A dirty turf war

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A dirty turf war

More than half of the 947 lawyers-to-be who passed the national bar exam chose not to show up on the opening day of the mandatory two-year training institute.

The future judges, prosecutors and lawyers staged an unprecedented boycott of the training program to protest the Ministry of Justice’s recent decision to employ law school graduates as prosecutors. Some trainees held banners demanding the withdrawal of the decision in front of a podium at the training institute’s opening ceremony.

It is regrettable to witness our country’s future law practitioners resorting to such collective action for self-serving purposes.

Judicial trainees are de facto public servants. Under current judicial law, those who pass the national bar examination are required to undergo a two-year training period, which includes an internship program, at the Judicial Research and Training Institute under the auspices of the Supreme Court in order to obtain the qualification to become a judge, prosecutor or lawyer.

No matter the reason, public officials should not stage protest rallies and collective action. The trainees who started the training period last year also issued a statement condemning the ministry’s decision to hire law school graduates for prosecutor positions.

Such a clash was foreseen because of a conflict of interest between the conventional system - the national bar exam - and the new system - law schools.

The government in 2007 passed a law to create American-style three-year law schools to diversify the pool of lawyers and improve the selectiveness and introverted nature of the judicial circle, which stems from the single bar exam system of selecting legal professionals. The government plans to gradually scrap the old bar exam.

The Justice Ministry, speaking for the prosecutors’ office, said candidates for state prosecutor positions will be selected among the top students from law schools. The district courts are also considering hiring law clerks from among top graduates.

Lawyers have also joined the fight, fearing they will lose access to the best law school students to courts and prosecutors. The Justice Ministry should take responsibility for sparking the conflict through a half-baked idea.

The nation’s judiciary circles should put their heads together to come up with a mutually beneficial solution for all parties involved to put an end to the feud.
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