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Legal Education Across The Globe Needs Improvement

published October 22, 2010

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Harvard Law School hosted the FutureEd 2 program on Friday. This year’s program focused on the topic of incorporating globalization into legal education.

Legal teachers from China, India, Japan and France sat on a panel for a discussion about the problems they have in producing the appropriate amount of lawyers who are also of good quality.

Peking University Law School professor Zhang Qi spoke of China’s issue with employment. According to Qi, China produces far more law school grads than can possibly be employed.

In 2008, China had more than 780,000 registered law students, which is up 200% from 30 years ago. ''Expansion is not bad, but over-expansion is not a good thing,'' said Qi.

Qi also spoke of the quality of law school graduates in China. He said, ''What students have learned in law school is not what they learn in legal practice.'' According to Qi, law school graduates in China do not know how to write legal memos, draft documents or negotiate deals.

Qi said that the majority of legal educators in China believe that a legal degree does not benefit from being a popular degree for the masses, but rather, it should be a degree for an elite few.

C. Raj Kumar, the dean of Jindal Global Law School located in Haryana, India, claimed that India faced issues not unlike China. ''There is a crisis in legal education in India,'' said Kumar. ''Mediocrity is institutionalized in the Indian bar.''

While there are more than 1,000 law schools in India, Kumar claims that only 14 of those are what he would consider highly regarded. High ranking officials in India are criticizing legal education in their country, deeming it to be of inferior quality. In an effort to raise the quality of student, soon, law students in India will have to pass an entrance exam before starting their law school studies.

Additionally, Kumar said that access to justice was a big problem in India.

University of Tokyo Law School professor Daniel Foote said that Japan is facing a lack of lawyers. Ten years ago, only 3% of those who took the Japanese Bar Exam were able to pass. In 2004, the country reformed the legal education system into a three-year, graduate-level program, similar to the system in the United States.

Japan now sees around 2,000 students passing the bar each year. That is up from 500.