any accomplices—you know, fun things. You can never be too prepared because you’ll never know what you’re going to be asked. One time, when I was reciting, I forgot the names of the people involved in a case that when I was reciting, I was like, “Someone stabbed someone with a weapon.” Fun times, you know? My professor mocked me because I couldn’t produce a single name.
If you’re curious about what happens in a typical law school class, it’s usually just students praying for their lives. Seriously. I always, always pray that if I ever get called, I hope it’s something I studied for. Trust me, it’s not a pleasant feeling when you know you studied so hard but somehow, ended up not being able to recite. It’s just so horrible. Anyway, professors have index cards and sometimes, they shuffle, sometimes they do not. If you’re lucky enough to get called, you have to stand up and answer the question. A useful tip I can give is that never answer more than what you’re being asked. Seriously. Just give the answer to the question because if you try to be a smartass and give an answer to a question that wasn’t asked, it might open a black hole. The professor will ask you questions about subjects you haven’t even taken yet! And if you can’t answer the question, the person called next has to suffer. So, just don’t, okay? Stick to the question.
If you’re curious about the type of exam, it’s usually the essay type. The usual number of questions is 10, but some professors will give 17 (I almost cried when I saw that there were 17 questions with sub-questions! I mean, how would I even finish that in an hour and a half?! Crazy, but I did finish! I guess fear is a very compelling factor.) Per number, there will be a situation and your task is to determine the violation (if there is any) and the applicable law. I put a sample question below:
Tonito, an 8-year-old boy, was watching a free concert at the Luneta Park with his father Tony. The child stood on a chair to be able to see the performers on the stage. Juanito, a 10-year-old boy, who was also watching the concert, could not see much of the performance on the stage because Tonito was blocking his line of sight by standing on the chair. Using his elbow, Juanito strongly shoved Tonito to get a good view of the stage. The shove caused Tonito to fall to the ground. Seeing this, Tony struck Juanito on the head with his hand and caused the boy to fall and to hit his head on a chair. Tony also wanted to strangle Juanito but the latter’s aunt prevented him from doing so. Juanito sustained a lacerated wound on the head that required medical attention for 10 days.
Tony was charged with child abuse in violation of Sec. 10(a), in relation to Sec. 3(b)(2), of R.A. No. 7610 (Child Abuse Law) for allegedly doing an “act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being.” In his defense, Tony contended that he had no intention to maltreat Juanito, much less to degrade his intrinsic worth and dignity as a human being.
(a) Distinguish crimes mala in se from crimes mala prohibita. (3%)
(b) Was Tony criminally liable for child abuse under R.A. No. 7610? Explain your answer. (3%)
I tried to look for my midterm booklet in CrimLaw, but I couldn’t find it (maybe because I buried it already? My grade was so devastating, but I pulled through haha lol). Anyhow, the question above was the same type of question you’ll encounter if you ever try to go to law school. You have to analyze the problem, and give your legal basis. You really have to know the law because without legal basis, you won’t get a point.
In connection with this, you have to have a good command of the English language. Every recitation is conducted using the English language, so you better be comfortable to recite in English. Don’t worry if you’re stuttering because trust me, it gets better in time. Personally, you won’t hear me talking in English during my day to day conversations because it’s just not who I am as a person (lol), but during recitations, I believe that I can handle myself well (because I don’t have much choice, really). You also have to master writing in English well because if you can’t communicate your thoughts well, you won’t get points in your exams. You don’t have to use big words; just write enough to explain your answer. Professors don’t like reading long answers if it’s obvious that you don’t know what you’re talking about; short and sweet, that’s the technique to get full points in your exam.
So, that’s basically it. Recitations and exams are the biggest challenges you’ll face if you’re in law school. There’s really no secret but to study hard and study smart. Treat yourself once in a while because it really gets the best of you sometimes. Also, learn to forgive yourself if you get a bad recitation because you can’t really know everything. Just promise you’ll do better next time…
And most importantly, enjoy the journey. Not everyone’s privileged enough to be able to go to law school, so if you’re in one, enjoy every second and learn as much as you can.
I hope I was of help to those who are interested! If you have questions, just drop a comment and I’ll get back to you.