Resolution to Address Issues in Concert to Ensure the Realization of Systemic Reform in the Fostering of Legal Professionals
In order to enable the rule of law to prevail in all facets of society, to protect fundamental human rights and to realize social justice, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (the “JFBA”) has actively engaged in various activities such as: (i) streamlining judicial foundations; (ii) enhancing access to justice; and (iii) expanding the fields and scopes of practice for attorneys. Further, the JFBA has been engineering its efforts in fostering high-quality legal professionals to respond to the various needs which arise from society.
In the meantime, under the new system for fostering legal professionals, a number of newly-registered legal professionals have started practice in a variety of fields. However, there has been a sharp year-on-year decrease in the number of applicants seeking to become legal professionals, due mainly to: (i) the fact of the low pass rate for the bar examination, contrary to the initial forecasts; (ii) the difficult situations being faced by newly-registered legal professionals in finding jobs upon completion of the legal apprentice training; as well as (iii) the financial and time burdens imposed in the process of becoming legal professionals. If such situation is permitted to continue, it may lead to the weakening of the foundation of the types of people who will play such a major role in the future of the judiciary and democracy in our country.
In light of such situation, the JFBA made resolutions at the meetings of its Board of Governors, entitled “Recommendations Concerning the Policy Regarding the Number of Legal Professionals” on March 15, 2012, and entitled “Specific Recommendations Regarding the Improvement of the Law School System” on July 13, 2012. Since then, based on such Recommendations, the JFBA has been addressing the following activities, all of which are interrelated and which the JFBA has regarded and positioned as one basic policy: (i) to reduce the number of successful bar examinees to 1,500 per year for the time being; (ii) based on item (i), to promote the abolition or merger of law schools and the drastic reduction of the total maximum number of law school students in order to secure a high level of quality in the education provided; (iii) to run the preliminary examination for the bar examination consistent with the intended purpose of the system; and (iv) to reduce the financial burden imposed on applicants in the process of becoming legal professionals, including the provision of financial support for legal apprentices, such as realizing an allowance payment system for such apprentices.
Amid such situation, the Council for the Promotion of Systemic Reform in the Fostering of Legal Professionals in the Cabinet Secretariat compiled a document on June 30, 2015, entitled, “Further Promotion of Systemic Reform in the Fostering of Legal Professionals” (the “Council’s Decision”) which includes a review of the ideal situation for financial support provided for legal apprentices, stating that the number of successful bar examinees should remain “approximately 1,500” per year for the time being. The Council’s Decision indicates the fact that social consensus regarding systemic reform in the fostering of legal professionals is finally being reached through a series of sincere discussions among related-institutions and organizations.
Today, the systemic reform in the fostering of legal professionals has reached a new stage aiming for the realization of such reform after solidifying such consensus.
At this new stage, the JFBA should: (i) once again widely convey the role of legal professionals and the appealing features of its activities to society as well as (ii) strive to do its utmost: to (a) recover the public's trust and faith in the system for the fostering of legal professionals; (b) create an environment in which a wide variety of capable young people seek to become legal professionals; and (c) help to enable the development of legal professionals with high quality to practice in different and diverse fields.
In order to realize the above goals, based on the above two Recommendations, the JFBA, in cooperation with related institutions and organizations, will proceed with the reform of the entire process of the system for the fostering of legal professionals, including the active embodiment of the contents of the Council’s Decision. In addition, as urgent matters to deal with, the JFBA will make concerted efforts, together with its members and bar associations nationwide, to realize the following matters as early as possible:
1.To promptly reduce the number of successful bar examinees to 1,500 per year;
2.To make the scale of law schools appropriate in order to improve the quality of education, and to ensure the diversity of law school students and reduce the financial and time burdens imposed on the students who are seeking to become legal professionals. Further, as regards the preliminary examination for the bar examination, to run the operation of such examination consistent with the intended purpose thereof (namely, to ensure a path for persons who do not go to law school due to financial reasons, etc. to obtain the qualification to become legal professionals); and
3.To enhance the legal training and realize the allowance payment system for legal apprentices and to set up an allowance during the legal training period as a provisional-type financial support system so that those who seek to become legal professionals will not give up such aim due to financial reasons, and also so that legal apprentices will be able to focus on their legal training.
March 11, 2016
Japan Federation of Bar Associations