Leonen issues new reminders re 2021 bar exams

On July 15, 2021, the Office of the Bar Chairperson issued Bar Bulletin No. 21 on the application process for the 2020/21 Bar Examinations, stating that the period for applications would be from July 15 to September 15, 2021.

The deadline applies only to the submissions of applications. It does not apply to the Supreme Court En Banc’s approval of the applications or the Office of the Bar Confidant’s verification of the petitions and supporting documents. These shall continue even after the application period has closed.All applicants who have submitted their petitions and supporting documents and paid the bar application fees by September 15, 2021 shall be deemed to have filed their applications within the deadline. Those whose bar application fee payments are pending confirmation as of September 15, 2021 are also deemed to have filed their applications on time.

Applications submitted within the deadline, but which may be returned to applicants due to noncompliance with application requirements, will still be considered as having been filed by September 15, 2021. Applicants may continue to access their Bar PLUS (Personal Login Unified System) dashboard for updates on the status of their applications.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Bar Chairperson has received information that applicants have been experiencing delays in the issuance of LEBC numbers from the Legal Education Board.

To ease the anxiety of our bar applicants, and considering that the law schools themselves will be in the best position to assure that their students have successfully completed all the prescribed law courses, submissions of school registrar certifications with LEBC number shall not be mandatory during the application period. If the certification is unavailable during the application period, applicants need only to submit their certificates of graduation from their law schools, and their applications will be conditionally approved. The school registrar certification with their LEBC number may be submitted to the Office of the Bar Confidant on or before January 31, 2022.

Applicants who have been unconditionally or conditionally approved by the Court En Banc will receive two notifications in their Bar PLUS-registered e-mail address: (1) instructions for access to the digitalized examination process for the 2020/21 Bar Examinations; and (2) instructions for choosing preferred local testing centers in preparation for venue matching.

Bar examinees will be asked to download and install Examplify, a secure exam delivery program. Sample exams will be made available in Examplify for bar examinees to familiarize themselves with its functions and features and to simulate the digitalized exam-taking experience. Bar examinees may take these sample exams multiple times.

Any similar downloads of the program from any other source, including review centers, will not work with the official copy that will be used for the Bar Examinations. Buying the program from any other source will not give the applicant any advantage from those that will download the one provided by the Court.

Venue matching is the process by which bar examinees will be assigned to local testing centers. Assignments will not be made on a first-come, first-served basis. Earlier-approved applicants will not have an automatic advantage over later approved applicants. All bar examinees may select two preferred local testing centers, but priority will be given to those whose residences are in remote areas. Further, considering that there are several testing centers in Metro Manila and Cebu, graduates of law schools designated as testing centers in these areas will be disallowed from taking the Bar Examinations at their law schools.

Examinees are advised to immediately submit their choices when asked so that the local testing centers can gauge their expected capacity and amply prepare.

Queries regarding Bar PLUS or the application process may be addressed to the Office of the Bar Confidant Helpdesk at:

Hotlines: (02) 85529690; (02) 85529619; (02) 85529642

Email address: obc.helpdesk.sc@judiciary.gov.ph

We are in the process of adding personnel to attend to these helplines. We will also be adding phone lines and are exploring other forms of messaging applications to address all concerns. The additional contact numbers will be announced in a separate Notice.

In the meantime, we ask for everyone’s patience. The pandemic and its surge have affected the offices of the Court, including the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Office of the Bar Chairperson. Bar PLUS was made so that all applicants can be safe in the confines of their homes or offices. However, court personnel continue to report physically to verify applications and payments, risking their and their families’ lives to serve all applications and attend to all queries by phone or e-mail. Many of them have had to isolate or quarantine as of this writing.

We have done everything to reduce your risks, and only ask that you be patient. Please understand the situation of our staff who attend to your applications, adjust the current software, and address all your queries.

Your effort to take the Bar Examinations is not yours alone. Many are involved in making it possible for you to take them and finally become a lawyer at the soonest possible time. We are all doing our best with the existing conditions.

Compassion is a fundamental trait of any good lawyer. It is also good karma.

Apply early, study well.

For your information and guidance.

August 26, 2021.

Associate Justice and
2020/21 Bar Examinations

SOURCE: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/files/bar-2021/bar-bulletin-24.pdf.