How much reading do law students do?

Before one takes the bar, she has to go through a half-a-decade-long journey in law school and law schools are NOT at all the nicest places on earth, especially in the Philippines. In this jurisdiction, law school is the first phase of hazing to become a lawyer. The second and last phase is the bar examination.

Law students read every day. Despite all the effort, it is still not uncommon to expect episodes of inability to answer questions from professors and bouts of humiliation. From their first year to their third year, they have to read AT LEAST 45 TEXTBOOKS in eight different bar examination subjects: civil law, commercial law, criminal law, labor law, legal ethics, political law, remedial law and taxation.

In civil law, there are, depending on the school, around 15 subjects: law on agency, civil law jurisprudence, conflict of laws, human relations law, land title and deeds, lease law, obligations and contracts, partnership law, persons law, family law, law on prescription, property law, sales law, succession law, torts and damages and law on trusts.

In commercial law, there are around nine subjects: banking laws, corporation law, insurance law, intellectual property law, negotiable instruments law, mercantile law jurisprudence, securities law, special commercial law and transportation law.

In criminal law, there are at least three subjects: general principles of criminal law (Book 1), crimes under the Revised Penal Code (Book 2) and special penal laws (also called Criminal Law 3).

In labor law, there are at least two (or three, depending on the law school) subjects: labor standards, labor relations and social legislation.

In legal ethics, typically, one book is enough but ethics professors normally assigned hundreds of administrative cases against lawyers and judges for students to read.

In political law, there are six or seven textbooks needed for the same or smaller number of subjects: administrative law, law on public officers and local government, constitutional law, election law, constitutional jurisprudence, political law (structure of government) and public international law.In remedial law, there are at least five or six subjects: civil procedure, criminal procedure, evidence, remedial law jurisprudence and special proceedings.

In tax law, which has been considered as the most difficult subject in any bar examination, there are at least five subjects: general principles of taxation, income taxation, local taxation, tariff and customs law, tax remedies and jurisprudence and transfer and business taxes.

Aside from the textbooks for each subject, law students also have to read assigned pieces of jurisprudence (cases decided by the Supreme Court) that professors expect them to recite in capsule form during class recitation or write case briefs of them (case digests) or BOTH.

Imagine having to read nine to ten textbooks in one semester and also having to read 20 to 30 (in other schools, up to 150 or 300) cases each of which has an average of 30 pages. In short, at least 500 pages of a textbook plus at least 600 pages of jurisprudence in one subject multiplied by the number of enrolled subjects in a semester (normally nine). That amounts to an astonishing total of AT LEAST 9,900 PAGES within a period of five months.

As if the above facts are not shocking enough, in their fourth year, law students have to undergo "review subjects" in which they have to reread and review all the rules, provisions, principles and doctrines they have learned in their first three years in law school. After graduation, they have around eight months NOT to relax but to read "review textbooks" which summarize the contents of all the textbooks and all the thousands of cases they have read.

Basically, you have to read at least 60,000 pages in three years. Reread that in your fourth year and review that after graduation before the bar examination.

Then comes the BAR EXAMINATIONIt is the culmination of all their sacrifices, sleepless nights, carpal and back pains, headaches, embarrassments and efforts. They have to take a month-long examination in the month of November. Each Sunday has two exam subjects: one in the morning and another in the afternoon. In between these Sundays, there is no time to relax; they read pre-week notes and attend pre-week lectures.

Going through law school is a difficult experience. It demands too much time, too much effort, too much money and too much energy. But of course, it is also a place of dreams and endeavors. It is a place of passion, a hope for the future and love for justice.


[1] Bar exam flunkers deserve recognition too.
[4] How Hard Is Law School? by Lee Burgess. Updated July 12, 2019.

Lee Burgess has been a lawyer since 2008. She's also a law professor and co-founded three websites for law students preparing for the bar exam.

By the time you start your law school experience, you likely have heard that law school is hard. But often students wonder, how hard is law school, and what makes law school harder than undergraduate work? Here are five reasons that law school is challenging.

[a] The Case Method of Teaching Can Be Frustrating.
[b] The Socratic Method Can Be Intimidating.
[c] Likely Only One Exam for the Entire Semester.
[d] Few Opportunities for Feedback.
[e] The Curve Is Brutal.

[5] The Hard Realities of Law School in the Philippines. Sabrina Sabrina Follow Feb 27, 2018.

So you want to go to law school? That’s great! Congratulations! Wow, amazing! Now let’s sit down and talk about what actually happens in the four years you’ll be studying the law and working your way to pass that Bar exam…

[a] You’ll be studying for four years.
[b] You will have to memorize.
[c] Recitation will instill the fear of God in your soul.
[d] You will meet assholes.
[e] Your mental health will be affected.
[f] Law school is sexist as fuck.