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HOME > Public Statements and Opinion Papers > Opinion Papers > Recommendations on the Population of Legal Professionals in the Foreseeable Future

Recommendations on the Population of Legal Professionals in the Foreseeable Future

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March 18, 2009
Japan Federation of Bar Associations

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The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) adopted the “Recommendations on the Population of Legal Professionals in the Foreseeable Future” at the meeting of the Board of Governors.

 

  1. The JFBA has declared the need for judicial system reform several times since the year 1990. The government has carried out every reform measure contained in the Recommendations of the Justice System Reform Council (2001), resulting in, among other policies, the introduction of lay judge trials from May this year and an enhanced court-appointed attorney system for suspects. However, the consequence of these reforms depends on their implementation by the relevant authorities. This recommendation is based on the aim of strongly accelerating these steps.
  2. Justice system reform at this time requires unified and balanced materialization and implementation of various measures, such as improving human and institutional infrastructure, taking into consideration changes in the needs of the judiciary and the legal profession. However, the new legal education system has not yet reached maturity, and various fields have raised concerns about the quality of newly admitted legal professionals. Compared with the situation of rapid growth in the population of attorneys meanwhile, the circumstances surrounding the judiciary such as quality assurance, changes in legal needs and improving the institutional infrastructure of the judiciary including fiscal measures has not changed as substantially as first planned.
  3. Considering that it will take a number of years for improvement of these issues and reforms to be seen, the number of successful bar examination candidates shall be carefully and strictly determined for several years from the next fiscal year (FY 2009), keeping in mind the current number of successful candidates. The appropriate population of the legal profession after that time should be reviewed taking into account changes in the above situations.
  4. The prior urgent recommendation aimed to grow the population of legal professionals but requested that the pace of growth be reduced. Accordingly, the JFBA has had concerns voiced by members of the public saying that this may hamper lay judge trials and the court-appointed attorney system for suspects, enhance regional shortages of attorneys, and bring about the regression of judicial reform as a whole. We are acutely aware that the citizenry have high expectations of the role of the JFBA in promoting judicial reform.
  5. Meanwhile, the population of legal professionals has grown rapidly. This situation and the JFBA’s activities have gradually brought about the correction of regional shortages of attorneys and prepared the conditions necessary to support the introduction of lay judge trials and court-appointed attorneys for suspects. This recommendation aims to ensure growth in the population of legal professionals both now and in the future and to strengthen their activities in approaching their tasks and eradicating problems surrounding the legal system. We strongly believe this recommendation should not be any cause for concern for the public.
  6. The judiciary is the “last resort” for protecting the rights of the public, meaning that implementing additional reforms and improving access to justice is an important responsibility for the government. We request the growth in the population of legal professionals be linked to the increase of judges and public prosecutors, and the rapid establishment of the conditions required for a larger judiciary including the expansion of legal aid budgets.
  7. Regarding the growing population of legal professionals, the JFBA has decided to make a collective effort to educate legal professionals and ensure their high level of quality in order to meet the expectations of a wide variety of citizens and to turn out legal professionals to every corner of society.