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MANILA, Philippines - Every day boundaries are being rewritten, as people constantly strive to improve on the way they do things. Even the teaching of law, once regarded as having strict delineations and very conservative, is no exception.
Amid all these, the FEU Institute of Law welcomed its new dean in the person of Atty. Mel Sta. Maria. Known for having been a law professor for many years, having authored a number of law books, and having been involved in a number of national impact cases filed with the Supreme Court, Sta. Maria is a daily witness to how the practice of law has evolved. As the co-host of a public service program, providing legal information and analysis in various news programs of TV5, Radyo5 and AksyonTV, he is keenly aware of how the lives of ordinary people can be affected by a lawyer’s understanding and appreciation not only of the law, but of its interaction with other disciplines.
It is therefore not surprising that his principal recommendation upon assuming the deanship of FEU is to begin offering Juris Doctor (JD) to incoming freshmen for SY 2014-2015 at the FEU Institute of Law in Manila. He then followed this up with another major recommendation – the transfer of the FEU Institute of Law from Manila to Makati, right in the heart of the Philippines’ premiere commercial center. This JD program will be offered in addition to the joint MBA-JD program of FEU in partnership with the De La Salle University at the RCBC Tower in Makati.
At FEU’s recent commencement rites, Sta. Maria took inspiration from the words of Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, who exhorted the graduates to “develop the habit of reflective thinking so that you can shape your own philosophy about law and society. Challenge in your thoughts the architecture of things. Ask constantly – How can things be better? How can my people be lifted up?”
For Sta. Maria, the JD program is one way of making this happen.
The Juris Doctor is a degree program that provides students with different perspectives of the law. It offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law, with subjects such as law and economics, law and psychology, and specialized electives such as banking law, copyright law, international arbitration and conflict resolution in family law, among others.
“Our hope is for FEU law students to be more mature in their perception of the law once they graduate. And, hopefully as a result, giving them an equal, if not better, fighting chance in the battle for employment after graduation both locally and abroad, especially considering the impending Asean integration by 2015,” he said.
The transfer to the FEU Makati campus, located at the heart of the country’s foremost financial and business district, will also increase the accessibility of the FEU Institute of Law to outstanding lawyers who want to teach law and also to prospective students, most of whom are working in the Makati CBD. More importantly, the new and modern facilities at the Makati campus can provide an environment most conducive to learning.
The second to third years of the Bachelor of Laws (LlB) program, on the other hand, will still be offered at the Manila campus until they are completely replaced by the JD program in Makati for each succeeding year starting from 2014.
“Giving the law students in the LlB program the best legal education also remains a key priority for FEU,” said Sta. Maria. In fact, to further strengthen its present faculty, which includes the Institute’s Associate Dean Viviana Paguirigan who is an expert in civil law, FEU has tapped the services of a number of legal experts, such as former Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval and Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te to teach major and/or important law subjects.
Beyond offering the JD program, Sta. Maria is looking at the totality of FEU’s offerings, with the goal of making it even more responsive to the needs of students, its stakeholders, and the community. Toward this goal, several initiatives are in place. “My vision for the next year is to create an impact, for the public to see that something is happening at the FEU Institute of Law,” he said.
To support the JD program, Sta. Maria is beefing up the faculty members to teach the incoming first year students at the FEU Institute of Law in Makati. Recognizing that law studies should be accessible to everyone, the FEU Institute of Law will also be offering a number of merit- and need-based scholarship programs to qualified and deserving students beginning school year 2014-2015.
“These are exciting times for the FEU Institute of Law. We have a new home, a new set of professors for the new program, and I am a new dean. We are also fortunate at FEU to have visionary and progressive leaders and administrators who are committed to provide the best education and facilities to our students, people like our FEU CEO Aurelio Montinola, CFO Juan Montinola, and FEU president Dr. Michael Alba.”
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