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Results of the second national bar examination held under a new system were announced Sept. 13. Just 1,851 graduates of the law schools established under the system passed for a success ratio of 40 percent — down eight percentage points from last year. This suggests that the quality of law school students is not high. The schools must improve their quality of education and refuse to give diplomas to under-performers.

To meet increasing and diversified demand for lawyers and other legal professionals, the Justice System Reform Council proposed creation of new postgraduate law schools and 74 new law schools were established in 2004 and 2005. The schools have the task of supplying an adequate number of legal professionals who have broad visions and distinct abilities. The ministry hopes that the number of successful applicants in the bar exam will gradually increase to 3,000 in 2010, but the results of this year’s bar exam suggest that the future of the new system to nurture legal professionals is not bright and that this goal will be difficult to achieve.

In the first exam held last year, only graduates of the two-year course designed for those who had studied law as undergraduates took part. Of the 2,091 applicants, 1,009 passed. The success ratio was 48 percent. This year, 4,607 graduates from 68 of the 74 law schools took the bar exam. They consisted of graduates of the two-year course and graduates of the three-year course for those who had pursued other fields as undergraduates. Graduates of the three-year course are to be the core of legal professionals with a broad vision and distinct abilities. But their success ratio was a disappointing 32 percent.

The Justice Ministry must address this situation by improving the quality of law school graduates even if it means slowing down the process to produce a large number of lawyers. It is important to strengthen the present system used to evaluate the quality of education given by law schools.

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