Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Entry #5 - Careless answer

I must remind myself every so often about what I had learned in high school math, never be careless and always be careful of a seemingly simple question, it can turn out to be tricky.

Here's probably an example in law, a question on legal ethics:

Q: May a lawyer represent a subsequent client in a case against a former client?

A careless answer: No. An attorney owes loyalty to his client not only in the case in which he has represented him but also after the relation of attorney and client has terminated.

In this question, I think what the examiner is looking for is the examinee's knowledge and understanding of the scope of the rule against representing conflicting interests. My ready answer is that an attorney can represent any client of his choosing as long as no conflict of interests or an appearance thereof arises.

Here's a proposed careful answer: Yes, as long as no conflict of interests or the appearance thereof arises from the representation. Identity of client, though an important consideration, is not sine qua non in the rule against representing conflicting interests. A lawyer is forbidden from representing a subsequent client against a former client only when the subject matter of the present controversy is related, directly or indirectly, to the subject matter of the previous litigation in which he appeared for the former client.

Otherwise, there is no confidential information that the lawyer can use to his unfair advantage against a former client in a totally unrelated case. However, prudence dictates that the lawyer should still inform his subsequent client about their adversary being his former client.
He must avoid any suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of his duty."

The answer may be too long.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Entry #4 - Spine Technique

Today, I venture to call my discovery of sorts in the study of law as the "Spine Technique." (Try googling it, there's no such term yet, I think, relative to the study of law. But I believe it's not a novel technique; I just got it a new name.)

Spine is based on the belief that there is a general principle of law behind every provision or enumerated instances in rules, regulations and procedures. It's easier to understand and recall legal provisions if they are viewed as stemming out from a common branch or spine. Of course it's best if you can recall verbatim pertinent provisions. But the study and application of law is supposed to be a fulfilling and meaningful discipline, neither mechanical nor unnecessarily complex.

If you have time, always try to look for the Spine in every legal detail. It'll break the sometimes monotonous and cumbersome process of legal preparation and bring you closer to the essence of becoming a lawyer.

May elaborate on Spine if I have more time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Entry #3

Still working on earning the 10.5 hours I committed myself to spend each day for the review. As of this passing midnight, I still have to earn two more hours. My concentration is still sharp at these hours so I'll continue (I'm on a 15-minute break) to study until 2:30am. Though I will slowly adjust my daily schedule to regular hours to fit into the bar exam schedule.

By this time I already know some of the threats that could detach me from my planned review schedule. Friends for instance suddenly call or text to ask for favors or a chit-chat meet-up, or I get to be offered some juicy projects for a quick buck. I know my priorities. Friends and love ones may never be able to understand the extent of the focus and effort required of a bar reviewee in order for him to fully prepare for the bar exam. Never mind them for now, I can just make amends later.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Entry #2

Sunday is rest day, though I spent 1.5 hours to read legal ethics reviewer. Tomorrow is the start of my scheduled review but I just tried to log in initial reading hours earlier because I have to finish some remaining business in the office.

I'm contemplating if I'll study at home or at a study center where I could interact with fellow law reviewees. Home entails no cost, except for little electricity, and the reading materials are readily available from my computer, the internet and mini-library. Also it saves time from traveling to and from the study center. Though I live alone in my pad, there are however occasional distractions, like my dog (a stress reliever though), neighbors, the sleep-inviting couch, TV, etc. Study center meanwhile guarantees complete silence, airconditioned comfort, ready food and interaction with fellow law reviewees in between breaks. But the cost is at least P800 per month. For the travel time, I can use it as a break in my environment so I won't feel this isolated in the long review period.

I'll look for a best suitable study center. I'll have home as study venue in the meantime.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Entry #1

Already spent 5 hours studying legal ethics. Stopped at page 20 of a 160-page reviewer. Too slow at 15 minutes per page so I had to reexamine my approach. I've decided to stop note-taking (since it is slowing me down) in favor of some mental rehearsal technique. Note-taking (summarizing, noting basic/important details) will come later during the evaluation day I have scheduled at the end of each week.

Here's one piece of advice I've read after I stopped studying to review my approach: Think first and read afterwards. If you have half an hour reading, spend ten minutes in reviewing your own knowledge and thought on the subject--even if you think you have none, you may engage in wondering about it--and then read for twenty minutes. It's from the book "Mind and Memory Training" by Ernest E. Wood.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Studying Remedial Law

It happened that after reading for comprehension and understanding the Rules of Court, I always ended up forgetting even the most basic rules of procedure. This is perhaps because Remedial Law is a very technical subject. You have to correlate the rules and not just read them by section. Also, you must have a skeletal or outline mastery of the Rules before even trying to deal with its complexities.

That is my new approach now and I hope it will work. I take a reviewer of Remedial Law (which already correlates the rules, though the sequence is still by rules) and then write in my elementary notebook (to simulate Bar exam writing and polish my penmanship) the basic principles, concepts and rationales in each rule. The goal is to acquire a fundamental working knowledge of the law such that when you are asked for advice by a layman, you can adequately respond and offer a cursory remedy to his legal problem pertaining to this subject.

This way I don't have to waste time reading and re-reading the rules and then forgetting them the next week. Once I've mastered the basic concepts and general rules, then I could easily tackle the exceptions and it technical complexities at the appropriate time. This should work for me and I hope for you too.


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