First Law School Closes … In Japan

Editorial, “Reviewing Legal Education Reform,” Japan Times.

In the last decade, Japan went on a 74-law-school binge (!!) because too many people were failing its bar exam. The belief was that American-style law schools would better-train people to pass the test. Instead, the result is more law school graduates who’ve wasted a lot of money on a legal education that opens no doors to them. It’s an old, old story that I’ve written on before here and here.

So the Japan Times is back with another editorial on the topic. Now it appears that people have wised up to the Failing-Law-Schools-Japan-Edition, and they’re not applying. The result is that one law school shuttered its doors in March. The government’s current solutions are to drop its 3,000 annual bar passage rate target and consolidate some of the law schools. Kill the metric, not the messenger.

The Times believes the problem is that some law schools are just bad at teaching to the test, not the licensing system itself, so it argues:

The government, bar associations and law schools should redesign the system for nurturing legal professionals. They should think about how to increase [rural] job opportunities for novice lawyers and how to improve legal services for people even if the pace of reform slows.

Although the editorial may be right that the government isn’t willing to analyze “what went wrong,” it too still seems unwilling to admit that American-style legal education doesn’t in any way increase access to legal services or create jobs (except in the law schools). That’s the lesson that’s slowly being learned in the United States with no thanks to resistance from law schools and indifference by licensing authorities. Can someone direct me to the first Japanese law school scamblog?


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