Becoming a lawyer during a pandemic
“Beshies, I just lost my mom.” Like the rain that’s not supposed to pour in a bright and sunny day, the message caught me off-guard. While I was busy reviewing for my scheduled subject, this message was sent by a good friend to our group chat. Asked about what happened, she said that her mother succumbed to the fight against cancer which she has been battling for four years. Never did our friend mention it before. Being the strong woman that she is, she kept this to herself and fought with her mother all throughout the gruesome journey.
In a parallel universe, we would have taken our time to pay respects to our Tita. We would have joined the company of our friend over cups of coffee and stories about how she supported and believed in her daughter’s brilliance. We would have personally brought flowers and hugged our friend tightly and reminded her that we are with her all the way.
But because of the pandemic, we cannot. All we could do is extend our condolences and pay our respects through the same virtual platform where she delivered the news. All we could do is think of ways on how to give moral support to our good friend in her situation.
Like most of us, our friend is currently preparing for this year’s Bar exams. We seldom talk because we all have our personal bubbles to deal with. We all have our ways on how to cope with the rigorous and taxing process of applying, studying and preparing for this year’s licensure test. The moment hit me like a speeding train and reminded me that there is still more to life than law.
In a not-so-distant past, times were simpler. We would always want to see our friends and loved ones — hug them and kiss them whenever possible. We were always eager to join crowds. We would relish the day-to-day interactions, even with strangers, and give them a smile or two along the way.
But because of the current health crisis, we were forced to change the way we live and the way we look at life in general. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were all thrown into a sinkhole. We may not notice it but we have all been in a free fall since last year, to be frank and exact.
Typing the words “condolences” and “get well soon” have become customary now. We have seen a lot of black profile photos or images of candles in our social media feeds. It is sad to see how some of our relatives, loved ones and friends have to deal with all these losses.
A handful of my loved ones, friends and colleagues have already been victims of the same situation. Some of them tested positive for the virus. Some of them lost a loved one because of the same. Some of them are trying to recover fully because the virus has taken a toll not only on their physical well-being but on their mental health as well. And what else is terrifying? I think it is the fact that no one is safe from the dangers of this pandemic, including law students and law practitioners.
It seems like aspiring lawyers like us have been forced to be a part of the system’s transition period — a time when we cannot fully control the circumstances surrounding our dreams of becoming lawyers. Substantial amendments were introduced to the laws which have been untouched for generations. A multitude of landmark cases were decided upon with finality — even changing the settled sets of jurisprudence we have been accustomed to.
A shift from the traditional onsite classes to a haphazard use of online platforms has been made. The pandemic we are experiencing has affected the study schedule of all the students of the law. Lastly, the fact of having the next bar examinations online has now shocked the legal community — a reform which may in fact come to fruition any time soon. With all that’s happening, one cannot truly focus on the task at hand, which is to study and prepare not only for the Bar but for the practice of the profession. A student in this trying time can only do so much.
I try to remind myself that while the study or practice of law is important, our lives are more important. Earning a law degree or a license to practice will be for naught if we will be sick or dying by the time we accomplish such feats. Our well-being is important in our journey to become lawyers.
It is important as well that we be able to show compassion towards others more frequently than ever. The numbers do not lie, many have died, so random acts of kindness could go a long way. I need to always remember that tough times don’t last but tough people do. May we all survive this most difficult of tests, this test on our spirits. May we all become the lawyers we are destined to be.
Archiebald F. Capila holds a Juris Doctor title and is currently preparing for the Bar. He loves to read books, whether they be related to law or not. He writes essays, features, and other creative nonfiction pieces. Archie also enjoys watching movies. “I stick to Ret. Chief Justice Panganiban’s stand — that we must enforce liberty and prosperity rights in all our dealings,” he says.
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