Six years ago when the Liberal Democratic Party overhauled the legal system and established the lay judge system, the revisions also included measures to increase the number of practicing lawyers in Japan by changing the juridical education and certification systems. Logically, that would mean allowing more people who took the bar examination to pass. The aim was an extra 3,000 law professionals entering the market each year, and though this target hasn’t been achieved on a regular basis (2,074 passed the test this year), the increase in the number of lawyers has had a big effect on incomes.
There were about 17,000 lawyers in Japan in 2000, and by 2008 the number had increased to more than 25,000. The government estimates that this number will double by 2018. Consequently, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, five years ago, before the influx of new blood was felt in the marketplace, the average attorney made between ¥16 and ¥20 million a year. Last year, the average attorney income had dropped to ¥8 million. No wonder you see so many lawyers these days moonlighting as TV talent.