Go to contents

Law School Quota Sparks Controversy

Posted October. 18, 2007 03:17,   


The Law school enrollment quota released by the Education Ministry met with a mixed response yesterday.

While universities and civic groups strongly oppose the government’s plan for capping the number of students attending law schools, the law circle seems to believe the quota is appropriate.

Major universities, including Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University, argue that the proposed quota of 1,500 to 2000 cannot properly live up to the plan’s original intentions, and are seeking joint measures to protest the government measure.

Law professor Lee Gi-su at Korea University, who is also currently serving as president of the Korean Law Professor Association, said, “In the latest meeting with the deans of law schools, there have been discussions to boycott the introduction of law schools if the quota is set below 2,500,” adding, “I will come up with strong countermeasures.”

The president of the law school at Seoul National University, Ho Mun-hyeok, said, “In order to provide various programs and curriculums that reflect the initial purpose of the system, the minimum quota should be set at over 300 for each school.”

The main reason for the opposition from major universities is that the reduction of the number of total pool of students is likely to decrease the total quota of each school, but also make it hard for them to be designated as a law school.

National universities in local provinces expect the application of “one law school in one province,” and pay close attention to the possibility of attracting law school in their schools.

President of the law school at Kyungpook National University Jang Jae-hyeon said, “Even if a local university is designated as a law school, the total number of first-year law students will be a lot smaller. In the case of some local national universities, it will be much more difficult for them to be appointed as law schools.”

“The purpose of the reformation of the law school system is to enhance law services for the public, but the government’s measure apparently only took recommendations from legal industry into consideration,” argued Wi Jeong-hui, department director of the Citizens Coalition for Economic Justice.

The legal circles that have demanded the quota to be set between 1,200 and 1,500 seem satisfied with the government’s announcement.

A spokesperson of the Korea Bar Association, Choi Tae-hyeong, stated, “The proposed number coincides with the original intention that the proposed system will increase the number but maintain the quality of lawyers.” An official of the high court said, “The interests of the court lie in whether the curriculums and training programs will be adequately administrated, rather than the total quota of law school students.”

Justice Minister Jeong Seong-jin said in a special lecture provided in SNU that, “The unintended side effects of increasing the quota should be considered. Although the argument of the universities and civic groups demanding the larger pool of the quota has a point, their recommendation does not properly reflect reality.”

pen@donga.com cij1999@donga.com