The Legal Training and Research Institute is a training institution attached to the Supreme Court in accordance to Article 14 of the Court Act. After passing the bar exam, in order to engage in legal profession, you must first be appointed as a legal apprentice (Article 66 (1) of the same Act) and are required to finish the legal training (Article 67 (1) of the same Act), which is conducted and operated by the Legal Training and Research Institute. In short, it is a training facility to turn the successful examinee of the bar exam into legal professionals.
The current curriculum of legal training consists of introductory training, field-specific practical training, elective practical training, and collective training. In both field-specific and elective practical training, the apprentices are assigned to district courts, district public prosecutors' offices, and bar associations around the country to gain practical experiences in the four fields: civil trials, criminal trials, prosecutions, and defense. For the introductory and collective training, apprentices gather at the Legal Training and Research Institute located in Wako City in Saitama Prefecture. There, they are divided into groups to study the five subjects - civil trials, criminal trial, prosecution, civil defense, and criminal defense - where the focus is on classroom teaching, workshops, and drafting (at the time of writing this article, the collective training for the 73rd apprentice groups and introductory training for the 74th Apprentice groups are provided online due to COVID-19).
At the end of the year-long period as a legal apprentice, you have to take the legal apprentice examination (so-called second examination). You can finish the legal training (Article 67 (1) of the above Act) and you are finally called to the bar only when you pass this exam.
The division in charge of civil defense - one of the five subjects studied in legal training - is the civil defense instructors' office as stated above where there are 10 or more instructors and 3 sho-tsuki. It is the instructors who actually teach the students on the podium. Sho-tsuki functions as their assistants, and they are given a very wide range of tasks including the preparation of civil defense curricula; the schedule management for preparing, printing and distributing teaching materials such as sample case records; and the liaison and coordination between the Legal Training and Research Institute and the instructors' office. I personally see sho-tsuki as the manager who helps the instructors' office to function smoothly as a whole.
However, they are not that well-known among the apprentices (prospective legal professionals) as there are few opportunities that sho-tsuki and the apprentices come into direct contact.
It was a very meaningful experience to go through the second legal training as sho-tsuki at civil defense instructors' office.
Preparing curricula gave me the opportunity to re-immerse myself in the main issues and material facts of the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Civil Execution Act, the Civil Provisional Remedies Act, etc., and I was also able to learn practical know-how from the instructors at civil defense instructors' office who each had a career of more than 20 years as a lawyer. In normal business, it's not that often you get to see how other lawyers work. However, at the civil defense instructors' office, curricula are developed through dynamic discussions by the lawyers with the depth of experience in different field. It was an amazing learning opportunity for me with not enough experience to witness at first hand, their legal knowledge, drafting tips, techniques for collecting evidence and handling cases, and how to build trust with clients. I occasionally attended their lectures with the legal apprentices. These lectures covered so many useful aspects that could come to trouble you in real life as a lawyer. Receiving legal training again myself after becoming a practitioner, I honestly felt I should have taken it much more seriously in the first place when I was myself an apprentice. If you are going to start legal apprenticeship, I'd really recommend that you pay meticulous attention to the words and movement of the instructors so you can learn from them for your own future work.
After leaving the civil defense instructors' office, I became a part-time lecturer in the Chuo Law School in the 2019 academic year. I have been mainly in charge of the civil case document preparation classes where, hopefully, my experience in legal training would prove useful.
Yurie Ikari was born in Fukuoka Prefecture.
She graduated from Chikushigaoka High School in Fukuoka Prefecture.
She graduated from the Department of Law, the Faculty of Law, Chuo University in 2008.
She graduated from the Chuo Law School (with degree) and passed the bar examination in 2010.
She was registered as a 64th group lawyer (Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association) and joined Kanichi Hayashi Law Office in 2011.
She worked as sho-tsuki at civil defense instructors’ office at the Legal Training and Research Institute from 2016 to January 2019.
She has served as part-time lecturer in the Chuo Law School since 2019.
She has also served as Vice Chairperson of the Consumer Affairs Committee of the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association since 2019.