UST confers Juris Doctor degrees to nearly 1000 Thomasian lawyers

Almost a thousand Thomasian lawyers from the Classes of 2018 and earlier were conferred the degree of Juris Doctor in substitution of their previously held Bachelor of Laws degree. The conferment ceremonies were held on July 29, 2023, at the Quadricentennial Pavilion of the UST Manila campus and streamed live via the official Facebook page of the UST Faculty of Civil Law.

Pursuant to the Legal Education Board (LEB) Memorandum Order No. 19, Series of 2018, the LEB Chairperson Atty. Anna Marie Melanie Trinidad confirmed the authority of UST to migrate the Bachelor of Laws (Ll.B.) to the degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.) and reissue diplomas to the graduates fitting the criteria of having passed the bar examinations, obtained their license to practice law, and previously obtained the Bachelor of Laws degree.

UST Faculty of Civil Law Dean Atty. Nilo T. Divina acknowledged the graduates’ hard work, saying, “When you started your studies here in UST, each of you had your reasons for becoming a lawyer… It took a lot of tenacity, sacrifice, and grit to cross the finish line and reach where you are today.”

“When you have graduated from the University, you may have realized it was not an endpoint, but a point of departure. Similarly, the conferment today is another flight of yours to soar higher and pursue other dreams and aspirations,” said Dean Divina, who noted that this day was historic, for it marked the first Juris Doctor conferment ceremony of the Faculty of Civil Law and also served as the biggest assembly of Thomasian lawyers so far.

Dean Divina also relayed to the graduates a message from Supreme Court Chief Justice Hon. Alexander Gesmundo, who wrote “Kindly extend my regards to the Thomasian lawyers and exhort them to remain devoted to the pursuit of truth and promotion of justice under a regime of liberty and democracy.”
UST Faculty of Civil Law Regent Rev. Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P., said “We hope that, as UST was once your home during your formative years, it remains gratefully etched in your heart that UST will always be your home where you are always welcome with such esteem.”

In the Message of Accession, UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P., EHL, urged the graduates to recall the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas to illuminate, rather than merely shine, saying, “Let us embrace this journey with a profound sense of purpose, for we have been called to become advocates for justice, champions of the downtrodden, and protectors of the dignity inherent in every human person. Your actions, no matter how small they may seem, can send ripples of transformation throughout the Church, the nation, and the global community. “

Dean Divina and Fr. Coronel led the candidates for the Juris Doctor degree in the ceremonial wearing of the JD sash.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Hon. Amy Lazaro-Javier, an alumna of the Faculty of Civil Law Class of 1982, delivered the inspirational message. Noting the UST Faculty of Civil Law’s over 400 years of history as the oldest school of law in the nation, Javier said “Every time there were major changes and upheavals in Philippine governance, in Philippine society, in the Philippine legal environment, our alma mater has always been there and continues to endure. Truly, we come from a tradition of surviving challenges and finding opportunities to flourish.”

Associate Justice Javier also explained the rationale for the name change, saying “The Juris Doctor is considered as a professional doctoral degree in jurisdictions where the basic law degree is a graduate level degree. On the other hand, the Bachelor of Laws is commonly used when the entry requirement in basic law courts is a senior high school diploma. The use of ‘Bachelor of Laws’ also creates an erroneous perception that the basic law degree is equivalent to other bachelor’s level degrees. It goes without saying that there was nothing ordinary in the way we earned our Bachelor of Laws; we just need to rebrand to retain our relevance during these times of change and changing perceptions about the legal profession.”

UST Law Alumni Association President and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Hon. Ronald Moreno, an alumnus from the Class of 1995, led the recitation of the Thomasian Pledge, before Dean Divina concluded the conferment ceremonies with his words of thanks.

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