November ushers in the holiday season: cooler temperatures, festive dinners, Christmas decorations, and carols. However, while most are raring to go holiday shopping, law students are occupied with the bar examinations.
Unlike last year when the exams were held in October, the 2016 bar examinations are now spread out through the 4 Sundays of November. The Supreme Court approved the recommendation to move the exams in consideration of the academic shift of some law schools in the country (including the Ateneo Law School or ALS).
Since May 2016, the ALS Central Bar Operations (Bar Ops) has been helping prospective examinees from the ALS prepare for the bar exams. A voluntary endeavor, Bar Ops is a school-wide operation that provides transportation, academic support and even financial aid to bar takers.
“Bar Ops is basically the catch-all for any student and bar taker. Everyone in the ALS wants to pass the bar and joining Bar Ops seems to be the most direct way to help fellow schoolmates reach that goal,” says Mico Clavano, a third year ALS student.
A first time Bar Ops volunteer, Clavano believes that Bar Ops “empowers and encourages students whether they are taking the bar exams or volunteering in (Bar Ops) activities.”
“Although it is unfair to equate volunteer work in Bar Ops with our studies, the reason why we are all studying is to pass the bar. So it seems just right to dedicate time to helping those who have made it so close to reach that common dream that all law students share,” he says. Clavano is tasked to help raise money to cover Bar Ops activities. To do this, he organizes fund raising activities for the Bar Ops.
Bar Ops also helps foster a shared vision and team spirit in the ALS community, as another volunteer attests.
Third year student Isa Avanceña has been volunteering for Bar Ops since her first year in ALS. A school-based system like Bar Ops, she says, “brings everyone closer (together) as a community.”
“Everyone is involved in Bar Ops — students, administration, teaching and non-teaching staff. It really is a community-wide effort,” she says. Aside from the practical assistance that Bar Ops provide like review programs and study materials, Avanceña says the whole operation is a great way to bond as a team.
“What I enjoy the most is getting to meet and work with other law students. We’re all from different year levels and each of us has our own struggles to deal with at any given time. But working on Bar Ops brings us together and we’re able to learn from each other and grow together.”
Avanceña is one of the 3 understudies for the operations’ Administration Committee. As such, she has to learn and understand all aspects of Bar Ops in preparation for a bigger responsibility in the next Bar Ops installment.
While she admits that studying law may take a toll on a student, Avanceña does not see volunteering for Bar Ops as a liability; instead, she believes that Bar Ops has created a positive change in her.
“Being part of Bar Ops gives me a different perspective as I go through my own law school journey. It’s a constant reminder for me that there’s more to it than just the academic grind, there’s camaraderie and service. Bar Ops gives me a sense of fulfillment that I don’t necessarily get from my academics or other aspects of law school life. It is one of the many opportunities to be a man for others in the law school environment.”