Thu, Nov 11, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Justice Ministry aims for more legal reforms

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Justice is trying to train more qualified lawyers by amending the law and reforming the country's legal education system.

According to former vice justice minister Hsieh Wen-ding (謝文定), who just took oath for his new post as the prosecutor-general of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office on Nov. 5, the ministry is first working to amend the Attorney Regulation Law (律師法), so that government offices can use their own employees as legal representation in court. Currently, an employee of a government office cannot simultaneously work as that office's attorney.

Government offices should also encourage its employees who are qualified to take the bar exam to try their best to be admitted to the bars, Hsieh said.

"That will save the government lots of money because there is no need to spend extra on a budget for hiring lawyers," Hsieh said. "However, to do this, we have to amend the [law] first."

Hsieh said this new idea will improve the government's chances of winning lawsuits, because as an employee in the government office involved in a case, the lawyer will already be familiar with the office and vice versa.

"If you are defending for your own office, it goes without saying that you will do your best to win the case, no?" Hsieh said. "That is also a good thing for the government."

As for legal education, Hsieh said that the ministry is planning to upgrade basic law education to the graduate school level, so that the system is more like that in the US, where law schools are typically three-year graduate-level programs.

The ministry's plan for changing legal education is a part of judicial reforms that have been carried out by the Judicial Yuan since 1999.

In the current legal education system, a student qualifies to take the bar exam, the national exam for lawyers, after getting a law degree from a four-year college. Only one bar admission is required for those who want to practice law in Taiwan -- unlike in the US, in which different states require separate exams.

According to the ministry's plan, future lawyers will be required to complete their undergraduate education before they can enroll in a three-year graduate-level law school -- the same requirement as in the US. And they will become lawyers only after graduating from law school and passing the bar exam.

"This new idea will definitely improve the quality of our lawyers," Hsieh said.

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