For over 16 years, the Board was not constituted for various reasons. It was only in the early part of 2009 that the Judicial and Bar Council published its call for applications for positions in the Board.This paved the way for the nomination and the appointment of the Chairperson on 16 September 2009. This was followed by the appointment of the other members. On 1 June 2010, the LEB became fully operational.Appointed as the first chairperson of the Board was retired Court of Appeals Justice Hilarion L. Aquino. Aside from Justice Aquino, the pioneer members of the Board were Dean Eulogia M. Cueva, Justice Eloy R. Bello, Jr., Dean Venicio S. Flores, and CHED Director Felizardo Y. Francisco, representing CHED Chairperson Emmanuel Y. Angeles.The chairpersonship of Justice Aquino was highlighted by the promulgation of two salient rules. The first was LEB Memorandum Order (LEBMO) No. 1, Series of 2011, on the subject of “Policies and Standards of Legal Education and Manual of Regulation for Law Schools.” LEBMO No. 1 serves as the lodestar in the administration of the legal education system. LEBMO No. 1 was supplemented by LEBMO No. 2, effective 1 June 2014, which provided for additional rules in the operation of the law program.In 20 April 2013, the Board also enacted Resolution No. 2013-01, the Ethical Standards of Conduct for Law Professors. In fine, Resolution No. 2013-01 provided for the law professor’s conduct with respect to his relationship or engagement with his or her students, colleagues, and his or her discipline.On 22 January 2016, Dean Emerson B. Aquende assumed the chairmanship of the Legal Education Board. Various initiatives and reforms were undertaken by the Board under the stewardship of the new Chairperson. In particular the Board undertook the reform of the law curriculum and also the introduction of a national law school admission test in order to further raise the standards and quality of legal education.In its sixth year of operations, the Board undertakes to continue further on the path of uplifting the standards of legal education in order to equip our law students with the competencies necessary to face the multifarious challenges brought about by globalization and the age of information technology.
PASSAGE OF THE LEGAL EDUCATION REFORM ACT OF 1993 (R.A. NO. 7662)
The Legal Education Board was created pursuant to R.A. No. 7662, also known as the Legal Education Reform Act of 1993. The law was approved by President Fidel V. Ramos on 23 December 1993.
The primary policy of the law is to reform and uplift the standards of legal education in the country. Towards this end, the State shall undertake appropriate reforms in legal education, require proper selection of law students, maintain quality among law schools, and require legal apprenticeship and continuing legal education.
The Board shall have the following powers and functions:
- a) To administer the legal education system.
- b) To supervise the law schools.
- c) To set accreditation standards for law schools.
- d) To accredit law schools.
- e) To set minimum standards for law admission and minimum qualifications and compensation of faculty members.
- f) To prescribe the basic curricula for the course of study aligned to the requirements for admission to the bar, law practice and social consciousness, and such other courses of study as may be prescribed by the law schools.
- g) To establish a law practice internship as a requirement for taking the bar.
- h) To perform such other functions and prescribe such rules and regulations necessary for the attainment of the policies and objectives of the Legal Education Reform Act.
The importance given by the State to legal education is shown by the fact that legal education has its own supervisory and regulatory agency unlike other professional education programs which all fall under the supervisory and regulatory jurisdiction of the Commission on Higher Education.
LEGAL EDUCATION BOARD, COMPOSITION
The Board is composed of a Chairperson and the following as regular members:
- A representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
- A representative of the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS).
- A representative of the Philippine Association of Law Professors (PALP).
- A representative from the ranks of active law practitioners.
- A representative from the law students’ sector.
The Secretary of the Commission on Higher Education, or his representative, shall be an ex officio member of the Board.
The Chairperson and regular members of the Board shall be appointed by the President for a term of five years without reappointment from a list of at least three nominees prepared, with prior authorization from the Supreme Court, by the Judicial and Bar Council for every position or vacancy, and no such appointment shall need confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.
The Chairperson and regular members of the Board shall have the same salary and rank as the Chairperson and members, respectively, of the Constitutional Commissions.
INDEPENDENT STATUS OF THE LEB, WORKING WITH THE STAKEHOLDERS IN LEGAL EDUCATION
It is noteworthy that under R.A. No. 7662, the Legal Education Board has not been subordinated to any department or branch of the government. Hence its acts and proceedings are not subject to review by any agency of the government except by the courts in an appropriate petition or action.
A not uncommon misimpression is that the Board is under the CHED. While the Board is attached to the CHED, the same is “solely for budgetary purposes and administrative support.”
Nor is the LEB under the Supreme Court. While legal education is the domain of the Board, the administration of the bar examination and admission to the practice of law is within the province of the High Court. Nonetheless it cannot be gainsaid that while legal education and admission to the practice of law are separate and distinct insofar as regulatory authority is concerned, the nexus between the two is all to clear and the interface between the two, especially insofar as the bar examination is concerned is quite significant.
There has thus been close coordination and cooperation between the Supreme Court and the Board with respect to reforms in legal education and in the bar examination.
The Board has been working closely with the PALS to advance its mission of reforming and uplifting the standards of Philippine legal education. In this regard, the Board has been partnering with PALS in rolling out various seminars, workshops, and conferences concerning legal education and legal scholarship.