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Ateneo Law School grads lead 1,913 Bar exam 2011 passers

February 29, 2012 2:30pm
(Updated 4 p.m.) A graduate of the Ateneo Law School emerged first among the 1,913 examinees who passed the 2011 Bar examinations held last November. Two other Ateneo graduates made it to the top ten, outnumbering any other school.

Those who passed comprise 31.95 percent of the 5,990 law graduates who took the test — the second highest passing rate since 2000 — and substantially higher than 2010's 20.26 percent. Notably, no UP Law graduates made it to the top ten. In the 2010 bar exams, three UP grads made it to the magic ten. 

Two graduates of San Beda College law school were among the top ten, the only other school with more than one graduate on the hallowed list, an honor they will carry throughout their careers as lawyers. 

Raoul Angelo Atadero from Ateneo Law School emerged on top with 85.536 percent score.

Others in the Top 10 are:

2.  Luz Danielle Bolong (Ateneo Law School) - 84.5563
3.  Cherry Rafal-Roble (Arellano University) - 84.4550
4.  Rosemil Banaga (Notre Dame University) - 84.1226
5.  Christian Louie Gonzales (University of Sto. Tomas) - 84.0938
6.  Ivan Bandal (Silliman University) - 84.0901
7.  Eireene Xina Acosta (San Beda College) - 84.0663
8.  Irene Marie Qua (Ateneo Law School) - 84.0575
9.  Elaine Marie Laceda (FEU-DLSU) - 84.0401
10. Rodolfo Aquino  (San Beda College) - 83.7276

Photos of the Top 10 examinees who passed the 2011 Bar exams was released by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Three are Ateneo law graduates. SCPIO

The list of passers was displayed on the Supreme Court premises and flashed on wide screens in the high court's front yard near the Padre Faura entrance in Manila.

During a full court session Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court authorized the Office of the Bar Confidant to decode the test papers – a process in which the examination number is matched with the name of the examinee. To see the complete list of passers, please click here.

Topnotcher learns of good news

Atadero, who currently works as a legal assistant at the Puno & Puno law offices, told GMA News Online in an interview that he skipped work Wednesday just to await the results of the exams.

When the results were flashed on television, Atadero - a Quezon City resident - said he was with his mother, who let out a scream after learning the good news.
"I was really surprised, honestly. I didn't think I did well. Some parts of the exam were difficut. I really found them difficut," Atadero said.
Atadero admitted not being used to the multiple-choice questions in the exams, saying it was only recently that the Ateneo Law School started adopting the new test format in teaching.

"All our years in law school, na-train kami sa essays. Even my classmates were all unfamiliar with it [the new format]," he said.
Asked if he plans to celebrate his victory with his family later in the day, Atadero said with a laugh: "Siguro. Pero tatapusin ko muna siguro yung mga ganitong media interviews."

Law schools' passing rates

Law deans tend to downplay top ten results and highlight instead schools' passing rates as more worthy of bragging rights. If that's the case, UP Law can boast that it did better than Ateneo. According to university sources, 93 percent of UP's first-time takers passed, barely edging Ateneo's 92.73 percent. 

Elite schools UP and Ateneo have long been considered the top law schools in the nation, with their graduates occupying many top government positions and dominating even the Corona impeachment trial, where nearly all the main players are alumni of either of the schools. 

2011 Bar exams

A total of 6,200 law graduates originally took the exams but only 5,990 ended up completing the entire battery of tests, which were spread out during the four Sundays of November last year.

The venue was moved last year from the De La Salle University along Taft Avenue in Manila to the UST campus along España Boulevard, also in Manila. The month for the exams was likewise moved from September to November.

The SC earlier banned festive celebrations that were part of the traditional "bar operations," to avoid a repeat of last year's Bar Exam tragedy where a grenade blast injured more than 40 people.

In the 2010 Bar exams, the results of which were released in March the following year, a total of 982 out of the 4,847 examinees passed, with Ateneo Law graduate Cesario Antonio Singzon emerging on top with a grade of 89 percent.

Format changes

Apart from the time and place, other changes implemented for the first time in the 2011 Bar Exams included the use of multiple-choice questions and essay-type questions that were not "Bar-subject specific."

The essay was divided into two parts: writing a trial memorandum or a decision based on a documented legal dispute; and preparing a legal opinion for a client concerning a potential legal dispute.

The final grade is derived from the multiple-choice exam results (60 percent), and from the essay-type exam results (40 percent).

A candidate's results in the essay-type exam will still be checked "irrespective" of the results of his or her multiple-choice exam.

Men-women ratio

More women than men have made it to the top ten in the last 12 years of the exams: (71) female Bar topnotchers against (59) from their male counterparts from 2000 to 2011.

The Bar exam in September 2008 had the most women topnotchers. Of the 12 topnotchers, 10 of them were women, led by Judy Lardizabal from San Sebastian College with a rating of 85.70 percent.

Former senator Tecla San Andres-Ziga was the first woman to top the Bar in 1930, with a rating of 89.4 percent.

Men, however, have dominated the top spot more often than women since the new millennium began, with seven male law graduates occupying the pinnacle in the last 12 years.

They are:

- Eliseo M. Zuniga Jr of  UP (2000);

- Rodolfo Ma. A. Ponferrada of UP (2001);

- Aenas Eli S. Diaz of Ateneo (in 2003);

- Noel Neil Q. Malimban of the University of the Cordilleras (2006);

- Reinier Paul Yebra of the San Beda College (84.88 in 2009); and

- Cesareo Antonio Singzon of the Ateneo (89.00 in 2010).

Meanwhile, the five women who topped the Bar exam in the new millenium are:

- Arlene M. Maneja of the University of Sto. Tomas (92.90 in 2002);

- January A. Sanchez of UP (87.45 in 2004);

- Joan A. de Venecia of UP (87.20 in 2005);

- Mercedita Ona of the Ateneo de Manila University (83.55 in 2007); and

- Judy Lardizabal of the San Sebastian College (85.7 in 2008).

Law schools

UP has so far produced the most number - around 50 - of Bar top-notchers since 1913, including former Philippine Presidents Manuel Roxas (1913), Ferdinand Marcos (1939); and former Senator Jovito Salonga (1944); incumbent Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III (1990); and former Defense Minister Gilberto Teodoro Jr (1989).

Among the prominent top-notchers from the University of Santo Tomas and the Ateneo Law School are former President Diosdado Macapagal (1936) and current Supreme Court Justice Arturo Brion (1974), respectively. — LBG/HS/RSJ, GMA News
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