Changing Training and Testing Process for Prospective Lawyers in Korea and the Effect on LL.M. Recruitment

Korean legal programs are currently restructuring the training process for prospective lawyers. Previously, the Korean bar exam was open to all applicants. However, new 2009 laws will restrict eligibility to those who have completed 3 year law programs in the coming decade. These developments will affect the recruitment of students for LL.M. programs in particular. Many law schools in the United States and EducationUSA are keeping an eye on these trends, and we will post updates as they become available.

Most U.S.-style law schools pass first evaluation

7 out of 25 receive warnings, but none determined to be unqualified

Jan 22,2013

Of the 25 newly formed U.S.-style law schools which dispatched their first set of graduates last year, 18 schools met all criteria in the first official evaluation conducted by the Korean Bar Association.

The remaining seven law schools, including Korea University, received a warning to improve their standards within a year, the bar association revealed yesterday.

Over the past three years, the Law School Evaluation Committee under the Korean Bar Association conducted a review of various criteria, including the quality of professors, curriculum, facilities and scholarship funds of the 25 Western-style law schools established by the government in 2009.

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.

The seven law schools that received warnings were: Hanyang, Korea and Sungkyunkwan universities in Seoul, Kangwon National University in Chuncheon, Dong-A University in Busan, Chonnam National University in Gwangju and Chungbuk National University in Cheongju.

These seven schools can receive approval by the committee by meeting the criteria that they failed to meet this time around within one year.

The evaluation process under regulation is conducted every five years, and this evaluation’s purpose was not to rank the schools but confirm that they meet minimal standards of 29 subsections under eight categories, including admissions, research opportunities, educational facilities and school’s objectives.

Of these schools, Chonnam and Chungbuk national universities had the highest number of areas to “improve” in, such as scholarship funds that fall short of the average and substandard legal clinic budgets for Chonnam.

In contrast, law schools including Kyung Hee University received “excellent” in eight criteria, Ajou and Ewha Womans universities in six and Seoul National University in five areas. Korea University received an excellent in eight areas and one warning for professors exceeding the standard average of lecture hours. No schools were evaluated as unqualified.

Han Boo-whan, 65, chair of the committee, said, “Some law schools have been advised to address the problems that have been revealed,” through the course of the evaluation. But he added that “overall, the law schools are being managed well.”

“It is important to emphasize that these schools met certain criteria and have an opportunity to qualify after they improve in certain areas in one year’s time,” the secretariat office of the evaluation committee.

“Because this is the first evaluation, it is very much a trial run,” a National Assembly representative stated yesterday. “In the future, the evaluation process will be expanded to include the percentage of students who pass the bar examination and other criteria.”

By Sarah Kim, Kim Ki-hwan []


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