Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Law schools must put quality before quantity

"To ensure our judicial system functions in a manner that can retain the public's trust, capable judges, prosecutors and lawyers must be nurtured. With this in mind, we find it inevitable for some law schools to be closed if they cannot fulfill their duties as facilities for training in this profession.

"The number of applicants for the nation's 74 law schools for the 2009 academic year fell 25 percent from the previous year, marking the first time applications have fallen below 30,000.

"Out of the total, the ratio of total applicants to successful applicants fell below 2- to-1 at 42 schools. One law school saw only five applicants enrolled despite its initial intake quota set at 30.

"The entrance exam process for law schools for the 2010 academic year will soon go into full swing, but it seems the number of applicants will remain low. Law schools were introduced in 2004 as a key pillar of judicial system reform, but they likely have reached a turning point earlier than expected.

"All law school graduates are eligible to take the national bar examination, for which the pass rate was initially predicted to be about 70 to 80 percent. However, the actual pass rate has fallen far short of this mark, as indicated by last year's figure at a mere 33 percent.

"There is no doubt that the decline in the number of applicants can be attributed to the fact that entering law schools does not necessarily provide students with a passport to professional careers in law.

"Vicious circle

"Law schools are required to teach students the basics of the legal profession, giving them a good grounding in legal theory and practice, instead of placing undue weight on preparations for the bar exam.

"If law schools cannot attract high-quality applicants, they will have no choice but to accept less capable students. Under such circumstances, students with less-than-satisfactory aptitude would have to take the bar exam without acquiring sufficient legal skills and knowledge and end up failing the test in what amounts to a vicious circle.

"The Central Council for Education has asked law schools whose ratio of total applicants to successful applicants falls below 2-to-1 to cut the number of students allowed to enroll. So far, about 50 law schools have decided to cut their intake quotas. Given the need to ensure the quality of students, these schools had every reason to do so.

"The root cause of this vicious circle is that there are too many law schools in the nation. There will a further tendency among applicants to shun law schools that cannot produce good results. Therefore, some law schools will unavoidably go under and be forced out of this professional discipline. The government should actively promote the reorganization and integration of law schools.

"Quotas to be raised

"The government plans to increase the number of successful applicants for the bar exam from about 2,000 in 2008 to 3,000 in 2010. This plan should be firmly kept in place as a way of addressing the uneven distribution of lawyers across the nation, brought about largely by the concentration of lawyers in urban areas, as well as other problems.

"An important task to be tackled in doing so is to halt the declining quality of successful applicants.

"Every law school should be required to provide quality curriculums for the selected few. In the 2011 academic year, a preliminary examination system will be introduced that will ensure that even those who do not graduate from law school can still take the bar exam if they pass a preliminary exam. If a high number of students choose to take the preliminary test, the very reason for law schools existing will be called into question."

By Yomiuri Shimbun (Editorial, 7/26/2009), Link to article (last visited 7/28/2009)

1 comment:

Akismet said...

I think we cannot ignore about quantity too. So the best is to make its balance, between quality and quantity. How to make it, is by tightening control mechanism and maybe some curriculum reform that are not teach the theories of law, but also about its applications. penisgröße