De Lima Proposes Reforms In Legal Education

Senator Leila M. De Lima has filed a bill which seeks to harmonize the coordination between two legal education institutions aimed at instituting faster reforms that are responsive with the recent developments in legal practice in the country.

De Lima, a lawyer by profession, filed Senate Bill No. 781 designating the Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) or his representative to sit as vice chair of the Legal Education Board (LEB).

“As the practice of law is an ever-evolving discipline whose role is continually increasing in our society, we should have a coordinated effort towards legal education. We can do so by establishing a nexus between the LEB and PHILJA,” she said.

At present, LEB and PHILJA are two academic institutions that regulate legal education in the country.

Created by virtue of Republic Act No. 7662, otherwise known as the Legal Education Reform Act of 1993, the LEB is an independent unit under the Department of Education (DepEd) which deals with the education of aspiring lawyers.

PHILJA, meanwhile, caters to the training of those already practicing law. Created under Republic Act No. 8557, it is mandated to “serve as a training school for justices, judges, court personnel, lawyers and aspirants to judicial posts.”

“While these two institutions cater to different students, both of them teach the same legal system. Thus, there is need to harmonize the direction in which the legal education is being administered,” De Lima pointed out.

In order to create a bridge that will help harmonize the efforts between the two educational institutions, De Lima proposed under her measure that the PHILJA Chancellor or his representative be appointed as vice-chair of the LEB.

“Since PHILJA is more connected to the judiciary and the bar owing to its mandate, their presence in the LEB can serve to provide opportunities to initiate faster reforms based on real time developments in the practice of law,” she argued.

With PHILJA strategically connected with the LEB, the lady Senator from Bicol explained that it would be easier for these two academic institutions to complement their respective efforts in strengthening the country’s legal education system.

De Lima’s measure seeks to amend Section 4 of RA No. 7662 to include the PHILJA Chancellor or its representative as vice chair of LEB.

According to De Lima, the PHILJA representative will be instrumental in influencing LEB policies to harmonize both institutions’ efforts to further improve the country’s legal education program.

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