[EDITORIALS]The law school debateThe Supreme Court will hold an open forum on “A New Approach: How to Train Our Lawyers?” on July 25. The Ministry of Justice, Korean Bar Association, Ministry of Education and Human Resources and academics will participate. The discussion on training lawyers and the law school system, which is being resumed after a four-year hiatus, is attracting attention because the judiciary, which is known to oppose the establishment of law schools in Korea, is sponsoring the forum.
The debate on training our legal professionals was in full swing in 1995. The Globalization Commission, which was established as a pan-national organization, placed legal services and education in law on the national agenda and promoted the introduction of American-style law schools here. But the move was met with strong opposition from people in the legal community. It only succeeded in increasing the number of people who pass the state law examination to one thousand a year. In the Kim Dae-jung administration, the debate was restarted by a group of advisers to the president. But the law school question was not settled, as opinions on the advisory group varied widely.
The reality is that today, not only law school students, but many science and engineering students aim to pass the state law examination. As a result, the number of applicants exceeds 30,000 a year, and universities are turning into cram schools for the state law examination. Students do not want to study basic sciences or engineering. If bright students rush to take the state law examination, how can Korea remain competitive in a knowledge-based society?
Japan has decided to establish graduate law schools at 72 universities nationwide. The move is intended to professionalize law, rather than maintaining the existing system of going into the legal profession only after passing a government exam.
Improving the system for training people in legal profession is a national task. We have to approach it with the aim of enhancing competitiveness and training seasoned lawyers. We hope the forum bears fruit.