[EDITORIALS]Law school system’s potentialThe Judicial Reform Committee of the Supreme Court yesterday finalized a plan that will pave the way for a law school system in Korea in 2008. When the new system is introduced, the current state law examination will be abolished in 2013.
The decision to introduce a law school system is appropriate in view of the imminent opening of the legal market. It is urgent that we raise judicial officers who have international competitiveness.
A law school system was promoted in 1995 during the Kim Young-sam administration for the purposes of normalizing legal education and solving the problem of a large number of state law exam failures. But the plan encountered strong opposition from legal circles. A compromise thus found was increasing the number of successful applicants of the state law examination. Now that the law school plan is finalized, the controversy over its introduction is over after nine years.
There are still many unsolved issues in the plan. It has yet to make decision on the number of students a law school can accept each year. Over this issue, the opinions of committee members and law professors have been acutely confrontational. In addition, the ratio of lawyers to professors and the minimum number of full-time professors have not yet been decided.
While the universities are expected to hotly compete for law schools, the permission standards are to be decided through consultations among the ministers of education, justice and judicial administration, the president of the Korean Bar Association and the chairman of the Association of Law Professors. It means that the controversy over the issue will continue.
For the success of the law school system, the current education program that focuses on raising scholars of law should be changed to focusing on raising law practitioners. Also, we have to raise not only lawyers who will work on domestic litigation cases, but also compete in the international arena.
In the 1990s, some Japanese businessmen criticized Japanese lawyers saying, “While 80 percent of litigation takes place in international courts, Japanese lawyers are useful only for 20 percent of judicial cases handled by the Japanese courts.”
We have to provide education programs and secure competent teachers so that we can train professional lawyers who can use their knowledge in the subjects they majored in at college.