Bar Exam

Think the Bar Exam Is Tough? Be Thankful You Don’t Live in Japan


Studying for the bar exam can be a grueling and pressure-filled process. But it’s worse in Japan, where so few people pass the bar that some law schools are voluntarily restricting enrollment.

This year, Japanese law schools admitted 3,620 students, down from 5,800 in 2006, the New York Times reports.

Law schools are apparently reacting to grim bar-passage rates. Last year, only 25 percent of test takers passed the Japanese bar exam, the lowest rate since 2006 when a reformulated test was offered, the story says. Before that, only 2 percent to 3 percent passed the bar.

Unsuccessful test takers have to give up sooner rather than later, since they are limited to three tries on the bar exam.

Japan has 74 law schools. Two of them had no graduates who passed the bar in 2010. The school with the best bar passage rate had only 50 percent of its graduates pass.

Critics say the low passage rate defeats reforms adopted in 2004 that were designed to admit more lawyers to the profession to work in rural and other areas where there was a lawyer shortage.

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