Vanderbilt Law Review


Mark D. West

First Page



How insulting to have juxtaposed "lawyers" and "gangsters" in the title, to hint that lawyers are not engaged in a supremely noble profession, to insinuate a commonality between counselors-at-law and godfathers. There will be no explicit comparisons here, for this is an Essay about Japanese legal education, not La Cosa Nostra. Instead I offer a description of how Japan trains its lawyers and what lawyers in Japan do. I'll also talk a bit about how gangsters in Japan are trained, and what they do. Perhaps a serendipitous connection will present itself.

I begin by briefly discussing the old system of training Japanese lawyers and some of the forces that led to the breakdown of that system. I then detail and analyze the new system, much of which was borrowed from the United States after careful investigation. Finally, I offer a few words about Japanese gangsters, the yakuza. It's not impossible that the story suggests similarities between lawyers and their illegal counterparts.