Getting into a Philippine law school without a "pre-law" degree

[Part 2 of "So do you really want to be a lawyer?" Blog Series. Read Part 1 here.]

You don't need a pre-law degree to get into a Philippine law school.

I repeat: you do NOT need a pre-law degree to get into a Philippine law school.

That you need a "pre-law" degree to get into law school is a thing of the past. These days, any "how-to" guide will tell you as much: education website tells you that you only need to "be a graduate of any four-year Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or college."

My favorite among the "get into law school" primers is FilipiKnow's primer (as an aside: FilipiKnow is one of my favorite homegrown blogs. It's an absolute treasure trove of information). #2 of their primer says that you need only to "[O]btain a bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university." Quoting another post by FilipiKnow (seriously, I love that blog!), law alumni generally say that "in the end, all pre-bar degrees are equal in the study of law."

That is 100% true.

It really doesn't matter anymore what your "pre-law" degree was. All that matters is you've acquired the units. Rule 138, Sec. 6 of the Rules of Court really only says this with respect to your "pre-law":

No applicant for admission to the bar examination shall be admitted unless he presents a certificate that he has satisfied the Secretary of Education that, before he began the study of law, he had pursued and satisfactorily completed in an authorized and recognized university or college, requiring for admission thereto the completion of a four-year high school course, the course of study prescribed therein for a bachelor's degree in arts or sciences with any of the following subjects as major or field of concentration: political science, logic, english, spanish, history and economics.

If you're not well-versed in reading the law, this chunk of text (which is really just ONE SENTENCE!) seems really confusing, so let's break this down: What you need is a certificate.

What should this certificate say? That you:
  1. Pursued; and
  2. Satisfactorily completed
the course of study prescribed by an authorized and recognized university or college
  • And that university or college [should have required] for admission the completion of a four-year high school course
And this "course of study" is for either:
  1. A bachelor's degree in arts; or
  2. A bachelor's degree in sciences
and this course of study has any of the following fields of concentration or major: political science, logic, English, Spanish, history, and economics.

That last part, it has been said, is directory. You don't have to major in those subjects, but if you don't, you'll need to have taken up some subjects as a prerequisite for admission.

Each law school has different admission requirements and different unit minimums per subject. I'll list down below the requirements for the schools you're probably looking at:

Social Sciences
Philosophy, PolSci, Psych, Socio

*In units

If you're still deciding on a college course, I highly suggest that you don't base your choice solely on the fact that you want to pursue law. A good test in deciding what course you will take is to ask yourself this: Will I have a career here if I don't go to law school?

This has practical value. Plans don't go the way you want them to sometimes. You might find yourself in another career path. Heck, even your college degree honestly has very little to do with the job or business you'll find yourself doing in the future.

However, if nothing is going to stop you from pursuing law, here's my advice: take up a course that's related to the field of law you want to practice anyway. If you want to work for NGOs or advocate for women and children, take up Development Studies. If you want to work in Intellectual Property, pursue a technology-based or creative course. Maybe Art Management. Maybe Marketing. Maybe IT or Pharmacy. If you want to get into public service, take up Development Studies or Political Science or Public Management. If you want to be in corporate law, take up Business Administration or Management (or Legal Management, although really, there's only one school where Legal Management is "Management" first and "Legal" second--other schools use this as a "mini-law").

So, really, Lin, which pre-law courses are the best?

Any course, as long as you have fun with it. My peers were all sorts of people: my law school best friend is an engineer; I had several classmates who were nurses; some worked in PR firms or telcos. Lots are accountants. Some of my friends are lawyers already, and they've done fabulously so far. My batchmates? They're smashing it.

Don't lock yourself in. Explore the world before law becomes your world.

(And if you really want practical advice, and this is the last I'll say about it: get into a course that demands plenty of reading and writing.)


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