The Brave New World of Lawyers in Japan Revisited: Proceedings of a Panel Discussion on the Japanese Legal Profession After the 2008 Financial Crisis and the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake
Bruce E. Aronson
Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy
August 3, 2011
Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, vol. 21, no. 2, p. 255, 2012
In the United States, the 2008 financial crisis had a serious impact on a legal profession that had been growing strongly for three decades, highlighting fundamental issues concerning the business and educational models of both law firms and law schools. This raises the interesting question of how Japan, with its much shorter history of large law firms and professional law schools, has been affected by the 2008 financial crisis and also by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and ongoing nuclear reactor crisis.
At a recent conference sponsored by the University of Washington School of Law and Perkins Coie, a distinguished group of legal practitioners from the leading Japanese and foreign law firms in Tokyo engaged in a panel discussion which examined the current state of Japan’s legal profession. The panelists saw both the 2008 financial crisis and the Tohoku earthquake as one-time events that will not have significant long-term impact. Despite a lesser economic impact in Japan, however, the 2008 financial crisis raised fundamental issues similar to those in the United States concerning the appropriate models for large law firms and law schools. The panelists supported the goals and direction of recent Japanese reforms that overhauled the system of legal education and increased the number of lawyers despite a number of current problems, and explicitly embraced a new model for the legal profession: rather than the traditional small elite with a narrow societal role, the Japanese bar would be significantly expanded and compete to fill a wide range of law-related roles in society.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: Japan, lawyers, legal profession, legal education, law firm
JEL Classification: J44, K40, K20, L84
Date posted: May 30, 2012 ; Last revised: December 6, 2013