Statement Concerning the “Report of the Study Council for the Professional Legal Training System”
The government’s Study Council for the Professional Legal Training System has announced its results in a “Report.” It is expected in the future that the ministerial conference concerning the Professional Legal Training System (the “System”) will decide on the measures to be taken by the government, taking such Report into consideration. While the JFBA would express its respect for the fact that the issues at question were discussed through a number of meetings (a total of 16 meetings since the establishment of such meetings in August 2012), there are still a number of important issues outstanding.
The “Report” shows the results of reviewing important issues in relation to the System such as areas of activities for legal professionals, the number of legal professionals in the future, and the ideal concept of the System, as well as issues in relation to the ideal concept of the legal profession pertaining to the System. However, it is still insufficient as the resolution against various problems such as the decrease in the number of youths aspiring to become legal professionals, and it is necessary to continue to act promptly through the reviewing structure in the future.
First, regarding the issue of the ideal concept of the number of legal professionals, the initial numerical goal that 3,000 people per year were to pass the bar examination was effectively withdrawn for being unrealistic. In future reviews, it should be made clearer that it should be moving in the direction of having only a gradual increase in the number of people who pass the bar examination, by reducing such number for the time being, because the rapid increase in such number has shown a clear adverse effect.
Second, regarding the issues of ideal financial support for legal apprentices, it is stated that concrete measures are to be implemented regarding issues such as moving expenses to designated places for practical training, and dormitories for the period during the general training in Wako, Saitama prefecture. Regarding further financial support, it will be examined within the discussion of the status of legal apprentices and the measures related thereto. However, in light of the great number of public comments calling for the restoration of the allowance payment system for judicial apprentices and the recommendations made by the ruling party of the government to provide proactive financial support, the contents of such financial support are grossly insufficient. Further, as already pointed out in the JFBA President's statement issued on June 10, 2013, the issue of relaxing the standards of permission for the conduct of subsidiary businesses should not be discussed as one of the measures for financial support.
Third, regarding the issue of the restructuring of the law school system, it is explicitly stated to accelerate the voluntary review on the unresolved issues in the structures of law schools and to introduce certain legal measures when the restructuring of such organizations failed to proceed within a certain period. On the other hand, it is stated that it is necessary to develop comprehensive measures in order to boost law schools. Substantiating such recommendations taking the perspectives of securing diversity and appropriate regional allocation of law schools into account, it is required that fundamental reforms in line with the principles of law schools be implemented further.
Other than the above, it was suggested that the limitation of number of times which a person may take the bar examination is to be relaxed to five times within five years and that the subjects of the multiple-choice test of bar examination should be limited to the Constitution, the Civil Code, and the Penal Code. However, the state’s proactive effort towards the expansion of the scope of activities for legal professionals has not yet substantiated, and a number of issues, including further financial support to legal apprentices, the ideal concept of preparatory examination which grants for qualification to take the bar examination taking into account the purpose of the System, and, the enhancement of the legal apprentice training course, are still outstanding for future review.
With respect to the reviewing structure in the future, to streamline the robust structure was suggested which “can promptly obtain the outcome of the issues reviewed, with the follow-ups being conducted across ministries and agencies.” Regarding the remaining issues, including the expansion of the scope of activities for legal professionals, such issues are important to and familiar for the public, relating to the ideal concept of the legal professionals who provide the “Rule of Law” in every corner of Japanese society, strengthen the function and role of justice, and support thereto; therefore, it is insufficient to review such issue solely by judges, public prosecutors, attorneys, and the related ministries and agencies. Consequently, a system should be constructed in a way to reflect opinions of the public who are the user of the legal system by the new reviewing structure as well.
The JFBA strongly urges the government to conduct specific measures towards resolving the problems of the current System in response to the results of this “Report,” and will take its utmost efforts to reform the System continuously.
June 27, 2013
Japan Federation of Bar Associations