Young lawyers in South Korea are in open rebellion over what they see to be unfair practicing in government hiring and bar admissions. The South Korean government had recently announced that prosecutors would be hired based solely on a dean's recommendation and interview; no objective criteria (such as grades) would be involved.
The opportunity for nepotism and abuse of personal connections is obvious. Last week, nearly 2000 law students demonstrated outside of the Judicial Research and Training Institute in opposition to the new hiring policy. Additionally, 500 of the 974 recent bar exam passers have refused to join the Institute's training program, which is mandatory for all lawyers. The Institute has vowed punishment against the young "rebels."
The selection of prosecutors in Korea is touchy not just for the prestige of the job. People selected as prosecutors are exempt from taking the bar exam. No surprise that got a lot of people pissed off.
Shin Hyun-yoon, head of the Yonsei University Law School, defended the selection process:
The graduates with a variety of career and academic backgrounds will diversify and vitalize the prosecution. The deans will make choices based on academic credits.
Apparently the argument is that deans will be more fair in their hand-selection of prosecutors than some other process would have been, like a standardized test or using class rank and grades.
The Justice Ministry is standing by the policy, and oddly pointed to the American law school system in its defense:
The initial goal of law schools is to open up the legal circles to more people. The system is already executed in the U.S. and proved successful. There will be some setbacks in the beginning, but we will pursue it to the end.
I suppose they are unaware of our problems with lawyer unemployment, ridiculous debt burdens, and a failure of law schools to prepare their graduates for work in the real world.
One protester pointed out another problem with a process that allows prosecutors to bypass the bar exam:
Some law schools don’t teach the criminal code, fraud or even murder. How can their students become prosecutors?
Oh yeah, that sounds familiar.