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The Adventures of Supreme Court Girl

A few months ago, I was accepted as one of the interns for the Judicial Administration and Reform Internship Program under the Office of the Chief Justice in the Supreme Court. There are seven of us in the program, with six of us coming from UP and one from San Beda. We work directly under the Chief Justice, and are tasked primarily with judicial & legal reform through policy-making and general management on court administration.

We started just last Monday, but already we feel like we've been working here for a month, considering the amount of tasks we've accomplished and the deliverables we have to submit. We have so much on our plate! But that's not necessarily a bad thing: it just means that there is work being done. There are a lot of programs, policies, and other plans currently in motion - meaning there are definitely improvements being made in the Supreme Court, and effectively, in the Judiciary.

For instance, just last Thursday, June 9, we went to the Justice Sector Coordinating Council's Principals' Meeting, held at the Manila Pavilion Hotel. It was attended by various government agencies in the justice sector, headed by the three principals, the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). All the offices under these three principals were present and represented too, including delegates from the Judiciary (such as judges from trial courts), the police force (PNP), the BJMP and BuCor, and the prosecutors. The JSCC was organized to serve as a joint forum for dialogue on issues and initiatives among justice sector institutions.

The OCJ JARIP Interns (minus Ger) with Atty. Jo Ann at the JSCC Meeting

Our primary task for that day was to work as the secretariat, preparing the presentations and the resolutions that will be reported by key figures before the JSCC principals and members. We had to keep track of a lot of events, update ourselves with the status of ongoing projects, and familiarize ourselves with different people, to keep the program afloat. You could say we were like baby animals thrown into the wild and had to fend for ourselves right away. But it was a great experience. For one, the entire thing made the Supreme Court and the Judiciary three-dimensional for me. Whereas in school, it was merely a body that writes decisions and decides on jurisprudence, now, it has become this living, breathing organism that functions thanks to the continuous work of many smaller parts. The SC is not just a branch of government - it is an office. It has responsibilities, both administrative and judicial in nature. It is the foundation on which the framework of the entire justice system works.

Taking a break from doing secretariat work (We wolfed down our lunch!)

Our calendars are packed until the end of July. Some of us are going to Baguio for a small claims seminar; others have already attended ASEAN and DFA meetings or jail decongestion projects. I myself am tasked to go to Palawan this week in preparation for an ASEAN Chief Justice meeting. We are also set to attend an MBA lecture, and to organize a compendium of justice zones. It's a lot to have on one's plate, but it's exciting. Much of our job is not just doing research on jurisprudence but also conducting studies and collating data on the field. What I like so far about the program is that we are thrust right into the middle of all the action. There is no room for spoon-feeding, no time for baby steps. We have to learn the ropes right away, because these projects and reforms are not going to slow down for us. There are so many things happening; it can be pretty overwhelming, considering we've only been working officially for six days (as of this writing). But it's also satisfying when you finally realize how much you can contribute to the improvement of the sector.

Last Friday's lunch with other UP interns in the SC

I think my biggest takeaway from all this, so far, is that I'm happy to have found something I would love to do as a lawyer one day. I've always had this nagging feeling inside me that I cannot envision a lifetime of litigation - I don't see myself being satisfied by going down the traditional path of lawyering. That may be the case for almost all of my peers, but I think it is not for me. I also cannot see myself ever running for public office and becoming a politician, which is also something some of my batchmates are sure to pursue. For the most part of law school, my difficulties have stemmed from the fact that I am a very non-adversarial person. I don't like disputes; I want solutions rather than conflict. I'm a team player; I don't like arguing and winning for the sake of arguing and winning. Which isn't exactly the most ideal of traits when one wants to pursue litigation (or public office). I've had these feelings affirmed after our internship in OLA as well. Much as I enjoyed helping out our clients, I felt like it was too limiting and too constrained for me. It was also too stifling, having the lives of a particular few in my hands. The intention to help was there, but my heart was not in it.

Hence, my inclination to now work for the government. Last semester, my internship at the OGCC proved to be a good experience. And now this. I realized I can function more knowing that I am getting something done to help fix the system. There are always things being done, and problems slowly being solved. I want to be part of that solution.

Don't get me wrong, I am not closing my doors on any opportunities that may come my way in the days and months and years to come. Lawyering, after all, is a profession that seeps in almost all industries and all sectors. Who knows, I may still change my mind before or after graduation (or the Bar). But as it is, I am liking what I see, and I am enjoying this kind of work. There is so much to do, but also so much to learn, and so much to contribute.

Para sa bayan. :))

Happy 115th Anniversary, Supreme Court!
OCJ Interns at the Anniversary Festivities last June 10


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