Retired professor told: Number of lawyers in Philippines less than ideal

April 13, 2022 - 8:35 PM
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This April 12, 2022 photo shows the screen where the 2020-21 Bar examinations results will be released at the Supreme Court. (Philstar.com/Kristine Patag)

The country has fewer lawyers considering the number of people who may need them.

Lawyer Gideon Peña pointed this out on Twitter in response to the remark of retired professor Clarita Carlos that there is an oversupply of lawyers in the Philippines.

Carlos, who previously made headlines after she became a panelist at a presidential debate, posted this view on Facebook after the release of the bar exam results.

RELATED: Release of exemplary, excellent passers instead of Bar topnotchers lauded 

“Not to rain on anyone’s parade…but, me thinks we need more scientists, engineers and doctors…not more lawyers!” she wrote.

Screenshot of retired professor Clarita Carlos’ Facebook post captured on April 13, 2022

The post can no longer accessed by the public.

Prior to deletion, it gathered 33,000 reactions, 2,700 comments and 4,500 shares.

In response to this, Peña’s tweet juxtaposed the ratio of lawyers per 240 people in the United States with that of lawyers per 2,500 people in the country.

“In the US, there’s 1 lawyer for every 240 people. In the Philippines, there’s roughly 1 lawyer for every 2,500 people. We do need more scientists, doctors and farmers but we also need more lawyers in the country,” he said.

“Before raining on other people’s parade, check your data first,” he added.

The data he cited can be found in a column that was first published on BusinessWorld on Sept. 16, 2016.

It was re-posted on the website of a public advocacy organization called the Foundation for Economic Freedom.

The column titled “Too Many Lawyers” was written by a lawyer and law professor named Jemy Gatdula.

In the write-up, Gatdula said that as of 2016, there are around 40,000 living lawyers in the Philippines. He also provided context on how less ideal this is in terms of serving the country’s population.

Assuming a population of 100 million Filipinos, Gatdula said that there will only be one lawyer serving 2,500 Filipinos.

“And again remember, not all registered lawyers are engaged in traditional law firm work, so the proportion would be far smaller in reality,” he said.

Carlos’s claim that the country has too many lawyers was also tackled here as an age-old complaint or joke on lawyers or the legal profession.

Other criticisms

Some Filipinos scored the retired professor for seemingly invalidating the dreams of new lawyers.

“Rather than raining on people’s parade, why not encourage young people to take on a different profession other than lawyering? Hindi naman kasalanan ng 8,000+ new lawyers that they wanted to be lawyers,” one Facebook user said.

Lawyer Ryan Balisacan suggested that the professor should work on the ground in regional trial courts and in one public attorney’s office.

“Go down from your ivory tower, Prof. Carlos. Spend just one day observing the QC Hall of Justice, at least one RTC in the province, the NLRC, and at least one PAO district office. THEN say we have no need for more lawyers,” Balisacan said.

Others pointed out that the country equally needs all the professionals she mentioned.

“We need lawyers just as much as we need engineers, doctors, and scientists. What we don’t need are highly opinionated people like you who have a need to be right at the expense of discrediting something or someone’s effort. Sorry,” one Twitter user said.

“But we do need more lawyers who also happen to be scientists, engineers, and doctors too. And educators as well. And novelists. And film directors,” another user tweeted.

The historic 2020/2021 bar examinations produced 8,241 bar passers to take their oaths on May 2. It posted a 72.28% passing rate, the highest so far since the 1954 Bar exams.