Deterioration or refinement? Impacts of an increasing number of lawyers on the lawyer discipline system in Japan

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This paper discusses the impacts of an increasing number of lawyers (bengoshi) on the lawyer discipline system in Japan. Due to a relatively small number of lawyers up until the 1990s, few people, including citizens and lawyers themselves, cared about the misconduct of lawyers. However, there appears to be a recent change in this tendency. The sudden increase in the number of lawyers after the Justice System Reform in 2001 focused citizens’ awareness on quality in the practice of law. Some lawyers claim that the increase in the number of young lawyers has deteriorated the quality of legal services, thereby damaging public trust in lawyers. In this paper, I analyze lawyer discipline cases from 1988 to 2015 that are available to the public. The result shows that while the number of disciplinary cases actually has increased since 2004, it is not young lawyers but primarily experienced senior members who have contributed to the increase. In conclusion, I argue that an increase in lawyer discipline is a positive phenomenon for the Japanese bar in developing detailed ethical standards, thereby providing better legal services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-257
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of the Legal Profession
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep 2


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Law

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