Philippine Bar Examination

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Philippine Bar Examination
Type Bar examination
Developer / administrator Supreme Court Bar Examination Committee
Knowledge / skills testedUnderstanding of the basic principles of law and of relevant jurisprudence
Purpose Admission to practice law
Year started1901 (1901)
OfferedFour Sundays of November of every year (Held every four Sundays of September until 2010)
Restrictions on attempts
  • 75% passing average with no grade lower than 50% in any subject
  • Candidates who have failed the bar exams for three times are not permitted to take another bar exam until they re-enroll and pass regular fourth-year review classes and attend a pre-bar review course in an approved law school
Countries / regionsPhilippines
Annual number of test takersDecrease2.svg 7,699 (in 2019) [1]
Prerequisites / eligibility criteriasee Admission requirements
Qualification rate20–30% average passing rate
Website Supreme Court Bar Admissions

The Philippine Bar Examination is the professional licensure examination for lawyers in the Philippines. The exam is exclusively administered by the Supreme Court of the Philippines through the Supreme Court Bar Examination Committee. [2]

Contents

Brief history

The first Philippine Bar Exams was conducted in 1901 with only 13 examinees. The third Philippine Bar Exam took place in 1903 but the results were released in 1905. José I. Quintos obtained the highest rating of 96.33%, Sergio Osmeña, Sr. was second with 95.66%, F. Salas was third with 94.5% and Manuel L. Quezon fourth with 87.83%. The first bar exam in 1901 has only 13 examinees, while the 2008 bar examination is the 107th (given per Article 8, Section 5, 1987 Constitution). After the 1903 exam, rankings were again avoided until the 1913 exam, which meant that every other year from the inaugural 1901 examination to 1912 no scores were given other than pass or fail. The 2016 bar exam had the highest number of passers 3747 out of 6344 (59.06 percent) examinees, However, the Supreme Court of the Philippines' Office of the Bar Confidant announced that (a new and official record of) 7,227 candidates will take the 2017 Bar examinations. [3]

Past Bar examinations were conducted every September at De La Salle University, however, due to security concerns after the 2010 Philippine Bar exam bombing, The Supreme Court moved the examinations to University of Santo Tomas every November.

The most notable was the 1999 bar examinations which recorded the lowest passing rate of 16.59% or with a total number of 660 successful examinees. Also, the 2003 bar exam was marred by controversy when the Court ordered a retake of the Mercantile law due to questionnaire leakage. [4] In 2005, the High Tribunal implemented the "five-strike" rule, which disqualifies five-time flunkers from taking future bar exams. [5]

Admission requirements

A bar candidate must meet the following academic qualifications:

He or she should also meet certain non-academic requisites: [8]

In March 2010 the Philippine Supreme Court Issued Bar Matter 1153 amending provisions in sec 5 and 6 of rule 138 of the rules of court now allowing Filipino foreign law school graduates to take the bar exam provided that they comply with the following: a. completion of all courses leading to a degree of Bachelor of laws or its equivalent b. recognition or accreditation of the law school by proper authority c. completion of all fourth year subjects in a program of a law school duly accredited by the Philippine Government d. present proof of completing a separate bachelor's degree

Committee of Bar Examiners

The Supreme Court appoints memberships in the Committee of Bar Examiners, the official task force for formulating bar exam questions, instituting policy directives, executing procedures, grading bar examination papers, and releasing the results of the annual bar examination. [9]

The committee is chaired by an incumbent Justice of the Supreme Court, who is designated by the Supreme Court to serve for a term of one year. The members of the committee includes eight members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, who also hold office for a term of one year. [9] While the Justice who shall act as chairman is immediately known, committee members must exert every effort to conceal their identities until the oath-taking of the successful bar examinees, approximately six months after the bar exam. [9]

YearBar Exam Chairperson
2001 Associate Justice Sabino De Leon Jr.
2002 Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza
2003 Associate Justice Jose Vitug
2004 Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing
2005 Associate Justice Romeo Callejo Sr.
2006 Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez
2007 Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna
2008 Associate Justice Dante Tiñga
2009 Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura
2010 Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales
2011 Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad
2012 Associate Justice Martin Villarama
2013 Associate Justice Arturo Brion
2014 Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta
2015 Associate Justice Teresita de Castro
2016 Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.
2017 Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin
2018 Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo
2019 Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe
2020Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021 Associate Justice Marvic Leonen

Bar review programs

Candidates who meet all the admission requirements usually enroll in special review classes after graduating from law school. These programs are held from April to September in law schools, colleges, universities, and review centers.

Program schedule, content, and delivery differs from one review program to another. Lecturers in these programs are called bar reviewers. They are usually full-time professors and part-time professorial lecturers in law schools and universities. Most review programs invite incumbent and retired justices and high ranking public officials both as a marketing tool and as a program innovation. [10]

Coverage

Bar examinations is conducted during all four Sundays of the month of November. Two bar subjects shall be taken every week, one is scheduled in the morning while another is in the afternoon. The examination covers the following topics and their associated subtopic, popularly known as the bar subjects: [11]

Grading system

The eight bar subjects are separately graded. Each subject contributes to the general average in the following proportion: [12]

SubjectWeight'
Civil Law15%
Labor Law and Social Legislation10%
Mercantile Law15%
Criminal Law10%
Political and International Law15%
Taxation10%
Remedial Law20%
Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises5%

The passing average fixed by law is 75%, with no grade falling below 50% in any bar subject. [12]

Passing average vs. Passing rate

The passing average is the minimum grade in the exam required to be admitted to the practice of law. The passing rate is the proportion of total number of bar passers in relation to the total number of bar examinees. It is usually computed on two levels—the national level (national bar passing rate), and the law school level (law school passing rate).

In the past, passing averages were considerably lower to admit more new lawyers (i.e. 69% in 1947, 69.45% in 1946, 70% in 1948). Since 1982, the passing average has been fixed at 75%. This has led to a dramatic decrease in the national passing rate of bar examinees, from an all-time high of 75.17% in 1954 to an all-time low of 16.59% in 1999 (all-time low should have been the single digit 5% national passing rate for the 2007 bar examination if the Supreme Court did not lower the passing average to 70% and lowered the disqualification rate in 3 subjects). In recent years, the annual national bar passing rate ranges from 20% to 30%. [13]

Law school passing rates

The most recent ranking (December 2015) for the top ten law schools in the Philippines by the Legal Education Board is based on the cumulative performance of law schools in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Bar Examinations. The list only included law schools which had 20 or more examinees: [14]

  1. University of the Philippines (10%)
  2. Ateneo de Manila University (9%)
  3. San Beda College-Manila (8%)
  4. University of San Carlos (7%)
  5. Ateneo de Davao University (6%)
  6. University of Santo Tomas (5%)
  7. University of Cebu (4%)
  8. San Beda College-Alabang (3%)
  9. Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (2%)
  10. Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (1%)

Role of the Supreme Court, Criticisms

In 2007, only 5% (of the 5,626 who took the 2007 tests, or less than 300) got the passing grade of 75%. Thus, the Supreme Court adjusted the standard to 70% and the disqualification rate in 3 subjects (civil, labor and criminal law) from 50 to 45%. Accordingly, 1,289 or 22.91%, "passed." This passing grade reduction is highly unusual, since it last happened in the 1981 exam when the passing grade was lowered to 72.5%. Prior to 1982, the passing mark jumped unpredictably from year to year: 69.45 percent in 1946; 69 in 1947; 70 in 1948, 1963, 1972 and 1974; 71 in 1961; 71.5 in 1953, 1964 and 1965; 72 in 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1967; 72.5 in 1954, 1962 and 1981; 73 in 1950, 1956, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1975, 1978 and 1980; 73.5 in 1955 and 1979; 74 in 1949, 1951, 1952, 1966, 1971, 1973 and 1977; and 74.5 in 1976. In 1954, the Court lowered the passing grade to 72.5%, even if the passing percentage was already at its highest at 75.17%. In 1999, moves to lower the passing grade to 74% failed, after Justice Fidel Purisima, bar committee chairman failed to disclose that his nephew took the examination. He was censured and his honoraria was reduced to half. [15]

Increasing difficulty

The difficulty of the recent bar examinations, compared to exams of the past, can be attributed to the following factors: [13]

After the end of the Second World War, the passing rate in the succeeding years was remarkably high, ranging from 56 to 72% percent. However, after Associate Justice J.B.L. Reyes, a noted scholar, was appointed Chairman of the 1955 Bar Examinations, the passing rate for that year dropped dramatically to 26.8%, with a mortality rate of 73.2%. That ratio has been invariably maintained in the 50+ years since. [19]

Waiting period

The largely essay-type exams are manually checked by members of the Committee of Bar Examiners. Candidates have to wait from the last Sunday of the bar exams in September up to the date of the release of results, which traditionally happens before or during the Holy Week (the last week of March or the first week of April) of the following year.

During this period, candidates (who already hold law and bachelor's degrees) may opt to work in law firms and courts as legal researchers, teach in liberal arts and business colleges, function in companies and organizations using their pre-law degrees (i.e. Communication Arts, Accounting, Economics, Journalism, etc.), help run the family business, or take a long vacation. [20]

Admission of successful bar examinees

The Office of the Bar Confidant of the Philippine Supreme Court releases the Official List of Successful Bar Examinees, usually during the last week of March or the first week of April of every year. Candidates whose names appear in the list are required to take and subscribe before the Supreme Court the corresponding Oath of Office. [21]

Candidates shall take an Oath of Office and sign their names in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. [22] The oath-taking is usually held in May at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) with a formal program where all Justices of the Supreme Court, sitting en banc, formally approve the applications of the successful bar candidates. The eight bar examiners are officially introduced to the public. A message to the newly inducted lawyers is delivered by one of the justices. Candidates who made the bar top ten list are also introduced and honored. The deans of all Philippine law schools are requested to attend the ceremony and grace the front seats of the plenary hall. [11]

Controversies

In the 1930s, a distant relative of Imelda Romualdez Marcos who was a Justice in the High Court resigned after a controversy involving the bar examinations.[ clarification needed ] Justice Ramon Fernandez was forced to protect his name and honor when he resigned because of a bar examination scandal. [23]

On November 23, 1979, the High Court, per Justice Pacifico de Castro ordered new examinations in labor and social legislation and taxation.

On May 7, 1982, 12 of the Supreme Court's 14 justices resigned amid expose "that the court fixed the bar-examination score of a member's son so that he would pass." Justice Vicente Ericta was accused to have personally approached the bar chairman to inquire whether his (Ericta's) son passed the bar. Ferdinand Marcos accepted the resignations and appointed new justices. Chief Justice Enrique Fernando wept at a news conference as he accepted responsibility for rechecking and changing the exam score of Gustavo Ericta, son of Justice Vicente Ericta. [24]

Associate Justice Fidel Purisima, chairman of the bar committee, did not disclose that he had a nephew who was taking the bar examination in that year. He was merely censured and his honoraria as bar examiner were forfeited.

On September 24, 2003, the Supreme Court, per a bleary-eyed Associate Justice Jose Vitug, annulled the tests results on mercantile law after "confirmation of what could be the most widespread case of cheating in the 104-year-old bar exams". [25]

Bar topnotchers

Bar topnotchers are bar examinees who garnered the highest bar exam grades in a particular year. Every year, the Supreme Court releases the bar top ten list. The list contains the names of bar examinees who obtained the ten highest grades. It is possible for more than ten examinees to place in the top ten because numerical ties in the computation of grades usually occur. [26]

From 1913 to 2019, schools which have produced bar topnotchers (1st placers) are as follows: [26]

Two bar examinees topped the bar exams without officially graduating from any Philippine law school: [26]

In the past, non-law school graduates were allowed to take the bar. However, the Revised Rules of Court and Supreme Court Circulars allow Filipino graduates of Philippine law schools (and subject to certain conditions, Filipino graduates of foreign law schools) to take the bar, necessarily excluding non-law graduates and foreigners who have law degrees from taking part in the exercise. [6]

While not a guarantee for topping the bar, academic excellence in law school is a good indicator of an examinee's fortune in the bar exams. Ateneo Law School's only summa cum laude graduate, Claudio Teehankee, placed number one in the 1940 Bar Exams. [26] It is worth noting that Teehankee's son, Manuel Antonio, followed in his footsteps by graduating at the top of his Ateneo Law School class (albeit, not as summa cum laude) and placing first in the 1983 bar exams. Claudio's nephew, Enrique (a cum laude graduate from the UP College of Law), also placed number one in the 1976 bar exams. Claudio eventually became Supreme Court Chief Justice, Manuel was formerly Department of Justice Undersecretary and Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland while Enrique is a successful private practitioner.

This father-son-nephew feat has yet to (and, perhaps, may never) be equalled in the annals of Philippine Bar. For siblings, the closest is when Manuel B. Zamora, Jr. placed third in the 1961 Bar Exams and younger brother Ronaldo placed first in the 1969 Bar Exams.

The UST Faculty of Civil Law's sole summa cum laude graduate, Roberto B. Concepcion, placed first in the 1924 Bar Exams. [26] He later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The San Beda College [32] of Law's sole magna cum laude graduate, Florenz Regalado, [33] ranked 1st in the 1954 Bar exams with a mark of 96.70%. The record is the highest average in the Philippine Bar Examinations, to date. Regalado later served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

The UP College of Law (which has yet to produce a summa cum laude graduate) had five of its seventeen magna cum laude graduates (the College of Law first conferred the honor to Rafael Dinglasan in 1925 and, to date, last conferred the same honor to Dionne Marie Sanchez in 2007) place number one in their respective bar exams: Rafael Dinglasan in 1925, Lorenzo Sumulong in 1929, Deogracias Eufemio in 1962, Roberto San Jose in 1966 and Ronaldo Zamora in 1969. [26] Dinglasan became a Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Sumulong became Senator of the Republic and a renowned statesman, Eufemio and San Jose established their respective successful private law practices while Zamora became Executive Secretary to then President Joseph Estrada and is currently the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives.

Bar Topnotchers List

The Office of the Bar Confidant releases an official Bar Topnotchers list together with the list of names of all successful bar examinees. The Bar Topnotchers list contains the names of the candidates who garnered the highest general averages in the bar exam for that year. The highest ranking candidate in the list is known as the bar topnotcher. The list has always been the subject of much media attention and public speculation. [34]

Making a place in the list is widely regarded as an important life achievement, an attractive professional qualification, and a necessary improvement in a lawyer's professional and social status. [34]

Below is a listing of all 106 first-placers (from 1913 to 2019) and can be rearranged from highest to lowest in terms of rating obtained. Bar ratings are not exactly comparable from year-to-year as the difficulty of the exams varies through the years. Two bar examinations took place in 1946, first in August to cover the absence of the examination the previous year and in November for the present year. There was a tie in first place in two occasions – in 1944 and in 1999.

YearNameAverageSchoolHometownPassing Percentage [35]
1901
1902
1903Jose L. Quintos96.33Escuela de Derecho Baliuag, Bulacan 30.76% (4 out of 13) [36]
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913 Manuel A. Roxas 92 University of the Philippines Roxas City, Capiz
1914Manuel C. Goyena93 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
1915Francisco Villanueva, Jr.90 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
1916 Paulino Gullas 93 University of the Philippines Cebu City, Cebu
1917Felipe Ysmael92 University of the Philippines Iloilo City, Iloilo
1918Alejo Labrador87 University of the Philippines San Narciso, Zambales
1919Gregorio Anonas87 Philippine Law School Iba, Zambales
1920Adolfo Brillantes84.1Escuela de Derecho Bangued, Abra
1921Pablo C. Payawal89.1 University of the Philippines San Miguel, Bulacan
1922Amando L. Velilla89.1 University of the Philippines Balasan, Iloilo
1923 Roque V. Desquitado 90.9 University of the Philippines Bantayan, Cebu
1924 Roberto R. Concepcion 89.1 University of Santo Tomas Manila, Metro Manila
1925Rafael Dinglasan91.1 University of the Philippines Roxas City, Capiz
1926Eugeniano Perez88.1 Philippine Law School Mandaue, Cebu
1927 Cesar Kintanar 87.7 University of the Philippines Argao, Cebu
1928Filomeno B. Pascual90.3 Philippine Law School Sagay, Negros Occidental
1929 Lorenzo S. Sumulong 92.5 University of the Philippines Antipolo, Rizal
1930 Tecla San Andres 89.4 University of the Philippines Naga, Camarines Sur
1931Jose N. Leuterio89.4 University of the Philippines Boac, Marinduque
1932 Hermenegildo Atienza 93 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
1933Lope C. Quimbo92.45 University of Manila Calbiga, Samar
1934Marciano P. Catral89.7 Philippine Law School Luna, Isabela
1935Enrique Estrellado91.7 University of the Philippines San Pablo, Laguna
1936 Diosdado P. Macapagal 89.85 University of Santo Tomas Lubao, Pampanga
1937 Cecilia Muñoz-Palma 92.6 University of the Philippines Bauan, Batangas
1938 Emmanuel Pelaez 91.3 University of Manila Medina, Misamis Oriental
1939 Ferdinand E. Marcos 92.35 University of the Philippines Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
1940 Claudio Teehankee 94.35 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila
1941Emmet P.D. Shea90.2 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
1942-1943
Cancelled due to World War II
1944 Jovito R. Salonga 95.3 University of the Philippines Pasig, Metro Manila
Jose W. Diokno Special Dispensation (non-degree holder) (University of Santo Tomas undergraduate) Manila, Metro Manila
1945
Cancelled due to Post-war Rehabilitation
1946Gregoria T. Cruz – (August 1946)92.25 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 46.63% (97 out of 208)
Pedro L. Yap(November 1946)91.7 University of the Philippines San Isidro, Leyte 56.69% (271 out of 478)
1947 Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera 93.85 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 59.87% (428 out of 755)
1948Manuel G. Montecillo95.5 Far Eastern University Liliw, Laguna 62.26% (561 out of 901)
1949Anacleto C. Mañgaser95.85 Philippine Law School Caba, La Union56.14% (686 out of 1,222)
1950 Carolina C. Griño 92.05Special (Colegio de San Agustin and University of the Philippines) Leganes, Iloilo 31.92% (423 out of 1,325)
1951Vicente R. Acsay92.25 University of Manila Bugasong, Antique 57.19% (1.189 out of 2,079)
1952Pedro Samson C. Animas94.25 University of the Philippines Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental 62.02% (1,705 out of 2,749)
1953Leonardo A. Amores94.05 University of Manila Roxas City, Capiz 72.42% (1,851 out of 2,556)
1954 Florenz D. Regalado 96.7 San Beda College Concepcion, Iloilo75.17% (2,409 out of 3,206)
1955Tomas P. Matic, Jr.90.55 Far Eastern University Concepcion, Tarlac27.29% (815 out of 2,987)
1956Francisco C. Catral90.2 San Beda College Lal-lo, Cagayan 62.60% (2,283 out of 3,647)
1957Gregorio R. Castillo89.15 University of the Philippines Buhi, Camarines Sur19.77% (615 out of 3,110)
1958Manuel G. Abello89.25 University of the Philippines Isabela, Negros Occidental21.97% (868 out of 3,951)
1959Agustin O. Benitez89.2 Far Eastern University Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte 21.21% (796 out of 3,754)
1960Ismael Andres91.7 Manuel L. Quezon University Looc, Romblon39.9% (1,667 out of 4,178)
1961Avelino V. Cruz90.95 San Beda College Pasig, Metro Manila 19.34 (845 out of 4,370)
1962Deogracias G. Eufemio90.8 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 19.4% (899 out of 4,635)
1963Cornelio C. Gison86.35 Ateneo de Manila University Arevalo, Iloilo City22.26% (1,213 out of 5,453)
1964Jesus P. Castelo88.4 San Beda College San Isidro, Nueva Ecija25.09% (902 out of 3,596)
1965Victor S. de la Serna89.8 San Beda College Tagbilaran, Bohol 32.66% (642 out of 1,965)
1966Roberto V. San Jose90.6 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 36.71% (715 out of 1,947)
1967 Rodolfo D. Robles 89.6 San Beda College Tiaong, Quezon 22.8% (411 out of 1,803)
1968Oscar B. Glovasa87.45 Divine Word College of Tagbilaran Cogon, Tagbilaran, Bohol 21.11% (347 out of 1,643)
1969 Ronaldo B. Zamora 87.3 University of the Philippines Calumpit, Bulacan 28.6 (495 out of 1,731)
1970Romulo D. San Juan87.5 Far Eastern University San Jacinto, Masbate27.9% (491 out of 1,761)
1971 Henry R. Villarica 92.4 University of the Philippines Meycauayan, Bulacan 33.84% (621 out of 1,835)
1972Januario B. Soller, Jr.87.13 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 26.68% (509 out of 1,907)
1973Vicente R. Solis90.3 Ateneo de Manila University Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur 37.4% (610 out of 1,631)
1974 Arturo D. Brion 91.65 Ateneo de Manila University San Pablo, Laguna 35.02% (685 out of 1,956)
1975Nicanor B. Padilla, Jr.86.7 University of the East Cebu City, Cebu 35.18% (686 out of 1,950)
1976Enrique Y. Teehankee90.8 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 49.77% (926 out of 1,979)
1977Virgilio B. Gesmundo91.8 Ateneo de Manila University San Pablo, Laguna 60.56% (1,038 out of 1,714)
1978Cosme D. Rosell92.475 University of the Philippines Daanbantayan, Cebu56.93% (1,076 out of 1,890)
1979Gregorio M. Batiller, Jr.91.4 Ateneo de Manila University Davao City, Davao del Sur 49.51% (903 out of 1,824)
1980Rafael R. Lagos89.75 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 33.61% (605 out of 1,800)
1981Irene Ragodon-Guevarra90.95 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 43.71% (787 out of 1,800)
1982Ray C. Espinosa90.95 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 20.5% (432 out of 2,112)
1983Manuel Antonio J. Teehankee91.4 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 21.3% (523 out of 2,455)
1984Richard M. Chiu92.85 Ateneo de Manila University Dumaguete, Negros Oriental 25.55% (638 out of 2,497)
1985Janette Susan L. Peña89.4 University of the Philippines San Juan, Metro Manila25.78% (701 out of 2,719)
1986Laurence L. Go88.6 Ateneo de Manila University Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur 18.88% (493 out of 2,609)
1987Mario P. Victoriano88.55 Ateneo de Manila University Dumaguete, Negros Oriental 17.90 (480 out of 2,682)
1988Maria Yvette O. Navarro88.12 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 24.40% (689 out of 2,824)
1989 Gilberto Eduardo Gerardo C. Teodoro, Jr. 86.185 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 21.26% (639 out of 3,006)
1990 Aquilino L. Pimentel III 89.85 University of the Philippines Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental 27.94% (866 out of 3,100)
1991Joseph P. San Pedro89.95 Ateneo de Manila University Malolos, Bulacan 17.81% (569 out of 3,194)
1992Jayme A. Sy, Jr.87 Ateneo de Manila University Sagay, Negros Occidental 17.25% (499 out of 2,892)
1993Anna Leah Fidelis T. Castañeda88.325 Ateneo de Manila University Manila, Metro Manila 21.65% (725 out of 3,348)
1994Francisco Noel R. Fernandez89.2 University of the Philippines Butuan, Agusan del Norte 30.87% (1,030 out of 3,337)
1995Leonor Y. Dicdican91.2 University of the Philippines Davao City, Davao del Sur 30.90% (987 out of 3,194)
1996Patricia-Ann T. Prodigalidad90.6 University of the Philippines Brooklyn, New York, US31.21% (1,217 out of 3,900)
1997Ma. Cecilia H. Fernandez90.025 University of the Philippines Makati, Metro Manila 18.11% (710 out of 3,921)
1998 Janet B. Abuel 91.8 Baguio Colleges Foundation Dagupan, Pangasinan 39.63% (1,465 out of 3,697)
1999Edwin R. Enrile88.5 Ateneo de Manila University Naga, Camarines Sur16.59% (660 out of 3,978)
Florin T. Hilbay University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila
2000Eliseo M. Zuñiga, Jr.90.6 University of the Philippines Mandaluyong, Metro Manila 20.84% (979 out of 4,698)
2001Rodolfo Ma. A. Ponferrada93.8 University of the Philippines Quezon City, Metro Manila 32.895 (1,266 out of 3,849)
2002Arlene M. Maneja92.9 University of Santo Tomas Quezon City, Metro Manila 19.86% (917 out of 4,659)
2003Aeneas Eli S. Diaz88.53 Ateneo de Manila University Sorsogon City, Sorsogon 20.71% (1,108 out of 5,349)
2004January A. Sanchez87.45 University of the Philippines Santa Maria, Bulacan31.61% (1,659 out of 5,249)
2005Joan A. De Venecia87.2 University of the Philippines Dagupan, Pangasinan 27.22% (1,526 out of 5,607)
2006Noel Neil Q. Malimban87.6 University of the Cordilleras Baguio, Benguet 30.6% (1,893 out of 6,187)
2007Mercedita L. Ona83.55 Ateneo de Manila University San Jose, Batangas22. 91% (1,289 out of 5,626)
2008Judy A. Lardizabal85.7 San Sebastian College Imus, Cavite 20.58 (1,310 out of 6.364)
2009Reinier Paul R. Yebra84.8 San Beda College Daet, Camarines Norte 24.58% (1,451 out of 5,093)
2010Cesareo Antonio S. Singzon Jr.89 Ateneo de Manila University Catbalogan, Samar 20.26% (982 out of 4,847)
2011Raoul Angelo D. Atadero85.536 Ateneo de Manila University Quezon City, Metro Manila 31.95& (1,913 out of 5,987)
2012Ignatius Michael D. Ingles85.64 Ateneo de Manila University Quezon City, Metro Manila 17.76% (949 out of 5,343 )
2013Nielson G. Pangan85.8 University of the Philippines Manila, Metro Manila 22.18% (1,174 out of 5,293)
2014Irene Mae B. Alcobilla85.5 San Beda College San Remigio, Antique18.82% (1,126 out of 5,984)
2015Rachel Angeli B. Miranda87.4 University of the Philippines Quezon City, Metro Manila 26.21% (1,731 out of 7,146)
2016Karen Mae L. Calam89.05 University of San Carlos Kalilangan, Bukidnon 59.06% (3,747 out of 6,344)
2017Mark John M. Simondo91.05 University of St. La Salle Bacolod, Negros Occidental 25.55% (1,724 out of 6,748)
2018Sean James Borja89.306 Ateneo de Manila University Muntinlupa, Metro Manila 22.07% (1,800 out of 8,155)
2019Mae Diane Azores91.049 University of Santo Tomas–Legazpi Legazpi City, Albay 27.36% (2,103 out of 7,699)
2020
Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic [37]

Highest and lowest topnotcher grades

A standard was created in 1940, when Claudio Teehankee (future Supreme Court Chief Justice), from the Ateneo Law School, got a grade of 94.35% when he topped the examinations. This record was obliterated four years later in 1944 when Jovito Salonga and Jose W. Diokno tied with the highest score of 95.3%. This was the first time that first place ended in a tie. When they took the 1944 Bar Exams, Atty. Salonga was an undergraduate at the UP College of Law while Atty. Diokno (future Senator) was an undergraduate of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law. After passing the bar, Atty. Salonga (future Senate President) went back to UP to complete his bachelor's degree in law, earning it in 1946. The only other instance of a tie at first place of the bar exams was when Edwin Enrile (salutatorian of his Ateneo Law School class) and Florin Hilbay (an honor student of the UP College of Law) both garnered the same score in 1999. Atty. Enrile served as Deputy Executive Secretary to President Gloria Arroyo and as a Professorial Lecturer at the Ateneo Law School while Atty. Hilbay is a Professor of Law at the UP College of Law and the current Solicitor General. [27] After another four years, the "bar" was raised a few notches when Manuel G. Montecillo of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law got a grade of 95.50% when he bested all the bar examinees of 1948. The following year, another record was set when Anacleto C. Mañgaser, an alumnus of the Philippine Law School, got a grade of 95.85% when he topped the 1949 bar exams.

The lowest grade was obtained by Ateneo Law School's Mercedita L. Ona, 83.55%, 2007, which erased the prior record of 84.10%, obtained by Adolfo Brillantes of Escuela de Derecho de Manila (now Manila Law College Foundation) in 1920. [26] [38] Atty. Ona was the just the latest of women first placers. In 1930, Tecla San Andres (an alumna of the UP College of Law and future Senator) broke the proverbial "glass ceiling" when she became the first woman to top the bar with a grade of 89.4%. Ameurfina A. Melencio (also an alumna of the UP College of Law and who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court) has the highest grade of all female bar topnotchers in recorded history, when she obtained a 93.85% rating in 1947.

Famous bar topnotchers

Prominent lawyers who made the bar top ten include: [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48]

Presidents and Vice-Presidents

Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Justices

  • José Yulo – 6th Philippine Chief Justice; 3rd placer, 1913 Bar Exams (UP College of Law)
  • Ricardo Paras – 8th Philippine Chief Justice; 2nd placer, 1913 Bar Exams (UP College of Law)
  • César Bengzon – 9th Philippine Chief Justice; 2nd placer, 1919 Bar Exams (UP College of Law)
  • Roberto Concepcion – 10th Philippine Chief Justice; 1st placer, 1924 Bar Exams (UST Faculty of Civil Law)
  • Querube Makalintal – 11th Philippine Chief Justice; 7th placer, 1933 Bar Exams (UP College of Law)
  • Ramon Aquino – 15th Philippine Chief Justice; 9th placer, 1939 Bar Exams (UP College of Law)
  • Claudio Teehankee – 16th Philippine Chief Justice; 1st placer, 1940 Bar Exams (Ateneo Law School)
  • Pedro Yap – 17th Philippine Chief Justice; 1st placer, 1946 Bar Exams (UP College of Law)
  • Andres Narvasa – 19th Philippine Chief Justice; 2nd placer, 1951 Bar Exams (UST Faculty of Civil Law)
  • Artemio Panganiban – 21st Philippine Chief Justice; 6th placer, 1960 Bar Exams (FEU Institute of Law)
  • José P. Laurel – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 2nd placer, 1915 Bar Exams
  • J. B. L. Reyes – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 6th placer, 1922 Bar Exams
  • Ambrosio Padilla – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 3rd placer, 1934 Bar Exams
  • Cecilia Muñoz-Palma – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 1st placer, 1937 Bar Exams
  • Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 1st placer, 1947 Bar Exams
  • Irene Cortes – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 9th placer, 1948 Bar Exams
  • Carolina C. Griño-Aquino – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 1st placer, 1950 Bar Exams
  • Isagani R. Cruz – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 8th placer, 1951 Bar Exams
  • Florenz Regalado – former Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 1st placer, 1954 Bar Exams
  • Adolfo Azcuna – Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 4th placer, 1962 Bar Exams
  • Antonio Eduardo Nachura – Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 7th placer, 1967 Bar Exams
  • Presbitero Velasco, Jr. – Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 6th placer, 1971 Bar Exams
  • Antonio Carpio – Philippine Supreme Court Justice; 6th placer, 1975 Bar Exams
  • Arturo D. Brion – Philippine Supreme Court Justice; former Philippine Court of Appeals Justice; 1st placer, 1974 Bar Exams
  • Lucas Bersamin – the 25th and current Philippine Chief Justice; 9th placer, 1973 Bar Exams

Senators and Representatives

  • Manuel A. Roxas – former Philippine Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives; 1st placer, 1913 Bar Exams
  • Manuel L. Quezon – former Philippine Senate President; 4th placer, 1903 Bar Exams
  • Arturo M. Tolentino – former Philippine Senate President; 2nd placer, 1934 Bar Exams
  • Ferdinand E. Marcos – former Philippine Senate President; 1st placer, 1939 Bar Exams
  • Jovito Salonga – former Philippine Senate President; 1st placer, 1944 Bar Exams
  • Neptali Gonzales – former Philippine Senate President; 9th placer, 1949 Bar Exams
  • Ernesto M. Maceda – former Philippine Senate President; 10th placer, 1956 Bar Exams
  • Franklin M. Drilon – former Philippine Senate President; 3rd placer, 1969 Bar Exams
  • Lorenzo Sumulong – former Philippine Senator; 1st placer, 1929 Bar Exams
  • Jose W. Diokno – former Philippine Senator; 1st placer, 1944 Bar Exams
  • Rene Saguisag – former Philippine Senator; 6th placer, 1963 Bar Exams
  • Aquilino Pimentel III (Koko Pimentel) – Philippine Senator; 1st placer, 1990 Bar Exams
  • Sergio S. Osmeña – former Speaker of the House of Representatives; 2nd placer, 1903 Bar Exams
  • Jose Yulo – former Speaker of the House of Representatives; 3rd placer, 1913 Bar Exams
  • Antonio Eduardo Nachura – former Samar Representative; 7th placer, 1967 Bar Exams
  • Ronaldo Zamora – San Juan Representative; 1st placer, 1969 Bar Exams
  • Prospero Nograles – Speaker of the House of Representatives; 2nd placer, 1971 Bar Exams
  • Arturo D. Brion – Assemblyman, Philippine National Assembly; 1st placer, 1974 Bar Exams
  • Gilberto Eduardo Gerardo C. Teodoro, Jr. – former Tarlac Representative; 1st placer, 1989 Bar Exams
  • José P. Laurel- former Senator; 2nd Placer 1915
  • Leila de Lima – current Philippine Senator; former Secretary of Justice; former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson; 8th placer, 1985 Bar Exams

Appointees and career service officials

Local officials

Academe

See also

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