Atty. Rami Hourani
There are many questions that are asked in a law school setting. There is are only a few for which a diverse set of answers is permitted. The question of “Why did you go to law school?” is one of those questions. The answers can be as interesting as “I want to fight for justice.” or as flat as “My mother wants a lawyer in the family”. In my mind though, there are only 3 good reasons to go to Law School in the Philippines. Let me tell you about them.
Going into Government
Our system of governance has created a strong tradition of civil service. There are families whose pride springs from their unwavering service to our great republic. In order to ascend though, a person in government takes on increasingly more discretion. This means that there are many ways that a person in the government service can run afoul of the law. In climbing the ranks, a natural selection process takes place whereby the persons who have the stomach for climbing up the ladder and taking on more responsibility occurs. A lawyer has an advantage in this regard because the government is a creature of law and so a lawyer will naturally know the boundaries which are not to be crossed and the limits of propriety.
Another advantage that lawyers have is an increased patience for tedium and attention to detail. Regardless of the office in government that anyone will occupy. There will be mounds of paperwork to get through which must be given attention. The training that you get in law school is to read mounds and mounds of dry material and still see meaning in them. I should take this opportunity though to say that a law license/degree is not an absolute requirement for ascension in the government service, it can help though.
Your Family/Business Needs a Lawyer
Strangely, I find the statement “My mother wants a lawyer in the family.” more compelling than “I want to fight for justice.” This is because at least your choice to go into law school has addressed a need for legal knowledge that you can see in your life. Good legal advice, when applied through a structure like a family can be a beautiful thing to behold. It can really bring a family which is just beginning to make a name for itself to that next level by protecting them against the hazards that so commonly destroy wealth and stability.
Four years in law school is a small price to pay for seeing everything your family has built up smoothly transition from one generation to the next. Everyone has some version of this story in the Philippines: “We were very wealthy but a great grandfather/uncle/mother/aunt squandered everything on a gambling/alcohol/sabong addiction and we had to sell our land holdings.” A lawyer in the family might not outright prevent such incidences but it would reduce the likelihood of it occurring. This is because your training will be in all the manifold ways by which people do harm to each other or to themselves and their family. Further, being a member of your family, you’ll already be in a position to advise them.
If you have no family wealth to protect and your priority is economic stability or prosperity, look elsewhere. There are easier ways to earn money.
You love the Law
This is perhaps the best reason to go into the law. It’s a bit of a catch-22 though because you don’t even really know what the law is until you’ve gone through your first year of law school. If you have to ask how you know if you love it, I hate to be the one to break it to you but I daresay you may never have loved at all. You’ll know it, when you know it.
This is the reason that is the most personal and varied in expression. In my own experience, I like that there is a secular source of meaning in my life. It helps ground me. For you, it may be the intellectual challenge. For others, it may be the law’s ability to answer difficult questions. Others still, might love the law for the utility that it can provide them in their economic endeavor.
If you’re in law school and reading this. I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor. I’m always open to helping those working their way through. If you need a little advise, don’t hesitate to contact me here.
Atty. Hourani practices law in Cebu City, Philippines. If you would like to set an appointment with him, you may reach him here.