#AnimatED: Misplaced rooting for lawyers
Lawyers in the Philippines have increased by more than a thousand, as results of the 2014 bar exams were announced last week. That brings their total roster to over 40,000, going by the figures of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a mandatory-membership organization.
The public and media frenzy over bar results shows how we bestow almost rock-star status to lawyers. We only feel and see a fraction of this over results of other professional exams.
We gloss over topnotchers in engineering, and their specializations vary, from civil, chemical, and metallurgical to mechanical engineers.
We pay little attention to those who make it as chemists, geologists and environmental planners.
If we go by the numbers, we have more engineers than lawyers, one estimate placing the figure at 100,000, at least.
So why this over-the-top attention to lawyers?
Here’s one explanation. We have a bias for lawyers – or do we romanticize them? – because many end up as our leaders.
Justin D.J. Sucgang, a member of the Legal Education Board, wrote in his thesis at the De La Salle College of Law that often, members of the legal profession “form part of an elite segment in the Filipino society,” counting among them the “country’s movers and shakers, especially in public service.”
He cites these statistics: 8 out of 15 Philippine presidents were lawyers, same with 19 of 22 Senate presidents, and 19 of 20 House speakers.
In the current Senate, 9 out of 24 are lawyers (and one is in jail). In the cabinet of President Aquino, about a third are lawyers (8 out of 27).
But are we better off, really, with lawyers at the helm of our institutions? Shouldn’t we vote into office people who will implement laws rather than fiddle with them?
In fighting corruption, one of our weaknesses is that we have “too many laws,” as pointed out by the Asian Development Bank, and “too many agencies [dealing with corruption]…”
In a way, we emulate the US where lawyers are prevalent in their ruling elite.
It’s time to take a leaf from China. President Xi Jinping is a chemical engineer and his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin were a hydraulic engineer and electrical engineer, respectively.
The engineer’s mindset leans more on building structures, finding solutions so that these work rather than argue over principles and quibble over words, which lawyers thrive on. And, after all this, they proceed with caution for fear of court suits – but that’s another story.
In the months ahead, professional examinations for engineers are scheduled to take place. Anyone’s excited? – Rappler.com