The best test of a good lawyer

Theodore Te, Ted to many, is a human rights lawyer and advocate, law educator, font geek and comic book fan, occasional movie and music reviewer, a life-long Boston Celtics fan and a loud opponent of the death penalty, violations of human rights, government abuse, and social injustice. Deep Dive on Rappler is his attempt at probing into issues of law and rights, politics and governance (and occasionally entertainment and sports) beyond the headlines, the sound bites, the spin, and the buzz.

According to  Atty. Ted, the best test of a good lawyer isn’t the bar exams, it is being able to live up to every word of the oath that is taken, every day. To read the full version of his opinion, please visit

WHAT IS THE BEST TEST OF A GOOD LAWYER? This is the question answered by Atty. Ted in the following piece he wrote on Rappler.

At bottom, the bar examinations are still just a licensure exam; for law students, a necessary hazard to overcome on their way to a career in the legal profession. The bar exams should be, and are, no different from the medical, engineering, accountancy licensure examinations; yet, the bar is the only examination that enjoys prominent media coverage, with the results being highly-anticipated and flashed live from a big screen at the Supreme Court, with the top 10 most successful examinees being interviewed live and featured prominently.

So, what’s the big deal about the bar exams?

For law schools, it is a great marketing tool if their graduates place in the top 10 or have a high institutional passing percentage. It is great bragging rights for one year, until short-term memory fades, or until the next bar examinations start.
For law students who pass, it is a big deal because it ends their waiting period – after 8 (or more) years of formal education with 4 (possibly more) years of undergraduate education and 4 (possibly more) years of law school – before they can officially join the legal profession. It is the second to the last gate before the final door to legal practice is opened – the taking of the oath.

For law students who fail, it may be the signal that life must go on – perhaps a life not in the law, for, certainly, there is more to life than law or becoming a lawyer.

I wish I could say that the bar examinations are a complete measure of legal competence, character, or even potential. But it is very difficult to say that because they are, at best, simply a measure of a particular year’s test takers, nothing more.

The best test of a good lawyer isn’t the bar exams, it is being able to live up to every word of the oath that is taken, every day.

Last year, Atty. Ted returned to the academe after working in the Supreme Court as the High Court's spokesperson. Te tendered his courtesy resignation from his position on August 29. In his letter of resignation, he said: "I am returning to full-time academic life, which I had put on hold starting 2013 to be able to serve the judiciary and the Supreme Court."

SOURCES: Atty. Theodore Te (2018). [OPINION | Deep Dive] What's the big deal about the bar exams?. Published 9:32 PM, November 21, 2018 Updated 9:32 PM, November 21, 2018.

Kristine Joy Patag (2018). SC spokesman Te to go back to teaching. September 3, 2018 - 11:40am.