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Operating in the Bar Operations

RING RING. “Hi, BarOps? Can anyone buy me a lamb burger at this hour? I’m really craving for it right now.”

First-timer BarOps freshman volunteer Noel could not believe what he just heard. A lamb burger at 1 in the morning? Where the heck will I buy that? He thought. But it is a job that is assigned to him, and a job that he must do. Four burger joints and one frantic phone call later, Noel was able to buy the requested burger. Racing back to the hotel to deliver the food, he soon finds out that the barrister who called just went back to sleep.

Fast track to four years later, Noel is now about to take his own Bar exams. Resting in his hotel the night before the test, he slowly picks up the phone and dials the number given to them upon registration. “Hello, BarOps? May I please request someone to buy me a baby lamb burger? Yes, you heard me right. A baby lamb burger.”

Outlandish stories like this are widespread when it comes to talking about the Ateneo Bar Operations or the BarOps. But BarOps is more than just being in the beck and call of barristers and thinking of what to ask when you finally get to have your turn as an examinee. BarOps is definitely something more.

This year’s heads, Jan Chan and Jose Emilio Teves (both from 4C), simply described BarOps as a support group which takes liberty in arranging the academic and logistical matters of taking the Bar so that Ateneo Bar candidates will have peace of mind in studying, passing, and acing the exams. The BarOps team, which is composed of three main committees—Academics, Administration, and Hotel—is essentially there to give assistance by providing tips and substantive reviewers, arranging hotel reservations and transportation, and getting other requests for the barristers.

More than the logistical aspect of the preparations, the Ateneo BarOps also provides the much-needed support in encouraging the barristers as they take the exams. This year’s theme, “Ascend to Greater Heights,” signifies the belief and aspirations that BarOps have for the barristers as they tackle one of the biggest hurdles of their lives.

But ascending to greater heights is not only confined to their wishes for the exam takers. This belief also introduced refining changes within the internal group. As such, this year’s reproduced reviewers have been meticulously edited and revamped by the faculty. Associate Dean Lily Gruba, Associate Dean Giovanni Vallente, and Atty. Ignatius Michael Ingles have personally made extra efforts to ensure the quality of these materials. Such topnotch work was not to go unnoticed, as it has been translated into actual books instead of photocopied materials.

Structural changes were also initiated, as the group developed a communications system by having different point persons for every specific group of barristers—ensuring efficient information dissemination for the examinees with regard to lecture schedules and other matters. This move is a departure from previous practices, where each of the examinees talks to one person only. There are also ongoing talks in tapping interested college students from the Loyola Schools campus to experience what it is like to help out during Bar Operations.

The month of October is just as pressing and hectic for the BarOps team. During pre-week, the Academics Committee starts looking for possible Bar questions, which shall be consolidated in a last-minute reviewer, or the so called “Blue Tips.” Meanwhile in Sofitel, the Hotel Committee is busy catering to the special requests of the Bar examinees to make them as comfortable and relaxed as possible. These requests could be as ordinary as asking for some McDonald’s breakfast, or as outrageous as demanding for a cute guy to give the wake-up call. Oftentimes, these requests brought about extreme stories of barristers getting emotional over breakfast, or getting cranky because their coffee was not made right.

Going through the typical schedule of the ‘Bar month,’ it is easy to dismiss the Ateneo BarOps as just your ordinary Bar Operations system. But considering the Law School’s remarkable Bar performance, one would easily deduce that it is so much more. Perhaps what could be noted as the distinguishing factor of Ateneo’s BarOps is the spirit of volunteerism from the students, the faculty, and the school itself.

Both Chan and Teves agree that the intention is really the motivating force for the swarm of help they get from students. Although some professors would give class incentives if the students will help out during Bar month, most of the volunteers are really there to give the much-needed support out of their own free will. The Student Council has also provided its own means in helping BarOps team, such as organizing the traditional Send-offs and Salubong for the barristers.

It is not just the students who give support; the Administration and the faculty have been all-out in giving its assistance to the barristers and the BarOps team. They are very hands on in editing the reviewers and being available to the team whenever they need them. ALS alumni are also quite invested during BarOps season, as a bunch of them flock over to Sofitel and to the examination venue to cheer up and alleviate the stress of the Bar candidates.

With all the reviewer-making and errand-running, BarOps is certainly not the most glamorous organization in the Law School. Yet, someone has to do it. But given the outpouring of support it receives, and coupled with the success of the Ateneo Bar candidates, doing BarOps work is definitely something that will leave you wanting to do the job more. P

The BarOps team is still looking for volunteers. Contact Jan Chan at 0917-5487048 or Jose Emilio Teves at 0920-9144846 if you want to help out. J

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