EDITORIAL: Nation's Law Schools Must Improve for the Good of the Profession, Society

Article excerpt

If things are left as they are, talented young people may no longer be attracted to careers in law. The nation's law schools, meant to be the core of efforts to foster legal professionals, have fallen into a critical situation.

The number of people who passed this year's national bar exam after graduating from law school stood at 1,929. The pass rate remains low. Hovering around 26 percent, it is a far cry from the 70-80 percent rate originally assumed.

In light of such a reality, students are becoming less interested in going to law school. The number of applicants for law school enrollment this spring has fallen to one-fifth of what it was at its peak.

The popularity of law departments at universities is also declining. At national and other public universities, the number of students applying to law departments has fallen by about 10 percent over the past two years.

As one of the three branches of government depends on a strong pool of legal talent, the foundation of a state under the rule of law may be shaken if the number of young people who aspire to enter legal circles declines.

The first law schools opened in 2004 to further judicial system reform by "fostering an ample source of legal professionals both in terms of quality and quantity." The schools were initially expected to produce work-ready law practitioners equipped with specialized knowledge and legal analytical abilities.

Yet as the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry broadly allowed many academic institutions to open law schools, as many as 74 law schools with varying levels of quality have opened. As a result, a number of schools had only single-digit numbers of their students pass the national exam for the year.

Weed out subpar schools

Next fiscal year, the education ministry is set to cut its subsidies to 18 law schools that have failed to produce strong results, as the pass rate of their students remains low. …