The J.D. program of the College of Law will equip its graduates with the necessary skills to successfully hurdle the Bar Examinations. But its purpose and design is to prepare them for their duties and responsibilities as vanguards of justice, protectors and promoters of the Rule of Law, and future Members of the Bar.
Effective the 2nd semester of academic year 2018-2019, the University has conferred the degree Juris Doctor (J.D.) non-thesis to the graduates of its College of Law, pursuant to Legal Education Board Memorandum Order No. 19, series of 2018 (migration of the basic law course to Juris Doctor).
The University of San Agustin College of Law was founded in 1939 with the goal of providing the people of Western Visayas with access to the Rule of Law, by producing lawyers whose legal education is marked by ethical competence and intellectual excellence.
While its operations were suspended due to the outbreak of World War II, these promptly resumed in 1946. A year later, the Department of Instruction issued Government Recognition No. 308, Series of 1947 to authorize then-Colegio de San Agustin, now University of San Agustin to grant the degree of Bachelor of Laws (Ll.B.) effective July 1, 1947. Its first batch of graduates who have been dubbed the “Seven Wise Men” took and passed the 1947 Bar Examinations with one of them, Antonio Montelibano, obtaining the third highest rank.
Graduates of the College of Law are now conferred Juris Doctor (J.D.) effective the second semester of academic year 2018-2019, pursuant to Legal Education Board Memorandum Order No. 19, series of 2018. But whether LL.B. or J.D., the Augustinian legal education and values that the College of Law imparts to its students and promotes to society remains the same. It has, and continues to mold generations of advocates whose legal knowledge is strengthened by their conscience, or at the very least their common sense: their Scientia, tempered by their Virtus.
The Members of Faculty of the College of Law come from wide-ranging fields, whose professional backgrounds and personal advocacies perfectly intertwine with the courses they teach. In its ranks are Judges, Prosecutors, Public Attorneys, and include the Regional Directors of the Public Attorney’s Office and of the Commission on Human Rights, as well as private practitioners who specialize in various practice areas of the law: arbitration, commercial, family, criminal, labor, to name a few.
Many Members of the Faculty earned post-graduate degrees in law and in related fields. The conduct extensive research and present papers in national and international conferences, as well as author legal treatises, lawbooks, and legal articles. Their professional backgrounds and interests, educational qualifications, and dedication give them a unique insight not only into the theory of the law, but also its practice. Which fully capacitate them to convey the spirit and the letter of the law to their students.
On the other hand, the students of the College of Law come from diverse backgrounds. Aside from the “traditional” law students with degrees in the social sciences or accountancy, many now come from the outside the Western Visayas region, and from various professions such as medical doctors, pharmacists, medical technologists, nurses, engineers, and geologists. The cosmopolitan student community is itself an ideal environment for the dynamic exchange of ideas and perspectives for the study and understanding of the law. These enable them to take an active stand in voicing out their concerns and opinions about and taking concrete steps towards addressing various social issue. Together with the College of Law’s support staff, they are the College of Law’s indispensable partners in the attainment of its goals.
Apart from the College of Law’s human resources, its Law Library was named by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as a Model Law Library. It has one of the biggest collection of legal resources in the region, which consists of of up-to-date local and international lawbooks and treatises, periodicals, online resources, and legal publications that date from the Spanish period. These complement the audio-visual resources in each classroom and are invaluable teaching tools that enrich the students’ learning experiences.
The College of Law takes pride in the performance of its alumni in the Bar Examinations. Not just its topnotchers: Antonio Montelibano (3rd place, 1947 Bar Examinations) was followed by Rodolfo Taasan (12th, 1950), Secretary of Energy Wenceslao de la Paz (3rd, 1963), Carmelo Betita (7th, 1963), Court of Appeals Justice Mario Guariña (2nd, 1966) Eduardo Aguillon (9th, 1971), Ricardo Chu, Jr. (3rd, 1972), Dolores Abad (3rd, 1984), Judge Ma. Elena Opinion (10th, 1986), Member of the Faculty Judge Cyril Regalado (7th, 1988), and Allana Mae Babayen-on (4th, 2016). But also its overall passing rate, which is always higher than the national average, and consistently among the top 12 law schools nationwide.
While the College of Law is proud of its past achievements, it is cognizant of the fact that it must also look towards the future. Justice is the cornerstone of civil society, and like the study and the practice of law, the protection and promotion of justice is continuous and continuing. The College of Law recognizes that it can and must do more things if those who comprise its community – the students, faculty, staff, and alumni – are to become productive members of society: through the continuous training of competent, qualified, and dedicated persons who will provide access to justice to our countrymen.
In pursuit of these goals, and with the support of the University Administration, it has embarked on various activities and linkages with regional, national, and international universities and agencies. Among these are:
- The participation of its Moot Court Teams in various national and international moot court competitions, where they consistently finish as finalists or semifinalists and are recognized for the speaking ability of its members and for their written memoranda;
- Partnership with the Philippine Arbitration Center in the Visayas (PACV), headed by a Member of the Faculty. PACV is the first and only school-based arbitration center in Southeast Asia, is a fully functioning arbitration center accredited with the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center (PDRC), and is the first arbitration center in the Philippines to adopt fully virtual/online hearings. It is also a practical laboratory that familiarizes the students of the College of Law about the procedures and processes of arbitration cases, and about the value of arbitration as a tool for the protection of rights.
- Partnership with The Asia Foundation (TAF) for the capacity-building of its professors and students to fully implement the Revised Law Student Practice Rule.
- Environmental Defense Program partnership with the Ateneo Law School for law students to participate in their Summer Internship Programs.
- Erasmus+ KA107 International Credit Mobility (ICM) Staff Mobility Training at the Facultad de Derecho of the Universidad de Malaga, Spain for Members of the Faculty.
- Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Legal and Social Advancement in the Philippines (CALESA) (609668-EPP-1-2019-1-ES-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP [2019-2012]), a three-year consortium which commenced in 2020 with the following members: Universidad de Malaga (lead institution), Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, in Lisbon, Portugal, University Central College Dublin, Ireland, the University of San Agustin, the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, and the Philippine Judicial Academy, Supreme Court of the Philippines.
These collaborations will further enrich the education and skills of its students, enhance the capabilities of its faculty, and upgrade its curriculum to make it even more relevant to the needs of the times. All of which are intended for one goal: for its graduates to contribute to the betterment of humanity.