Shin Young-moo, a 65-year-old veteran lawyer whose election as chairperson of the Korean Bar Association was virtually predetermined, has vowed to tackle the unemployment issue facing new attorneys.
“This year, the Judicial Research and Training Institute produced 1,000 new attorneys. Of the total, (nearly) 45 percent remain unemployed,” said Shin.
“In the local legal market at crossroads, the livelihood issues facing young lawyers are serious. I will work hard to create jobs for the young legal professionals.”
Shin made the remarks after an association of Seoul-based lawyers Monday recommended him as its candidate for the two-year chairmanship at the nationwide bar association.
For the indirect vote to pick the chairman, slated for Feb. 28th, a total of 14 regional associations will recommend their candidates. Then delegates with the voting rights take part in the vote. As 70 percent of the delegates belong to the Seoul association, the one recommended by Seoul lawyers is due to clinch the chairman post.
Shin, a founder of Shin & Kim, one of the country’s largest law firms, has pledged to create 3,000 new jobs for local lawyers and establish a special center to support young attorneys.
“I will persuade the National Assembly and the Supreme Court to introduce a system under which young lawyers with legal experience of less than five years are hired as law clerks, and seek to establish a presidential body to address unemployment issues involving young lawyers and law-school graduates,” he said.
The unemployment rate among those ― who completed the two-year mandatory training program at the Judicial Research and Training Institute after having passed the state bar exam ― gradually increased to 44.1 percent in 2009 and 44.4 percent in 2010 from 36 percent in 2008.
The prospect for the new legal professionals next year appears even bleaker as the nation’s first group of 1,500 law-school graduates, in addition to the 1,000 graduates of the JRTI, join the tough competition in the legal market.
Pointing out problems with the country’s nascent law-school system, Shin has also pledged to review the need to enhance the school system, which was introduced here in 2009 to produce more lawyers and make high-quality legal services more affordable.
“Due to the law schools which were introduced without a thorough review and research into them, confusion in the legal market may increase next year. We need to devise measures to deal with the lawmakers who will pour out into the market,” Shin said.
Shin graduated from the law department of Seoul National University in 1967 and passed the bar exam in 1968. He received his master’s degree at the same university in 1970. He obtained his doctorate at Yale University in 1978.
After serving as a judge at the Daejeon District Court from 1973-75, he established Shin & Kim in November 1980, which has now grown into one of the country’s largest law firms with around 200 staff lawyers. He currently serves as an advisor for the firm after stepping down from the top post there last December.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)