04 April 2016

Too many lawyers, too few cases for Japan

A government-engineered surge in the number of lawyers in the last 15 years has not created a good marketplace for law firms, says The Wall Street Journal.

By Victoria Basham

Sakarin Sawasdinaka

Officials intended to breathe dynamism into society by mimicking the Western legal system and kicked off a plan to double the number of lawyers. But with crime near a record low and bankruptcies plunging, many lawyers are struggling to find work.

‘It’s getting a lot harder to make ends meet, no doubt about it,’ commented law firm co-owner Shinichi Sakano.

Private attorneys’ average income almost halved between 2006 and 2014, from ¥17.5m to ¥9m – about $80,000. There has been a sharp drop in the number of students applying to Japan’s law schools in the past decade, with lengthy training and hefty costs likely contributing factors.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal; The Wall Street Journal (1)

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