Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Am I the Same Girl?

Yes I am, yes I am.

The same girl who wrote the previous posts is also attending the one-week Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Compliance Program being given by the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Law Center Institute of Judicial Administration. The prodigal lawyer is back in her alma mater.

The MCLE is required for members of the Philippine bar, who all have to take 36 units in prescribed courses every compliance period, a cycle of three years. Failure to do so would lead to dire consequences for a lawyer.

For a year and a half, I spent 95% of my time doing non-legal work as I volunteered for a non-stock, non-profit foundation and aside from being corporate secretary, I worked as the National Administrator for Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon. I hardly set foot in the UP College of Law while I was in Lingkod Office.

Last compliance period, I was exempt from the MCLE as I was a court attorney then and as such took the program given by the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA). There were less subjects and hours required. Now I am forced to sit through nine-hour lectures with just a lunch break to look forward to. I cannot bring enough "toys" (gadgets, planners, pocketbooks, etc.) because my "classmates" and I sit in front and I don't want to distract the speakers too much by my movements.

As I am attempting to integrate all the pieces of my life this year- lawyer, Christian, daughter, friend, parishioner, sister, etc. (talk about multiple personalities! No wonder this blog has too many Labels.) - the MCLE more than takes me back in time to a decade ago when I was a law student. Listening to the lectures on different subjects, I cannot help but wonder which field is really for me, where I would make my mark, find my niche, and be considered an expert in someday. I had criminal law background in the Sandiganbayan, corporate law background in the law firm, and a myriad of other interests between those two extremes. In this confused state, I cannot make that decision so easily.

Lawyers network for a living so the first question they ask one another after not being in touch for some time is "Where are you connected now?". Upon learning that I'm not connecting to anything legal (pun intended), they automatically give suggestions as to what I can do - take "junket" trips and short courses given by different foundations and governments, work in law firms, go back to the government, try being in-house counsel, travel the world, get married, etc. I just laugh everything off. If I think too much I would get a headache. It's nice to know there are people who think I have the whole world in my hands, even if I have very seriuos doubts on the matter.

I took a tour of Malcolm Hall last Monday. I visited the Office of Legal Aid, the Law Student Government (LSG) Room, the Student Lounge, and other familiar places. I leaned on one post and prayed to God to please show me how to connect my past to my present and eventually lead me smoothly to my future. They don't make sense right now, all these roles, possibilities, hurts, failures, triumphs, memories, and challenges.

I take it one day at a time. This MCLE week, it is one subject at a time. I leave the future into God's able hands.

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