Salute to law students
Law students are a special breed of women and men. These people are trying to do something difficult and are willing to pay the price to get it done. For four years or maybe even more, they will toil and persevere, with only friends and family and the lonely company of law books sustaining them through the hardest parts of the journey, where pride takes a beating and faith is tested every single day.
It takes a certain amount of humility to be a law student—the willingness to bow your head and, if need be, to kneel before the gods, which is how most law professors conduct themselves in your presence while you are still a student of law. They are professors who profess superiority, and mentors who torment you. They hold your destiny in the palm of their hands, and you better make sure you keep that in your head while they lead you on, teasing and taunting and trying to break your spirit slowly and methodically, not with one single crushing blow but, most of the time, with little doses of venom to make sure you’re conscious through all the pain.
To see you quit is counted as a victory for the system. But people who walk away from a fight do not necessarily lose, or surrender into accepting that they are not brave enough. Results don’t matter anymore if you know you gave it everything you’ve got.
Sometimes, when it’s fate that really wants it to happen, walking away shows you another direction that you may have overlooked in your rush to get to your initial goal. That should present so many other possibilities that could be greater than what you aspired to achieve at the beginning of your journey, depending on what you can make out of them, of course.
Nothing in life is ever wasted, and certainly, not the time spent in the study of law—the sheer difficulty of the task adding to the emotional fortitude that a person needs in order to surmount all the adversities in life.
Taking the bar is a spiritual experience, with an almost heroic sacrifice involved in the act. Sometimes the body quits and the mind follows, until you are left with only your heart to carry on. But you’ll be shocked at just how far it can take you—that heart that wouldn’t go slowly into the night.
There is almost a cinematic finality to your last-ditch stand, like Braveheart come to life. The heart is not your intellectual sword in the battlefield that the mind is, but it is the thing that keeps you fighting through mortal wounds.
Finally, that glorious moment of passing the bar and becoming a lawyer should be your destiny to claim if it’s really meant for you. That’s when you realize that you remain a student—a student for life, because the law demands no less than continuous hard-driven learning, a learning not so much of law as of life itself in the biggest and grandest stage.
You finally understand the inherent ruthlessness that goes with the process of delivering justice. Ruthless, yes, but all-powerful and irreplaceable, that’s why it has always been that way.
You finally appreciate the law for its being harsh, embrace its cold neutrality, and find the belated sense of gratitude to the professors who molded you to be like them, by making you hate them and swear to your soul not to be like them—until the day that you wake up to the reality that you’ve actually imbibed the same ruthlessness that you once abhorred. And still you love what you do, because of the way it heightens the beauty and the purpose of your own humanity.
Adel Abillar ([email protected]) is a private law practitioner with a small office in Quezon City where, he says, “I alternate between being boss and messenger.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.