Toughest job market for new Korean lawyers

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Toughest job market for new Korean lawyers

Illustrating the intensifying competition for jobs for lawyers, fewer than half of the graduates of the prestigious Judicial Research and Training Institute had landed jobs by graduation, which took place yesterday.

The percentage has been sagging for three years since Korea instituted a new training system for lawyers, an American-style law school, which started graduating lawyers in 2012. The Judicial Research and Training Institute will graduate its last batch of lawyers in 2020.

Of the 786 graduates who earned licenses to practice law yesterday, 179 males have chosen to start their mandatory military service. Besides them, 284 graduates have already landed jobs, an employment rate of 46.7 percent, 0.1 percent down from last year.

In 2012, only 40.9 percent of graduates had landed jobs by graduation, down from 56.1 percent in 2011.

The number of female graduates this year was 286, or 36 percent of the total.

“Our legal market is going through a fast expansion in size with nearly 20,000 lawyers in practice,” warned Yang Sung-tae, chief justice of the Supreme Court, in a graduation speech. “You will face daunting challenges.”

Competition in the legal market has grown significantly in recent years due to the introduction of the U.S.-style law school system, which produces about 2,000 new lawyers each year.

Of the 284 graduates who landed jobs, 107 were hired by law firms while 30 opened their own law offices and 46 applied for legal clerk positions.

Another group of 40 graduates applied to become prosecutors while 32 won jobs at public institutions, followed by 24 who were hired by private companies.

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