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55-year-old lawyer father passes Bar exam after 20 years and 6 attempts

By Ratziel San Juan Published Apr 30, 2023 7:00 pm

Attorney Roberto Suarez has recently closed a case that took him well over two decades to win—a case that he took on starting in 1998 and saw his children grow up to fulfill their respective dreams as he chased his own, a case that had an 11-year gap in between as he focused on more urgent priorities. The case of his journey to becoming a lawyer.

The 55-year-old was one of the newly announced lawyers who passed the latest Bar Exams held in November 2022.

He had actually entered Philippine Law School as early as 1998 and graduated in 2002. He would then take the Bar exams in 2003, 2004, and 2006, before taking an 11-year break until his next attempt in 2017. "During that time, I did not have the financial capacity to enroll in a refresher school to enable me to take the Bar again," Roberto tells PhilSTAR L!fe.

The breadwinner took on various jobs to support his family during this time. He saved up, meanwhile, to take the required refresher for four-time-and-above Bar takers.

@sassykath Sharing the 20-year journey of my father before passing the November 2022 bar exam. So proud of him! May attorney na kami! 🥺💕 #barexam2022 #getthatbar2022 #attorney #lawyer #fyp #fypシ #xyzbca #caguiwowbar2022 #viral #viralvideo ♬ The Good Part - AJR

More recently, he found an opportunity to enter the legal profession between his fourth (2017) and fifth (2019) exam attempts. He did legal work for the Malolos City, Bulacan, Regional Trial Court Branch 82 under presiding judge Maria Maruja P. Narvaiza-Mendoza for just over a year starting in 2018, and resigned to prepare for the Bar exams in 2019.

After his last unsuccessful attempt, Roberto applied and was accepted as a Court Decongestion Officer at the Santa Maria, Bulacan Municipal Trial Court. Here, his primary duty was to draft court decisions, resolutions, and orders—on top of conducting an inventory of cases.

He would continue serving his role until he took a two-week leave of absence prior to his final and successful Bar try.

"I had little time to prepare for the November 2022 Bar exams as I was working full-time at the Sta. Maria, Bulacan Municipal Trial Court. Judge Edmond needed my presence as I was the only law graduate working in the court. There were so many cases that needed to be decided and the motions of the litigants that needed to be resolved," Robert recalls.

Yet he proved triumphant.

All in all, Roberto took six attempts to receive the respected title of attorney. His law journey took around 25 years starting from his law school days.

"Passing the Bar, I believe, is more difficult. In law school, you only need to study a particular subject matter and pass the exams on that subject. For the Bar exams, you need to study all the subjects you have studied in law school," Roberto tells L!fe.

What was it that he did differently on his sixth attempt? According to him, this time he finally cited the case title or article number, or the section of a particular law he thought applied to the particular Bar question.

"To pass the Bar Exams, the answers must have a legal basis to support your answer," Roberto explained.

Needless to say, his test was answered successfully as were his prayers.

"I believed that what made it possible to pass the November Bar Exams was the ardent prayer... I held on and had faith that our Holy Mother will fulfill her 11th promise, which is by the recitation of the Rosary, 'You shall obtain all that you ask of me,'" Robert attests.

Beyond his faith based on religion, he also emphasized having faith in oneself.

"My advice to those who have already given up on their dreams is to think about why they wanted to pursue their dreams in the first place. For me, it is for my family that I wanted to accomplish my dream of becoming a lawyer," Roberto gives as an example.

He closes his case with a firm resolution for those who similarly wish to pursue and persist with their passions.

"Everyone deserves to follow their dreams. We owe it to ourselves to follow them whatever it may cost. We must achieve our dreams and when we finally do, it will make us happy once and for all. There are only two things that can prevent one from becoming a lawyer: if you stop taking the Bar, and if you die," he said.