Document Type


Publication Date

January 2010


This paper describes and analyzes Japan’s reform of legal education. This reform that began in 2004—a new system of legal education, coupled with changes in the national bar examination and in the national legal training institute for successful exam-takers—was part of a wideranging national law reform movement in Japan. As a result, 74 universities across Japan established graduate-level “law schools,” most of which were added to pre-existing undergraduate law departments. The new law schools provide a degree equivalent to an American Juris Doctor (JD) degree. These law degrees became the main prerequisite for taking the national bar exam. The pass rate for the bar exam was supposed to increase from an anemic 3% to about 70%, as part of a national strategy to increase the number of Japanese lawyers. But due to a combination of factors the reform has not worked as planned.