Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Ex-businessmen doing poorly on bar exam

"Law schools that have emphasized the training of adults with experience working in society--in order to produce legal professionals with broad points of view--are now finding themselves in great difficulty.

"In this year's national bar examination, the fourth to be conducted under the new exam system, less than 20 percent of those with experience working in society passed the exam.

"Some law schools have changed their educational policies and plan to expand their quotas for students who already have majored in law at universities.

"Law schools were introduced in 2004 as a key pillar of judicial system reform, but many law school teachers say three years of study is not enough time for people who did not major in law at universities to catch up with those who did.

"This year's average pass rate for the new bar exam was 28 percent--39 percent for students who majored in law at universities and 19 percent for those who did not.

"Tsukuba University Law School offers only a three-year night course for students who did not major in law at universities, targeting such people as those who have university degrees in fields other than law and those with experience of working in society.

""I have a family and I also have to make money to pay my tuition," said a company employee in his 30s who takes classes on weekday evenings after work and all day on Saturdays.

"The Tsukuba law school's students have less study time than those at other schools, who also can study in the daytime. Thirty-four of its students took the exam this year, but only three passed.

""I believe our school has met the ideal of the judicial system reforms, which aim to nurture legal professionals with rich experience, but the reality is harsh," said Makoto Arai, a professor at Tsukuba University and the head of the law school.

"Waseda University Law School also has concentrated on nurturing students with experience working in society. Ten percent of its students are in a two-year course for those who majored in law at universities, and the remaining 90 percent are taking a course for students who did not.

"But the percentage of its students who passed this year's bar exam was lower than those of rival schools whose students are largely graduates from different universities' law faculties. Waseda University saw 33 percent of its students pass the exam, while the figure was 56 percent for Tokyo University and 46 percent for Keio University.

"To improve the pass rate, Waseda University has decided, beginning in the 2011 academic year, to expand considerably its quota for students who have graduated from law faculties. Of its total quota of 270 students, 150 would be graduates from law faculties.

"Waseda University Prof. Shuichi Furuya, who is in charge of educational affairs, said with a sigh that the university had to change its policy "for its students to pass the bar exam."

"Kagoshima University Law School has a policy of nurturing legal professionals who offer judicial services in local communities. Its students have practical training in legal consultation, staying on an isolated island for three nights and four days with lawyers, during which time they give advice on such legal troubles as boundary disputes.

"However, only two of its students passed the bar exam this year. Concerned about the situation, the university reportedly plans to start a student exchange program with Kyushu University from the next academic year.

""The time has come to reconsider the new bar exam, including the way questions are asked," lawyer Kazuhiro Nakanishi of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations' Law School Center said."

By Yomiuri Shimbun (11/10/2009), Link to article (last visited 11/21/2009)

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