The University of Saint La Salle (USLS) – Bacolod kicked off this week its legal aid services to be handled by Law Student Practitioners (LSP) as the first batch of LSPs were officially presented before Executive Judge Raymond Joseph Javier of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Negros Occidental Chapter.
Thirty-three (33) LSPs are currently undergoing training and capacity-building as part of the Clinical Legal Education and Legal Aid Program of the USLS Law Center (ULC) under the College of Law.
The Clinical Legal Education Program (CLEP) is mandated by the Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule as provided in the Rules of Court, which was revised further by the Supreme Court en banc, on June 25, 2019, adopting and promulgating A.M. No. 19-03-24-SC Rule 138-A Law Student Practice, otherwise known as the Revised Law Student Practice Rule (Revised Rule). The Revised Rule is an amendment to the existing provisions of Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court. A salient feature of the Revised Rule is that a law student must now be certified to be able to engage in the limited practice of law.
Under the Revised Rule, a law student shall apply for and secure a Level 1 or 2 Certification, in order to be permitted to engage in any of the activities under the Clinical Legal Education Program of a law school. The basic distinction between the two levels involve the minimum academic requirement the law student has successfully completed: for Level 1 Certification – first-year law courses, while for Level 2 Certification – third-year law courses.
Thirty three laws students comprise the first batch of LSPs from USLS, all of whom have been given Level 1 Certification, namely:
- ABALAJON, Laila Marie Posadas
- BARTOLOME, Joevel Asigurado
- BE, Stephanie Anne Coo
- BELLO, Mikail Lee Rosales
- BONGCO, Lotus Mae Gayanilo
- CHIN, Christien Derrick Rosario
- COSTINIANO, Ernalin Garanganao
- DIAZ, Gabrielle Martina Lizares
- DIGNOS, Laisha Marie Vergara
- DIOCARES, Febe Ruth Redil
- ENCARNACION, Mitzi Caryl Tolimao
- GAMO, John Emmer Sulit
- GO, Richthofen Jrich Alipala
- GROMEA, Jarre Villarta
- GUANZON, Joan Pauline Genogaling
- HIGGINS, Ma. Isabel Elumba
- LACSON, Gabriel Christian Jo
- LAPORE, Zairo Delgado
- MATTI, Vanessa Joy Gustilo
- OMANDAC, Reynaldo Jr. Arsenio
- ONGSUCO, Anne Mary Louise Lobusta
- ORBISTA, Bobby Rommel Jr. Salondaguit
- PABON, Justin Eric Teovisio
- PANDAN, Ralph Chrisol Ramos
- PELLANO, Sasha Raisa Nuñeza
- RESULA, Ricca Joy Mercurio
- ROA, Keziah Joy Canlas
- ROSALES, Jose Maria II Decena
- SANCHEZ, Nelie France Suerto
- SANTIAGO, May Hope Diotay
- SENADRE, Crystine Jaye Nodado
- SOCUACO, Lea Dessa Alagos
- SUELO, Jan Jireh Palo
Last November 19, 2021, 33 Juris Doctor (JD) students of USLS took their oath of office as LSPs administered by RTC Executive Judge Joseph Raymond Javier. These law students currently possess a Level 1 Certification allowing a limited practice of law under the guidance of accredited supervising lawyers.
USLS Law Dean Rosanne Gonzaga says the program focuses on the shared responsibility of the law school and the volunteer supervising lawyers to assist students in developing the skills and values required for practice-ready and ethical lawyers wherein the lessons learned in the classroom are translated into meaningful and life-changing action in the real world.
The CLEP is an experiential, interactive and reflective credit-earning course in the JD curriculum with the objectives of providing law students with practical knowledge, skills and values necessary for the application of law, and the delivery of legal services aimed at promoting social justice and public interest, especially to the marginalized and underserved sector of our community, while inculcating the values of ethical lawyering and public service.
The learning activities covered by Rule 138-A shall be carried out in two ways, first, through the USLS Law Center, and second, through an externship program with the Courts, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), government offices and agencies, and school-recognized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide legal services to its clients.
Lawyer and ULC Director Johnnil Fatima Acero, an alumna of the USLS College of Law, shared the a brief explanation of the basic legal services which may be offered by certified LSPs and also named the first batch of supervising lawyers to include Jocelle Batapa Sigue (Clinical Professor), Leanne Mari Torrato, Hazelmer Fernandez and Bebelan Madera.
Executive Judge Javier welcomed this development and congratulated the USLS College of Law for its effort in addressing the need for accessible legal services and recognizes the USLS Law Center’s vital role in contributing to the administration of justice.
IBP President Josephine Natalaray said that the Office of Legal Aid is willing to provide training and assistance to LSPs to promote practice-based learning and to expose them to pro bono cases and other advocacies of the IBP.
The launching ceremony was witness by USLS Br. Normady Dujunco FSC, Vice Chancellor for Mission and Development, members of the Judiciary and court staff, Officers and members of the IBP, colleagues in the legal profession and civilian members of the community present.
Written By Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue with Dean Rosanne Gonzaga