Report on joint Academic & Professional Development Committee and Young Lawyers’ Committee visit to Sungkyunkwan University

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Lewis Patrick

Co-Chair APDC

27 September 2019


On the last day of the 2019 IBA Annual Conference in Seoul, a joint delegation from the Academic and Professional Development Committee (APDC) and the Young Lawyers Committee (YLC) visited the Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU). The delegation consisted of Christopher Howard and Lewis Patrick from the APDC and Michelle Bakhos and Zeina Obeid from the YLC.

SKKU is Korea’s oldest university, founded in 1398. It reopened as a private university in 1948, after the Second World War. It is a private comprehensive research university which first offered an undergraduate Law degree in 1982. In 2009, the School of Law was established, which now offers postgraduate degrees only.

The School of Law has about 550 students. Its main offering is a three-year JD programme with a curriculum that prepares students for the national bar exam. Passing the national bar exam is the main requirement for admission as a lawyer in South Korea. Entry requirements for the JD programme are onerous and include a sufficiently high grade point average in an undergraduate degree; tests in critical reading, logical reasoning and writing; proficiency in English; a 3000 word letter of self-introduction and an interview.

Alongside the JD programme, the School of Law offers a Masters of Law programme; a PhD programme; and an SJD program for legal practitioners who wish to specialise. The School also an innovative personal development program called ‘Brain Korea 21+’ – the only Korean university to offer such a programme in the field of Law.

The visit was very graciously hosted by the Dean, Professor Kim, and members of his faculty who explained the Korean legal system and the work of the School of Law and answered the delegation’s questions. The delegation had the opportunity to present to a small group of students on the work of the IBA, particularly of the Young Lawyers Committee, and on the essential requirements for a successful career in law. Although small in number, the students were very engaged with the presentations.

The delegation was then treated to a tour of the historic campus by one of the law students and to a delicious (Western) lunch in the faculty dining room which was hosted by Professor Goedde, who had herself been a panelist at one of the annual conference sessions.

The delegation agreed with the Dean that the relationship established by the visit should be continued, with ongoing communication about the work of the IBA.