61st JFBA General Meeting -Declaration Requesting Retention of the Allowance Payment System for Judicial Apprentices and Financial Support to Law School Students for Achieving the Justice for Citizens-
Six years have passed since law schools opened and the new professional legal training and education system, a pillar of the justice system in the 21st century, has been steadily achieving its objectives. However, various problems have also been pointed out and concrete measures to improve the system are now well underway.
In order to ensure that the new professional legal training and education system truly works to produce so-called “doctors for people's social lives,” it is obvious that the gate for legal professionals should be open for everybody regardless of their financial circumstances. Ensuring the professional legal training and education system is one which allows anyone with high motivation to pursue the path to becoming a legal professional is a crucial foundation for achieving the “justice for citizens” for which the JFBA is aiming.
From this standpoint, the JFBA has been tackling the issues of financial support for the professional legal training and education system since the designing phase of the system. At the Extraordinary General Meeting in 2000, in which the JFBA adopted a resolution on its active involvement in establishing a law school system, the JFBA urged the State to provide sufficient financial support for the law school system. In addition, the JFBA adopted the Resolution Requesting Retention of the Allowance Payment System for Judicial Apprentices in 2003.
However, the State’s financial support for law schools is extremely insufficient. Law school students have to bear a huge financial burden from admission to law school until they become judicial apprentices. According to the JFBA’s research, some are heavily in debt of over 10 million yen. Furthermore, the Court Act was amended to abolish the allowance payment system for judicial apprentices but loan money to them instead. This amendment will come into force this November.
Even though improvement of the new professional legal training and education system is seriously discussed, many more diverse candidates with superior quality would have no choice but give up their ambitions to be legal professionals because of financial reasons if financial support to law school students is not enhanced and the allowance payment system is abolished. That would accelerate the declining trend in the number of people who want to be legal professionals. As a consequence, all efforts to improve the new professional legal training and education system could be derailed.
As we addressed in the “Recommendations Requesting Financial Support to Law School Students and Judicial Apprentices” in 2009, in order to prevent the situation where persons without sufficient financial capabilities give up being legal professionals and to smoothly promote the current movement toward the improvement of the professional legal training and education system, the JFBA urges the State to:
- Review the amendment to the Court Act, which will come into force this November, and maintain the allowance payment system for judicial apprentices.
- Enhance the financial support to law school students, including the establishment of scholarships, broadening the scope of loan forgiveness programs, and enhancement of free or reduced tuition fees.
In order to tackle the pressing issue of the abolition of the allowance payment system, the JFBA launched the Emergency Central Board on Allowance Payment System and will make every effort to maintain the system.
May 28, 2010