Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Raymond Joseph Javier of Branch 52 granted the joint motion for reconsideration filed by the 32 law students of the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos, Bacolod City on their application for a Level 1 Certification for Clinical Legal Education Program (CLEP), in a summary hearing Friday, in the presence of the said applicants, a press release from UNO-R said.
Javier, in his order dated November 4, stated, “After the summary hearing of the joint motion for reconsideration filed by the applicants, the Court hereby reconsiders the order dated October 12, 2022, which dismissed their application for Level 1 Certification as Law Student Practitioners (LSPs). The October 12, 2022 order is hereby recalled and set aside. The application for a Level 1 Certification is hereby granted. Their oath-taking ceremony is set for Judgment Day on November 18, at 2 p.m. at the Hall of Justice lobby.”
The said law students were about to earn a Degree of Juris Doctor at UNO-R School of Law, and before they graduate, need to undergo a Clinical Legal Education Program (CLEP) to enhance their learning opportunities by inculcating in them the value of legal professional social responsibility.
UNO-R School of Law Dean Dodie Opinion Turla, who is also the University Legal Counsel, along with some university law professors who served as supervising lawyers, namely Norman Andrei Saril, Christine Nessia-Bugador, Erwin Dato-on Cabarles and Theodora Gardose represented the concerned law students during the summary hearing.
Judge Fernand Castro of the RTC Bacolod City Branch 41 was also present during the hearing.
While outside the court room, prior to the summary hearing, Dean Turla opined that he made representations with the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) and that he was informed about a complaint by a law school against a judge who required its law dean to explain something in connection with the application of its students for a level 1 certification under the CLEP, to which the CLEP Oversight Committee already clarified that judges do not have such power under the Rules.
Nevertheless, he attended the summary hearing to show his support to the student applicants.
Javier said that the CLEP program is a noble idea of the Supreme Court that aims to breed future lawyers to become law practice-ready.
This is a nice program of the Supreme Court which will allow law students to practice at the early stage of their law studies. He expressed that he has a genuine intention for UNO-R law students to experience the practice of law and hope that they will love it.
“I presumed that they will study more so that they can successfully hurdle the bar exam next year. Why not produce bar placers next year? There are a lot of programs in the Justice Zone that they could have attended that include seminars,” he said.
Turla said that the CLEP program was supposed to be in place in 2019 but was not materialized. When he assumed the deanship a year ago, he pursued its integration with its Practice Courts 1 and 2 under the old curriculum by seeking the approval of the Legal Education Board (LEB), so that UNO-R graduates starting from batch 2023 will be able to take the bar examinations, as CLEP is a requirement for bar takers in 2023 and onwards.
“This law student practice for students under the CLEP is currently being incorporated into the school’s Practice Court 1 and 2 under our old curriculum. But under the revised model law curriculum which our law school implemented during the Academic Year 2021-2022, CLEP is a stand-alone course of the UNO-R School of Law and the same is offered to 3rd Year law students”, he added.
Saril said that the CLEP program will help immerse UNO-R law students in the practice of law.
Bugador said that they have been mentoring these concerned students as their professors and will continue to do so until they become lawyers.
The statement added that the hearing ended well, and the UNO-R School of Law and the students concerned were happy with the outcome of the summary hearing.
They extended their gratitude to Judge Javier and to Dean Turla and their professors.*