Legal apprentices sue over lost stipend

Kyodo

Around 200 former legal apprentices sued the government Friday, demanding compensation for the 2011 abolition of stipends for people in a required apprenticeship program before entering the legal profession.

The lawsuit was filed simultaneously with the district courts in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Hiroshima by four groups of the ex-apprentices.

The plaintiffs said they were denied the monthly stipend of around ¥200,000 due to a revision to the court law. People in the apprenticeship have passed the bar but have to go through the program before they can fully enter the legal profession.

They argue that the stipend system should be revived because killing it made no sense, and that they be paid ¥10,000 in symbolic damages.

They claim some law students have been forced to give up on their dream of pursuing a legal profession due to the loss of financial support.

The stipend system was abolished in November 2011 as a government cost-cutting measure. It was replaced with a loan system.

Legal apprentices are not allowed to take outside part-time jobs while following the course and under the new system some have had to borrow as much as ¥3 million, the plaintiffs said.