What it really costs to become a lawyer in the Philippines

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It’s the morning before my trip to Japan. I should be packing but I feel like it is high time somebody wrote about this topic in light of the ever shrinking job market today.

It is graduation season once again when we welcome college graduates into the real world.  Or in real-world parlance, a welcome to unemployment, at least for those who slacked off in school and didn’t graduate with good grades or Latin honors (i.e. summa, magna, and cum  laude).  As one who did graduate with Latin honors, I got calls from several companies inviting me to work for them and I found myself a job, four months before graduation.

Generally, most college grads who do not find employment immediately after graduation will start contemplating getting further education in the hopes of improving their job prospects.  This post is directed to these undecided ones who, at one point or another, will seriously consider going to law school. No one really talks about this as Pinoys are coy about money matters but let me share with you what it really costs to become a lawyer in the Philippines.

Let me preface this by stating my personal circumstances: (a) I went to a partially subsidized law school (government law school) that is ranked first in the country; (b) I studied full-time; (c) my parents fully funded my stay in school and I’m forever grateful; (d) I moved from Cebu to Manila, where my law school is situated; and (e) I worked a part-time job during law school that gave me some discretionary income to buy my own clothes and any fun stuff (the amount of which is excluded in this post).  The emotional costs are high but cannot be quantified of course so I just settle on breaking down the financial cost below. 

Estimated total cost of going to law school until successful admission to the bar: PhP 1,971,100.00

1. Tuition fee per semester is about PhP 25,000.00 or a total of PhP 200,000.00 for entire 4 year stay. There are two semesters per year and law school lasts for four years.

Entrance to this government law school is competitive and slots are limited.  On the other hand, private law schools generally charge a tuition fee of about PhP 60,000.00 per semester.

 

UPDATE:  For an updated cost of tuition and books, at least for a certain private law school, just read here .

 

2. Rent is about PhP 5,000.00 per month for a one bedroom apartment or a total of PhP 300,000.00 for entire 5 year stay including bar review.

Living in Quezon City,  where living costs are lower, totally helped.

3. Living expenses cost about PhP 20,000.00 a month or a total of PhP 1.2 million for entire 5 years.

4. Plane tickets to and from Cebu (went home 4x a year) is about PhP 20,000.00 per year or a total of PhP 100,000.00 for entire 5 year stay.

5. Book expenses and expenses for photo copying of cases per semester is about PhP 15,000.00 or a total of PhP 120,000.00 for entire 4 year stay in school.

6. Bar review classes cost about PhP 10,000.00

7. Bar petition costs and other related bar review cost about PhP 5,000.00

8. Hotel accommodation for bar exam month PhP 25,000.00.

9. Food, transportation and other expenses during bar month PhP 10,000.00.

10. IBP Dues upon admission to the bar PhP 1,100.00.

UPDATE:  The costs don’t stop here.  Once you become a lawyer please note the startup costs of being a first year lawyer.

As you can tell, law school costs a lot. Take that with the average bar passage rate of only 17-25%, making 75% of law grads unemployable as lawyers, it may be high time for undecided ones to think twice before going to law school.

 

Moreover, law school will train you as a lawyer, for a career as a lawyer and not as a manager or whatever business or other field irrelevant to law. Thus, if you plan to go to law school, it should be for the purpose of becoming a lawyer and not as a supplement to your existing career in a field outside of law.  A law degree does not make you a desirable candidate for any other job other than a lawyer.

Nevertheless, congrats to the 2016 graduates!

xoxo,

20 something lawyer

 

 

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10 thoughts on “What it really costs to become a lawyer in the Philippines

  1. I am a teacher and have already finished my MA degree. However, I would still want to pursue something that I really like. I envy friends who took law and It gives me the urge to enroll. My husband is really supportive on this. Thank you for this article, it enlightened me a lot! Gave me courage!

    Like

    1. Hi Geno & Lea, I’m not aware of the rules in Europe but I’m informed that law degrees from accredited law schools in the
      Philippines are acceptable in the US, subject to regulatory rules such as passing a certain state’s bar exam.

      Like

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