Ending UST’s 21-year drought, Bar topnotcher 'happy to bring honor and pride'

MANILA, Philippines – Ephraim Bie, a student journalist from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila, emerged as the 2023 Bar Exam topnotcher, the Supreme Court announced Tuesday, December 5.

Ephraim Bie, a Thomasian, tops 2023 Bar exams. Photo courtesy of The Varsitarian

Bie led the new batch of lawyers with an 89.26% rating, ending his alma mater's 21-year drought in topping the bar exam.

“Medyo matagal nang walang [No. 1] ang UST and it is a very prestigious institution,” Bie told the Varsitarian. “I’m just happy to bring honor and pride sa faculty ko.”

In a separate interview, Bie said being a lawyer was his childhood dream as it will allow him to “serve the people."

“[I want to] serve the people as much as I can, to give back to the community, to use the legal knowledge and expertise I gained from my alma mater, UST, for the rule of law, for justice,” Bie said in an interview with ANC.

The dean of UST College of Law shared his excitement upon learning the news that this year's topnotcher is from their college.

"I was in the middle of a function in Subic when the 2023 bar exam results were announced. With me were three lawyers from our firm who are likewise UST Law Professors. We could not contain our joy and jubilation after hearing the wonderful news," Atty. Nilo Divina said, adding that the crowd was at first confused about their reaction, but "eventually understood why."

This year's bar topnotcher, who graduated from law school at the top of his batch and with magna cum laude honors, is currently working for a law firm.

Bie, a staff writer of the college paper, finished journalism degree in 2015.

Bie admitted he did not expect to top the Bar.

The 2023 bar exam registered a considerably low passing rate of 36.77% (3,812 of 10,387 examinees), down from 43.37 percent (3,992 of 9,183 examinees) in the 2022 cycle.

The examinations were conducted on September 17, 20 and 24.

The last time a Thomasian topped the Bar exam was in 2002, when legal management alumna and civil law graduate Arlene Maneja placed first with a 92.90% rating.

Other Thomasian topnotchers were former Philippine president Diosdado Macapagal (1936; 89.95 percent), former senator Jose Diokno (1944; 95.3 percent), and former chief justice Roberto Concepcion (1924; 89.1 percent).

— The Summit Express

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