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Is it your dream to become a lawyer?

If yes, perhaps just like Grade 12 student Hans Kasilag, you also hope to get more insight from law practitioners and think about what you need to keep in mind in pursuing the profession.

Well, Kasila, who hails from the Quezon Province, has asked Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno for some helpful advice and has shared the responses he got from them.

‘Give voice to the voiceless’

In his reply to Kasilag, Escudero says that while profession seems glamorous and prestigious, becoming a lawyer requires hard work.

“Aspiring to become a lawyer means you need to study very hard. It is not only about memorizing laws or being able to argue or debate about certain issues,” he writes. “You need to develop good study habits, patience, and focus. One must also learn to love what you are reading.”

Being a lawyer also comes with a sense of responsibility.

“When you become a lawyer, you are in a position to help individuals, groups, and organizations, especially those who are oppressed and abused,” he adds. “As a lawyer, you have the opportunity to give voice to the voiceless, and to stand up for those who are wronged.”

Escudero cheers on Kasilag, too, with reassuring words about life.

“Do not be afraid to make mistakes, because [it] teaches us lessons. Do not be afraid to fail, for failures are important to grow and to find out truly who we are,” he says. “Always be guided that one must counter the waves in order to succeed and no matter how cruel the society is, always choose kindness.”

‘Always keep in mind what the law is for’

Echoing Escudero’s advice about hard work, Diokno tells Kasilag to “be dedicated.”

“I will not lie to you, Hans. This is a difficult and stressful field that you want to enter. Law school can be overwhelming, especially here in the Philippines,” he says.

While it’s good to be able to “manage your time well, to stay organized, and to know how to handle pressure,” Diokno says it’s all the more helpful “to keep in mind why you’re pursuing a legal profession in the first place,” which in his case is because of the “injustices I saw when I was young.”

The human rights lawyer also suggests working on both speaking and writing skills. He says it’s one of the many pieces of advice he got from his father and the late statesman, Jose Diokno.

“A lawyer has only two weapons: the written word and the spoken word. If we cannot use these weapons well, we won’t be of much help to our client,” he explains. “When I told my father I wanted to be a lawyer like him, he told me the same thing. He encouraged me to spend more time reading and writing, both in English and Filipino. This is helpful, he told me, because when we train ourselves to express our thoughts and feelings more clearly, we also train ourselves to think more clearly. That’s something every lawyer needs.”

But perhaps the most important advice Diokno got from his father is this—always keep in mind what the law is for.

“The task of the law is to persuade people to do what is right and fair,” he writes. “This, perhaps, is the best way to orepare for the legal profession: to always do what is right and fair and to convince othera to do the same. Do this in all things, both big and small. Do this inside the classroom and outside in your daily life. Do this for everyone—not just when you’re the one being wronged or experiencing unfairness.”

Diokno also suggests reading the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, because, as he puts it, “the firat step to keeping our rights intact is to make sure we know about them.”

He ends the letter to Kasilag with words pf encouragement.

“I know that nowadays, it’s so easy to be cynical about the legal profession, especially if you’re a young Filipino who sees how the law can be twisted and bent to favor the rich and the powerful,” he says. “But your hope gives me hope, and I look forward to the day we become fellow lawyers—or (I hope, but no pressure) maybe even fellow human rights lawyers, too. I wish you all the best.”

Featured image by Ariana Maralit

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