Forget Law School Let’s Just Take The Preliminary Test Say Japanese Students

Interesting piece in Japan-News….


Just in case you were thinking of hiring a Japanese lawyer it might be worth taking a closer look at their CV in  future….


This year, 12,622 people applied for a preliminary test that opens the door for people who didn’t attend law school to take the bar examination, surpassing for the first time the number of law school applicants in the country.

For Japan’s law schools, who accepted a total 11,450 applications for the current academic year, this an alarming inversion. Despite the fact that the preliminary test was introduced as an exceptional measure, its popularity has outstripped that of law school.

“Going to law school costs more than ¥3 million worth of tuition,” a senior at Nihon University’s undergraduate College of Law said. He said if he were to go on to law school: “It would take a few more years before I would be able take the bar examination. Naturally I want to aim for to shortest path possible to taking the bar exam.”

He plans to take the preliminary test for a third consecutive year. The test is conducted in stages from May 18 to Oct. 26.

Under the current system, introduced in 2006, aspiring lawyers who take the bar examination are supposed to have finished law school, where students are mainly taught practical legal matters. The preliminary test is meant for those who cannot afford law school or who do not have the time necessary for formal schooling.

In 2011, the first year of the preliminary test, about 8,900 people applied for it, and the number of applicants has been on the rise ever since.

That increase can be attributed to greater numbers of applications coming from law school students as well as undergraduates who are considering advancing into law school. “Some people are using the test for a practice test [in preparation for the bar examination],” an informed official said.

That the number of law school applicants has declined so sharply since its 2004 peak of 72,800 shows that students and others are placing greater importance on the preliminary test than on attending law school. “The graduate-school centered system has began to crumble as the scale of the preliminary test swelled,” said Prof. Koji Nakayama of Meiji University’s Law School, who is also the chief of the Japan Association of Law Schools secretariat. “We should impose restrictions on who can take the preliminary test.”

The low bar passage rate among law school graduates, which has hovered around 25 percent, is another factor contributing to a drop in law school applications.

During discussions at a government panel of experts examining systems for the training of legal professionals, some members put the blame on law schools, saying that graduate school education is not living up to student expectations. As such, whether any restrictions on who is permitted to take the preliminary test will be imposed remains far from certain.

“Law schools will not survive unless they improve the quality of education they offer, through such means as building cooperative relationship with multiple schools,” said Hokkaido University Prof. Atsushi Miyawaki, who has extensive knowledge of legal profession training.