Prosecution avoiding hiring law school grads

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Prosecution avoiding hiring law school grads

The number of the new U.S.-style law-school graduates appointed as prosecutors this year has decreased by 10 percent from last year.

Legal experts state this may partially be due to damage done to the image of law school-graduate prosecutors following the recent sex and bribery scandal involving a neophyte law school prosecutor which resulted in a public outcry.

The Ministry of Justice selected 37 prosecutor candidates, five less than last year, according to a report by local legal paper The Law Times.

The 30-year-old incumbent prosecutor surnamed Jeon, a first-generation graduate of the law school system, commissioned last March and in a training program in Seoul as an acting prosecutor, was accused of having sex with a criminal suspect he was investigating in a theft case last November.

In 2009, the government allowed the opening of 25 U.S.-style law schools.

Only students who complete three years of schooling are eligible to take the new bar exam.

This system replaces the former nationwide bar exam, which was open to everyone and is currently being phased out by 2018.

Every year, 2,000 aspiring law professionals enter school. The Justice Ministry decided that only 75 percent of them, or 1,500 people, will pass the bar and 1,411 of the first round of graduates passed the bar early this year.

Last year, a total of 62 prosecutors were selected from both the old and new systems.

“Compared to the old bar exam system, more prosecutors with diverse backgrounds are being appointed, so there is concern that more ‘incidents’ like the sex scandal may occur,” said a senior prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

A Seoul-based law school professor stated, “It is not appropriate to have Prosecutor Jeon’s personal problems cast a shadow on the image of all law school graduates and prosecution.”

Seoul National University produced the highest number of prosecutor candidates with 10, two higher than last year, while Sungkyunkwan University came in second and produced five prosecutors, beating Yonsei, Korea and Hanyang Universities at three each.

Regional law schools did not fare as well this year, as over 80 percent of prosecutor candidates are from Seoul, said the report.

Chungnam National University’s law school in Daejeon, which produced five prosecutors last year, has only one candidate this year.

Nine other law schools did not produce a single candidate.

The prosecutor candidates will receive final confirmation depending on the results of the upcoming February bar exams.

The Ministry of Justice in the meantime is in process of replacing the vacant prosecutor general’s post since Han Sang-dae stepped down in November in the wake of a series of corruption scandals and unprecedented internal division.

By Sarah Kim, Shim Sae-rom []
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