After euphoria comes nostalgia
This question reminds me of a surprise quiz on my first day in law school.
The gist of my answer then was this: I wanted to become a lawyer because of the gavel.
The judge’s gavel represents power.
The hand that holds the gavel has the power to end or restore a person’s life.
It has the power to levy or liberate one’s property.
It has the power to enforce a right or to deprive the exercise thereof.
I wanted that power.
But young and short-sighted that I was, I failed to see that the gavel is not just about power.
More than power, it represents justice.
The hand that holds the gavel has the responsibility to dispense justice at all times, at all cost.
For no one can be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.
Due process is the essence of law.
They say that near-death experiences make you see things clearer and help you realize what are essential. The birthing pains of the last bar exam did just that for me. Tired and exhausted from four Sundays’ writing, I looked at my calloused hands and tried to picture a gavel in it. It didn’t work.
Fibisco’s “magduling-dulingan” trick didn’t deliver either.
And then it struck me.
That although my hands are now empty, I can do as many things with these hands – if not more.
I can hold another hand and give hope to someone who was deprived of his day in court.
I can loosen the cuffs and free a man from persecution.
I can raise my hand to protest flagrant violations of human rights.
I can snap my fingers to demand for the speedy disposition of cases.
And when the odds seem not to be in my favor, I can bring these hands together in prayer for courage and guidance.
The sound of the gavel pounding on wooden plate may mean that judgment has been promulgated, but the sound of hands clapping in unison is sweeter to the prevailing party to show that truly justice has once again been served.
Indeed, due process is the essence of law.
And they’re in my hands now. I can make it happen.
Now I look at my hands and I’m instantly reminded why I decided to become a lawyer.