Dean Jose Maria G. Hofileña informed the community in a memo dated July 3, 2018, of the creation and/or reorganization of new offices for the Ateneo Law School in the coming school year. According to the Dean, the general thrust of the Law School for Academic Year 2018-2019 would be to keep faithful to the mission and vision of the school — that is, to form graduates that would be lawyers who would be persons of integrity in their workplace. The Dean said this involves forming graduates who possess Ignatian values while at the same time maintaining standards of excellence.
A Sense of Community
To enhance this, however, Dean Hofileña said that he would like to stress the community aspect of the Law School. “It’s not just the administration, its students, staff, alumni even, [and] the faculty…and come to bring everyone together…to get a sense of pride from the community.”
Such pride, according to the Dean, emanates from various achievements, one of which is Academics. “We want to produce and continue to be known as having the highest standards academically. And we also want to form people of integrity. We want people to be proud of that and we want people to volunteer their efforts in achieving that. We want this place where people find fulfilment…”
On the operational side, the Dean notes that he wants to create an environment conducive to the learning of the law. “Whether it is facilities, whether it is systems, we will review those to make sure that it really creates the sort of environment for our students to thrive and for our faculty also to bring out the best.”
Creating the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
To achieve these goals, the Dean made two appointments. For Dean Hofileña, the more fundamental of these appointments is the creation of the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, appointing Atty. Maita Chan-Gonzaga as Associate Dean.
Academic Affairs, shares the Dean, involves an area that “demands a daily focus because every hour something comes up.” While acknowledging that as Dean he has to be on top of everything in the law school, Dean Hofileña feels that creating a separate and specialized office would be beneficial to the Law School. Moreover, having a specific office in charge of the academic affairs would make responding to the issues and requests quicker.
“It will be for the betterment of the school…to have someone whose sole duty is to take care of that aspect,” he said.
The office is also foreseen as assisting students in their stay in the Ateneo Law School in that day-to-day capacity. The Dean cited certain areas that the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs could assist. “If you want to be able to be able to fairly address students concerns about the grades they were given for example, schedule of exams, blocks…change of blocks.”
Reorganizing the Bernas Center to the Bernas Institute for Continuing Legal Education
With the reorganization of the Bernas Center into the Bernas Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the office now serves as the school’s arm in-charge of non-degree programs, such as the Bar Review and the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.
“Maybe we’ll have certificate courses, we’ll have special lectures… maybe paralegal certification –things that are non-degree. We have the Bernas Center to be able to strengthen that because it will engage with the public, so to speak. We thought that maybe, at least perception wise, it will be better to have it constituted as an institute,” Dean Hofileña shared.
Atty. Lily Gruba, then Dean for Continuing Legal Education was appointed by the Dean as the Executive Director of the newly-minted Bernas Institute.
Dean Hofileña clarified that the reorganization of the Bernas Center was a result of concerns for rationalization.
He explained, “The establishment of the Bernas Institute wasn’t really prompted by any specific Bar or MCLE concerns, but it was meant to make things more rational…baka kasi may duplication of efforts in some sense. To that extent, there might be some wastage in terms of time and resources.”
Previous to this reorganization, Bar and MCLE matters were handled by the Associate Dean for Continuing Legal Education despite the then-Bernas Center being created for those specific purposes.
Academic Year 2018-2019 and Beyond
Dean Hofileña envisions that these appointments would help the law school in achieving its thrust for next school year and for the succeeding ones.
“We want to continue to be and even more so, be the premier law school in the land. We want to be able to be faithful to our vision and mission and produce lawyers that will continue to be the first choice of employers,” he said. “One thing that we’ve had a look at is the employability of our graduates. It’s still very high, when you ask employers, choosing Ateneo graduates are still up there. We want to maintain that and that can be maintained by doing all we can do in the law school to establish and protect the good name and the good reputation of the school, matched with actual results. It’s not just words but actual results.”
Dean Hofileña continued, “The appointments I think are going to help us organizationally, make things more rational so we can deliver our services in a more efficient manner, and these services will include the non-degree programs, and of course the Juris Doctor [program]…”
Aside from maintaining its standing as the top law school in the country, Dean Hofileña also intends to continue the thrust of internationalizing the Law School through partnerships with law schools all over the world.
“The world is getting smaller. We’re going to continue the efforts in earlier years of getting the Ateneo Law School to interact internationally. We do have these collaborative arrangements now with law schools in Spain, Japan, Australia, UK, which allow us to offer a more global perspective to our students,” he closed.
Aside from the appointment of Atty. Chan-Gonzaga and Atty. Lily Gruba at Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Executive Director of the Bernas Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the Dean also made the following re-appointments:
- Associate Dean Giovanni F. Vallente – Associate Dean for Student Affairs
- Atty. Amparita Sta. Maria – Director of the Graduate Legal Studies Institute
- Atty. Ryan Jeremiah D. Quan – Program Officer for the Graduate Legal Studies Institute
- Atty. Ray Paolo J. Santiago – Executive Director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center
- Atty. Axel Rupert M. Cruz – Director of the Ateneo Legal Services Center
- Atty. Maria Patricia R. Cervantes-Poco – Resident Supervising Attorney of the Ateneo Legal Services Center
- Atty. Leo Angelo Miguel R. Añonuevo – Resident Supervising Attorney of the Ateneo Legal Services Center
- Atty. Nina Patricia D. Sison-Arroyo – Assistant to the Dean for Administration
- Fr. Artemio N. Ferrer, SJ – Administrative Officer