THE UNIVERSITY produced 100 new lawyers out of 193 Thomasian hopefuls who took the 2008 bar examination. But the passing rate has plunged.

The Faculty of Civil Law had a 51.81 percent passing rate, a far cry from last year’s 66 percent passing mark but much better than the national passing rate of 20.58 percent. Only 1,310 out of 6,364 examinees passed this year.

Acting Dean Roberto Abad noted that the Supreme Court again lowered the passing rate.

“UP (University of the Philippines), Ateneo and San Beda suffered the same decline in passing percentage. The other reason is we graduated an extraordinary large number last year,” Abad said.

Of the 100 Thomasian passers, 79 were first-time takers while 21 were repeaters. No Thomasian got to the top ten.

Despite the marked decrease in UST’s passing rate, Abad is satisfied that UST ranked fourth among the top-performing schools in the bar exams and said that the Faculty is very competent in commercial law.

While having a fourth topnotcher will bring honor to the Faculty, Abad said he would rather have Civil Law concentrate on improving the number of passers, which would also attract a greater number of students.

“Topping the bar is sometimes a matter of luck. We have to get the share of the best students. In our experience, they tend to go to UP, Ateneo and San Beda—the schools they (think are) the more prominent ones. What they do not know is that the large law firms in Makati and government agencies eye Thomasian graduates based on their job performance,” Abad added.

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Abad admitted that the Faculty must also improve on political and remedial law.

It has been seven years since Thomasian Arlene Maneja topped the Bar exams in 2002, following the decades-old legacies of former president Diosdado Macapagal and former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, who aced the bar exams in 1936 and 1924, respectively.

Update on Benipayo

Abad said the Faculty is still awaiting the return of Dean Alfredo Benipayo who suffered from stroke last year.

“Dean Benipayo has recovered from stroke; he is now mobile and cohesive in conversations. He is trying to fully regain his ability to teach. Hopefully, he would be able to handle light subjects and teaching load,” Abad said.

Abad confirmed that come June, a new dean will finally take over. He is included in the list of senior professors to replace Benipayo.

“This is a challenging job. We are trying to make the marketplace easier for Thomasian lawyers to penetrate, since most of our graduates practice private law,” he said.

Abad also said that the Faculty is planning to establish a center for commercial law to “specialize further in the field.”

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