Ms. Cassandra Lopez had the opportunity to sit down with Atty. Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, the newly appointed Dean of the School of Law (SOL) at MLQU. The interview aimed to shed light on Dean Lotilla’s vision and plans for the law school’s future.
Dean Lotilla’s immediate concern is the upcoming bar exams in September. With less than three months remaining, he stressed the need to enhance bar preparations. To address this, he had already met with the Bar Operations Committee. He requested them to conduct a survey among the bar takers, asking them to list the subjects they found most challenging. This would help identify areas where additional lectures and support are needed. Additionally, Dean Lotilla plans to coordinate with professors to establish a schedule for augmentation lectures and to seek their recommendations for subject reviewers. Moreover, he intended to compile the ponencia (opinions) of Justice Ramon Paul Hernando from both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, as well as the ponencia of Justice Florenz Regalado, whom Justice Hernando had worked with for an extended period.
Looking ahead to the coming semester, Dean Lotilla outlined several intended measures. Firstly, he wanted to ensure that both the faculty and the students are fully prepared for the start of the semester. In this regard, he aims to clarify the Legal Education Board’s (LEB) policy regarding in-person instruction in major subjects, while allowing remote learning for electives. This clarity would help the law school effectively plan its curriculum and delivery methods.
Another important aspect is the organization of the law library. Dean Lotilla plans to arrange for online subscription of foreign law libraries. This would provide students with access to a broader range of legal resources and enhance their research capabilities.
Furthermore, Dean Lotilla will reactivate the MLQU Law Quarterly, starting with online publication. Achieving this would involve organizing a student editorial board, appointing a faculty adviser, and setting up an office.
Dean Lotilla is also keen on organizing and encouraging the involvement of MLQU SOL graduates in the core faculty. This would contribute to the continuity and growth of the institution by leveraging the expertise and experience of its successful alumni.
Another significant initiative discussed during Dean Lotilla’s meeting with MLQU SOL Dean Emeritus former Chief Justice Reynato Puno was the establishment of a grant-in-aid or scholarship program for MLQU SOL students. This program aims to provide financial support to deserving students, furthering their legal education and fostering inclusivity.
To enhance the academic environment at MLQU SOL, Dean Lotilla will organize lectures by renowned Filipino and foreign lecturers on current and relevant topics. The goal is to have an annual review of Supreme Court cases, with the maiden lecture under this program to be conducted by former Chief Justice Puno himself in September of this year.
Recognizing the importance of faculty development, Dean Lotilla emphasized the need to maintain a core group of faculty members who are authorities in their respective fields. He envisioned establishing linkages with foreign schools and institutions that could provide scholarships and other forms of assistance, thus ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program without incurring additional costs for the university.
Dean Lotilla also aimed to further develop the MLQU SOL’s core competency in specific practice areas, such as civil law, consumer protection law, competition law and international law. This would establish the school as an institutional incubator for lawyers specializing in these fields. He pointed to his predecessor, former Dean Ferdinand Negre, now Commissioner of the Philippine Competition Commission, as an example of successful specialization.
Dean Lotilla acknowledged that the MLQU SOL occupies a unique niche due to its significant number of working students. Understanding their needs, he emphasized the importance of tweaking and calibrating the curriculum to accommodate their reality. His goal is to design a structured approach that would allow working students to complete their law studies in four, five, or six years, providing flexibility without compromising the overarching objectives of developing competent lawyers.
To support this objective, Dean Lotilla emphasized the need to explore and develop instructional modalities beyond traditional in-person methods. He highlighted the approach used in the United Kingdom, where students “read the law” and then come together for small group discussions, lectures and exams. Dean Lotilla believed that incorporating remote learning as a hybrid approach is crucial and should be continued.
As an offshoot of his discussions with former Chief Justice Puno, Dean Lotilla will also explore embedding another approach in the curriculum, inspired by the legal education systems in Japan and Korea. In these countries, different tracks are available for students interested in pursuing careers in prosecution, the judiciary, or general practice of law. However, he acknowledge that this approach require further study and curriculum recalibration to ensure its effective implementation.
Furthermore, Dean Lotilla emphasized the importance of creating a nurturing environment at the MLQU-SOL. He believes that instilling love for the law and country, as exemplified in the school’s motto of “Pro Patria et Jure” (For Country and Law), should be a primary focus. Rather than adopting a harsh and intimidating approach to impart legal knowledge, Dean Lotilla emphasized the need to foster a positive and supportive atmosphere. He envisioned the faculty as a true Faculty of Law where important matters, such as student admissions and dismissal would be decided through collegial discussions characterized by thoroughness, intelligence, and civility.
In summary, Dean Lotilla has a comprehensive vision for the MLQU SOL addressing immediate concerns, such as bar exam preparation, while also outlining plans for the upcoming semester and long term development, focus on core competencies, and adapt the curriculum to cater to working students. Furthermore, he seeks to create an environment that nurture’s students’ love for the law and country and encouraged decision-making processes within the faculty that are collegial and rooted in thorough and intelligent discussions.
Atty. Jose Perpetuo “Juju” Lotilla is SOL’s new Dean. With a remarkable legal career spanning decades, Dean Juju brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role. As a senior partner of Sycip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan (SyCip Law) for 31 years, Dean Juju specialized in various fields, mainly in privatization, foreign investments, infrastructure, project finance, among others.
In addition to his private practice, Atty. Lotilla served as Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Undersecretary for Civil Aviation at the Department of Transportation and Communications (now Department of Transportation). His notable roles included Chairman of the Air Panel and alternate chairman to the DOTC Secretary for various important regulatory boards and authorities.
Education has always been a priority for Atty. Lotilla, and he has shared his expertise with aspiring legal minds at prestigious institutions, such as the University of the Philippines College of Law, Lyceum of the Philippines, and San Sebastian College of Law. He has also held significant leadership positions, including Governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for Western Visayas and Chairman of the Committee on Bar Discipline. His dedication to the legal profession is evident through his involvement with the Philippine Bar Association, where he has served as member of the Board of Trustees, Executive Vice President, and President.
Dean Juju’s academic achievements include a Bachelor of Arts in Economic from Ateneo De Manila University, where he was an Insular Life Educational Foundation Scholar. He later earned his Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines College of Law. Additionally, he furthered his legal education through international courses, including specialized training on international debt restructuring at the International Law Organization in Rome, Italy. He also completed courses on International Trade Law at Oxford University in the United Kingdom and the Law of World Trade Organization at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., USA. In recognition of his extensive knowledge, he served as a Commercial Law Examiner in the 2022 Bar Examinations.