How to become a lawyer in the Philippines

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Congratulations on wanting to become a lawyer! At this point in time, a lot of people, mostly your family and relatives, will be elated learning that someone in your family will soon become a lawyer. Take that as an inspiration not an added pressure.

DISCLAIMER: I am afraid to shatter the illusion but I admit that the title is not at all absolute. Doing all the following steps doesn’t guarantee that you will someday become a lawyer because the road to the elusive yet alluring “ATTORNEY” is neither an easy ride nor a walk in the park. But then again, with prayer and determination, I believe nothing is impossible. So read on.

Through the years, a lot of younger people have been asking me tips and tools on how to become a lawyer. They wanted to know what pre-law course they should get, what good books to read, how long it takes, etc. And if you are here because you are asking the same questions, I might be able to help you a bit. But if not, you can leave comments below and I will try to answer them.

Basically and legally speaking, the requirements for one to be admitted to the bar or for one to become a lawyer in the Philippines are listed in Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. You can google that but I will try to simplify it for you.

Rule 138 Section 6 terms it as “Pre-law”. However, because of that, some are misled by the idea that one must complete a law-related course in order to enter law school. There is no truth to that. The Rule simply requires that you must pursue and satisfactorily complete in an authorized and recognized university or college a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Science provided that the said course includes as fields of concentration the following subjects: political science, logic, english, spanish, history and economics. 

To give you a better idea, I graduated Bachelor of Science in Nursing. And oh boy, I was not alone from the Nursing Department. If I remember it right, we were 7-8 nurses in a room filled with more or less 25 law students. Not yet surprised? I also had a number of classmates who are graduates of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management. They are all lawyers now. So see. It really doesn’t matter whether or not your undergraduate course is related to law. You will all start on the same ground. In fact, having a course not related to law is advantageous because everything will be new to you. It will be more exciting and you will be more curious than the others who took up Political Science or Legal Studies. You can read the post I wrote about the “best” pre-law course here.

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But note that your Bachelor’s degree should include the specific number of units in the subjects I mentioned earlier as prescribed by your chosen law school. For example, Saint Louis University School of Law (Baguio) prescribes eighteen (18) units of English subjects. Because my undergraduate course only had twelve (12) units English subjects, I enrolled additional six (6) units before starting my second year first semester. Other law schools will allow you to start law school without completing the required subjects yet provided that you finish them within a specified school year.  

TIP: While a Bachelor’s degree is a must, it is also important to be armed with skills like reading fast (must include understanding what you’re reading) and writing well (must include writing LEGIBLY). These skills will not only save you in law school but will also help you pass the bar. I swear. So as early as now, you might as well lessen your time scrolling your Facebook feed and start reading good books.

2. Take the law school’s entrance or admission test.

Some law schools require entrance or admission tests for the purpose of measuring a person’s aptitude. The test depends on every law school but usually, it is akin to an IQ test. The entrance examination I had was like a test on English grammar and construction, a little bit of logic, and some essay questions that included “Why do you want to become a lawyer?” It sounds cliché’, right? But yeah. You just need to pass that and you are good to go!

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NOTE: In 2016, the Legal Education Board (LEB) released a memo requiring a mandatory aptitude test for admission in all law schools. It was called Philippine Law School Admission Test (PhiLSAT). It is a standard test that measures one’s academic potential in the following subjects: Communications and Language Proficiency, Critical Thinking, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. However, because of violation of some constitutional rights, the Supreme Court in December 2019 finally stopped the administration of PhilSAT. While it is no longer a requirement, the Supreme Court said that “Through time and a better cooperation between the LEB and the law schools, a standardized and acceptable law admission examinations may be configured…” There. So in the future, PhiLSAT may happen again. 

Aside from the entrance or admission test, other law schools also conduct interviews. Prepare like you are applying for a job. Practice answering common questions like “Why did you choose this law school?”, “What is your favorite book?”, and of course, the million-dollar question, “Why do you want to become a Lawyer?”

3. Enrol in your chosen law school. Of course, you need to submit documentary requirements.

This is basic but I will still run down the usual documents so that you can prepare in advance. 

  1. Application Form
  2. Certificate of Good Moral Character
  3. Transcript of Records
  4. Certificate of Graduation
  5. ID pictures
  6. Photocopy of PSA birth certificate
  7. Payment of application fee

4. Finish Juris Doctor

Do not be confused when you see your enrolment forms and the course printed there is Juris Doctor and not Bachelor of Laws. Juris Doctor was previously called Bachelor of Laws (LLB). In 2018, the LEB adopted “Juris Doctor” as the new term for the degree conferred upon graduates of the basic law degree in the Philippines. It is now equivalent to a doctoral degree but only for the purposes of appointment/employment, ranking, and compensation.

Anyway, back to finishing your JD. If you are determined, I know you can finish it in four (4) years straight. But if you will ask me if JD is difficult, I won’t lie because it is VERY difficult. Law school will never be the same as your undergraduate course. It may happen that the most challenging semester will be your First Year, First Semester. You get that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing anything yet especially if you don’t know anyone yet. 

I remember on our first day of class, our teachers casually gave us a list of cases and told us to “digest” them. I was so confused. What did he mean of digesting the cases?? Not knowing what to do, I just haphazardly jotted down all the titles of cases the teacher mentioned, went home and googled “Case Digest”. I took notes and did my own. From then on, I thought I was doing just great but no. Every day, I read all night until dawn but I woke up at lunch to start reading again. That was my life. There were times when I got lazy, failed some quizzes, and botched some recitations. If that happens to you, it’s alright. You just have to try again. Do not quit even if you can’t seem to get past it. Practice a routine. Stay fit and healthy. Maintain good friends. Have a break when you are tired. Do not procrastinate. Remember, only those with strong minds and brave hearts conquer law school.

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If you want some more tips, I wrote this after my three (3) weeks in law school.

5. Enrol in a Review Center or DIY.

After graduation, you have roughly six (6) months to review for the dreaded bar examinations. If you have the discipline to study on your own then no one is stopping you. But if you are like me who needs to be dragged from the bed, then you should enrol in a review center in order to have an organized study schedule. Although I did not attend all my review classes, I can say that I was committed to my own schedule and studied real hard.

The point is that passing the bar doesn’t depend on whether or not you self-studied or reviewed in a center. It all boils down to your preparation since you started law school. So take this advice. Now that you are just starting, take notes diligently. Make an outline of all the topics and cases in your own notebooks. You will use those notes during the review period because nothing beats your own handwritten notes.

6. Take the Bar Examinations and pass it

The bar examinations is given once a year in the four (4) Sundays of November. It is divided in eight (8) subjects with two (2) subjects given per Sunday, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.  To pass the bar, you have to garner a rate of 75%. But this can be lowered depending on the discretion of the Supreme Court. Your performance in the 8 bar subjects will be graded individually. All your grades in all subjects will be averaged in the following proportion: Civil Law- 15%, Labor Law and Social Legislation- 10%, Mercantile Law- 15%, Criminal Law- 10%, Political and International Law- 15%, Taxation- 10%, Remedial Law- 20%, and lastly, Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises- 5%. I saw the need of mentioning the percentages so that you know what subject to focus on without underestimating the other subjects.

Bar bulletins are regularly issued by the Supreme Court for every bar examinations for your guidance. There are some rules that maybe changed by the Chairman of the Bar Examinations so if your time comes, visiting the Supreme Court website should be a habit.

I forgot to inform you that the bar examination results is another five-month waiting period.

7. Take your oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys!

After passing the bar, you have to attend two (2) ceremonial and picture-worthy events that will make you officially a lawyer. First is the Oath Taking before the Supreme Court Justices. And the other is signing in the Roll of Attorneys before the Office of the Bar Confidant. These two events don’t happen on the same day but on different days. At this point, you are now a full-fledged lawyer. Another journey begins which includes paying your annual membership fee with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, attending the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), and of course, paying your taxes with the government. 😀

With all that has been said, I would like to remind you that becoming a lawyer is in itself an odyssey of self-discovery. While you already know your dream, you are yet to embark on a new voyage that would define your strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and knowing when to use and ignore them will definitely help you in law school, pass the bar and become an effective lawyer.  So dream on!

40 thoughts on “How to become a lawyer in the Philippines”

  1. Are you a lawyer now or still studying in law school? And aside from that, is International Studies a good pre-law? Thanks.

    1. I am a lawyer now. In my experience, the course in undergrad doesn’t really matter because law school is a different arena. I graduated nursing in undergrad. Some classmates even graduated Social Work, Tourism and Philosophy. We are all lawyers now at first take. For us, law school felt new and exciting compared to those who took courses related to law like political science. They were already familiar with some legal terms. But that really depends on the person. Hehe. International Studies I think is a good pre-law, it will give you a background on the law itself. However, again, in law school, you all start at zero or on a blank page. Note that starting at a zero doesn’t mean you have nothing. It only means that you have more pages to fill. And this is a good thing. Goodluck! 😀

  2. How many years from pre-law course till you become a lawyer that you have to spend? I’m planning to take PolScie as pre law or any other allowed pre-law courses to take just to finish the law this next school year.

    1. Here in the Philippines, an undergraduate course will take about 4 years. After finishing a degree, you can now enrol in a law school. It will take you a minimum of 4 years to finish law depending on your performance.

      Political Science is a good pre-law course but other courses are good as well. Like I have mentioned before, your undergraduate course will not matter once you are in law school because law school is a different arena. Goodluck and fighting!

  3. Mila Marie Lagahit

    Good day, Atty.!

    If it’s alright to ask, what’s your current job right now? Being a lawyer already, what keeps you busy presently since the day that you passed the bar exams? Do you work in the government’s office? Elsewhere? And if it’s fine with you, can you also talk about the things that a full-pledged lawyer does on a daily basis? Like including the possible and usual fields of careers/expertise that they venture after officially becoming one?

    Thank you so much for your insights po!

    1. Good day!

      Thank you for your question.

      Currently, I am in private practice. I am working with a law office here in Baguio City. That is what I have been doing since I passed the bar. I am not with the government.

      Basically, my day is about attending hearings in court, listening to clients, researching, making my pleadings, notarizing documents, and beating the deadlines. I enjoy what I do. That is the most important thing.

      There are a lot of opportunities once you become a lawyer. Government is just one option. You can enter the Public Attorney’s Office or apply for administrative or supervisory positions in some government agencies. You can venture into private practice like I do. You can also teach in colleges or school of laws on the side. If you are looking for what pays better in private practice, you can concentrate on real estate, corporate laws, or lands.

      If you are not sure of what path to take, you can just try one. If it turns out that you don’t like it then leave and try another one. That’s just how life is. Making a choice and sticking to that or you can go exploring other options. At the end of the day, do what makes you happy but stay grounded on your priorities in life.

      Goodluck!

      1. Good day Attorney! San po ba maganda nakakakuha ng scholarship even the average is 80%-85% dahil gusto ko pong mag apply ng scholarship Hindi language po kaya ng magulang Kong. Pag aralin ako. Ng law. I want to study a law thats my dream. Sana matulungan nyo po ako

        1. Lucille Arianne

          Good day future lawyer!

          Thank you for your comment. Apparently, there are only few schools that offer scholarships for Bachelor of Laws or JD. I think some schools like De La Salle and UP have scholarships but I am not really sure. But do not be sad. There are other ways how you can finish law school. There are big private companies that offer scholarships but not specifically for law school. Why not write them and tell them how passionate you are in achieving your dream of becoming a lawyer. They might give you a chance! Also, ask other friends and relatives if they can sponsor you. I believe that if you show them your potential and grit, they will definitely help you. But know that beggars cannot be choosers. If you really want this desperately, be humble and ask for help. Also, pray hard. God will surely be there for you in every step of the journey.

          Regards!

          1. Hi good day Attorney 😊!

            I want to ask if what name of private company that offers a scholarship for law. I have no connection to ask some people. My relative doesn’t know how to caught or contact how to apply scholarship. Attorney if it is bohered to you I may ask for help. I do anything to have a scholarship I am desperately want a scholarship because my family didn’t afford my college fees. That’s why I ask for help.

            Thank you, and keepsafe Attorney 😊.

  4. Very informative Atty., can I ask for your permission if I can use these infos for a powerpoint presentation I am making titled “Interested to become a lawyer?”. Thanks and be well!

      1. Atty., How much money do you have spend in Law School? And is there any scholarships I can apply? I want to be a Lawyer but my Family isn’t that financially stable to afford it, I don’t think I’d be able to make it without scholarships.

        1. Lucille Arianne

          Good day, future lawyer!

          Thank you for your comment. I am happy that you are interested in becoming a lawyer. I want you to know that nothing should hold you back in achieving your dream. If you really want this, sabi nga nila, kung gusto, maraming paraan.

          Compared to other courses like Medicine, law school is way cheaper. During our time, our tuition fee range from 25k-35k per semester. I graduated from a school in Baguio City. Tuition fees in Manila will probably be higher. Aside from the tuition fees, you will also spend for your books, boarding house if you will be renting, transportation, and other expenses for your daily living. Ask for help from other family members, friends or relatives and other Good Samaritans. Start one step at a time. Complete your requirements for enrollment, save up at least for the down payment, then slowly figure out how to make ends meet for your next tuition fee payment. Kaya mo yan! Dasal palagi! Wag kang mawalan ng pag-asa. Darating din yan. Oo, mahihirapan ka pero your hardships will be worth it.

          Regards,

          Lucille Arianne

  5. Hello Atty. !
    I don’t know you personally but I became your fan. Your one of a good inspiration.
    I’m a graduate of BS Agriculture major in Plant Pathology. Way back then, I had Political Science subject. In my first attempt, I got 5.0 grade. I’m actually not excellent in memorization. And for reading long statement, I still need to repeat it all over again in order to comprehend it right. I’m not excellent in writing, too. I was really disappointed knowing that I was a government scholar and it’s the only subject that I failed. I thought that perhaps my efforts weren’t good enough.
    In my second attempt, I was challenged and at the same time wanted to prove something. I expected that I’ll only got 2.0 – 3.0 but to my surprise, I got 1.0 grade. I could say that I made it because I doubled up my efforts. You think I got it so high because I took it twice?
    Currently, our family have some property problems. And it seemed that we were neglected by the officials to defend our rights. And so, I want to become a lawyer. I’m also encourage because our municipality don’t have one. It took up several miles to have one. I think it’s an overwhelming too If you could be that someone to extend help by defending those who have socioeconomically disadvantaged. Being straightforward, is it impossible for me to become a lawyer? I’m open to all of your response.

    Thank you for your time, Atty.

    1. Lucille Arianne

      Good day, future lawyer!

      Thank you for your comment. What you shared is very personal. Thank you for sharing your story. 😀

      It is NEVER impossible for you to become a lawyer. And you passed that Political Subject not because you took it twice but because you deserved to pass. Remember that grades should not define who you are and how intelligent you can be. How you performed academically should not be measured by your memorization or writing skills. Every person is born with incredible and different variety of talents and strengths. I know you have the ability to surpass the challenges of law school by using your unique talents and strengths and if you will have the determination to realize your dream.

      The very first thing that that you should do is to be confident. But, it’s okay to doubt yourself sometimes because we are only human but then a real confident person picks himself up, learns from it then moves on. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Congratulate yourself for passing your political science subject. In fact, I have a lot of classmates who failed law subjects many times and yet they passed the bar at first take. be inspired by that. You can accomplish so much if you put your mind to it.

      Also, be inspired by the reasons why you want to become a lawyer. You said you wanted to become one because you want to defend your family and help those disadvantaged in the community. Do not forget those reasons. It will guide you through law school especially during those times when you feel like giving up. Pray hard. God will always be there and will always lead you.

      Regards,

      Lucille Arianne

      1. Kenneth L. Beñanil

        Good day, atty!

        Can you please po recommend a good books to read? Na medyo or related talaga sa law.

        Thank you po! God bless.

        1. Lucille Arianne

          Hello, future lawyer!

          Because it is still early, I will not recommend for you to read law-related books like the Civil Code or the Revised Penal Code. As long as you are reading, you can read whatever book you want. But if you really want books that are law-inspired, fiction or novels by John Grisham, Jodi Picoult are great books. Classic novels are also great books.

          Goodluck!

      2. Marielle Sajulga

        Hi po Atty!

        I just want to ask po if I can become any type of lawyer that I want after taking the oath? For example, I want to become a corporate lawyer, are there things I must consider or steps I must take aside from what I’ve read here in order to be one? Thank you po and God bless.

        1. Lucille Arianne

          Hello, future lawyer!

          Yes, you can become any type of lawyer after taking your oath. You just need to build your network in the legal profession and choose the related cases you want to take. If that is corporate, then you might need to apply with corporations in order to familiarize yourself with corporate practice.

          Goodluck!

          1. Hi po Attorney!

            Question po, is it okay if I’ll take Legal Management as pre-law in college? I’m still shs this year but planning is a must so nagdedecide na po ako. I want to be a Trial Attorney po kasi and I’ve been searching pre-law courses. Thank you Atty!

  6. Raissen Serrano

    Good Morning Atty.Arriane
    I have a question po?
    yung P.U.P po ba is meron po ba College of Law and libre po ba siya?
    aspiring lawyer po ako nangngarap po hihihih thanks po

    1. Lucille Arianne

      Hello, future lawyer!

      I’am sorry but I am not a graduate of PUP. I am not really familiar with their college of law. You can probably check their website.

      Goodluck!

  7. Good day, Atty!

    I am inspired by you and thank you for sharing your tips and experiences regarding your journey on becoming an attorney. I really don’t know what I do really want in life, in fact, my mother wants me to become an accountant, but I failed to pass one of my major subject that’s why I had no choice but to shift course and now, I am enrolled in Business Administration major in Financial Management. I am already 2nd year college student, turning 3rd year this next school year.

    I feel so disappointed, and in reality I only enrolled in this given course because I’m still indecisive of what course and profession I do really want to pursue.

    But, I suddenly think on becoming an attorney, or I should say I want to become a Prosecutor someday. I’ve searched requirements and I’m bothered because my current course is not so related in law, but I’m glad that undergraduate course does not matter.

    After I finish this course, I want to pursue law and if you don’t mind, may I ask Atty, if what good books can I read and study as I prepare myself in entering law school?

    Thank you so much, Atty. God bless you!

    1. Lucille Arianne

      Hello, future lawyer!

      Thank you for sharing your story. I took up Nursing as my undergraduate course despite wanting to become a lawyer. I was also confused back then. I didn’t know what to do or choose. I was all over the place. But with determination and self-reflection, I decided to enrol in law school after finishing nursing. I am happy now. My point is, choose what makes you happy. Then stick with it.

      I will not advise you to read law books this early. All you have to do is read whatever books you have now. Newspapers and magazines are good too. As long as you are reading. But if you really want law-related, read classic novels and fiction books like those of John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, etc.

      Goodluck!

    1. Lucille Arianne

      Hello!

      Yes po. Any undergraduate course will do, provided the specific concentration of subjects like English units are satisfied.

      Goodluck!

  8. Hi Atty.

    I’m currently studying HUMSS in SHS and I’m pursuing to be Lawyer one day.
    Can I take Maritime Science and Technology Course before entering Law School proper?
    It doesn’t matter to take different course before entering the Law School, right?
    So being a lawyer takes a long time just like being doctor. Sorry for asking a lot of questions to you hoping to be lawyer one day! 🙂

    1. Lucille Arianne

      Hello, future lawyer!

      You can take any undergraduate course before entering law school. What is important is you satisfy the required units for specific concentration of subjects like English, logic, etc. Maritime Science and Technology is a good course. 🙂

      Indeed, it will not take you overnight to become a lawyer. There will be ups and downs. But if you have the right mind and determination, you will definitely become one!

      Goodluck!

  9. Is there an age limit for entering law school? It was a dream for a long, long time that was held at bay when I took Medicine at the request of my mother. But no matter how I tried, I didn’t want to practice after passing the board exams one take. It was not until I went into counselling that I realized I cannot fulfill the dreams my mother had for herself.
    Now I am entering my senior years and an empty nester, I want to spend the remaining years of my life to pursue my dreams,

    1. Lucille Arianne

      Hello po!

      The old adage, age doesn’t matter, also applies in law school. The only requirement is that you completed an undergraduate course. Ma’am, I strongly believe that it is never too late for one to become a lawyer as long as she still wants it.

      It’s nice that you are still holding on to that dream of becoming a lawyer. Maybe it is about time for you to make that happen. I am not sure if this helps but for the recent years, there were bar takers who are old timers. Compared to them, you are way younger Ma’am. 🙂

      So stop shelving your dream and instead start writing your own book about finally pursuing your dream! The first step is probably the most difficult but once you are on board, you are set to finish it with determination and prayer.

      Goodluck po Ma’am! 🙂

  10. Hello Atty,

    I’m glad I found your article. I’ve been wanting to study law way way back 2016 but life challenges measured me that made it possible for me to set it aside. But now, I am still very passionate and I still feel that “gigil” thinking that I’d be entering a law school. I just have a few questions:

    1. Like yourself, I also finished nursing back in 2010. I also have no course in mind that time and just followed the course that was “on demand” back then. I’ve had a lot of back subjects (Pathophysio), I think I took it for 4 semesters before I finally passed it, would that affect my eligibility in entering law school?

    2. I am a full time working mom of a 2-year old lovely daughter, any tips you could provide on time management?

    Thank you and I hope to hear from you.

    God Bless and keep safe and healthy 🙂

    1. Lucille Arianne

      Hello future lawyer!

      Thank you for reading my blog!

      As to your first question, my answer is No. Failing a subject in nursing will not affect your eligibility in entering law school. Like I said, law school is a different arena. It won’t look back at your failures before. The only important requirement is that you graduated with a college degree. And of course, depends on the law school that you choose, you need to pass their law school entrance exam, if there is one.

      I was a full-time student when I was in law school. That meant that I had time to read for the whole day. But since you are a working mom, creating a study schedule or calendar would be a great help. With the pandemic, law schools have been conducting classes through video conferencing. This kind of online class will work better for you because you do not need to travel to go to school. Instead, you can use that time to read more. I understand that taking care of your child is the priority. Thus, I think you need someone to babysit your child at least during classes. Create a routine and stick to your schedule. But do not forget to take some rest in between. It might be difficult during your first days but you will definitely learn the ropes as you go on. Your determination will get you going! Goodluck!

  11. Good day, Attorney!

    I appreciate your article! I also want to become a lawyer one day but I took Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, in college. Would that qualify me to take the Law School?

  12. Princess Tabotabo

    Hello Atty!
    I just want to ask about this topic. If BS in Nursing is qualified for pre -law course?. I’m in 12th grade this time and I want to pursue law in college someday after I study in BS in Nursing. Is it BS in Nursing is qualified for pre -law course? Atty. I need your help, I don’t know what would be the best course for me I’m too confused for this pre- law courses. I felt that this is so hard to choose what course is fit for me because my first choice before is criminology and now Nursing. My mother said to me that lately that AB in Political science is her choice for me to apply in college why she said that to me? because after in 4 years bachelor degree she want me to proceed in Juris Doctorate valid in 3years. I don’t know if where I go and where is my destiny come. Only God knows what’s the best for me and hoping one day will succeed in this profession to be a lawyer. Atty I need you advice of what course should I take in college so that I have a knowledge.

    Thank you Atty and God bless you!

  13. Hello Atty! Medyo naguguluhan po kasi ako gaano katagal ang law course. Need po ba mag-aral ng ibang course bago makapag-aral sa law school? It means po ba dalawang beses mag-aaral ulit?

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