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Cablegate: Policy Changes On Legal Education Delivery

DE RUEHIN #3563/01 2910631
R 180631Z OCT 06






E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Policy Changes on Legal Education Delivery
Affect Development of Southern Taiwan's Law Schools


1. (U) Summary: Since the 1992 establishment of southern
Taiwan's first law degree program at National Chung Cheng
University (NCCU) in Chiayi, law programs offered in
southern Taiwan have never equaled in number or prestige
the law programs offered in northern Taiwan, the center
of the island's legal academia for the past sixty years.
Instead, southern law programs, which were established in
response to the public's outcry for the development of
legal education in the region, now face further
difficulties. Besides a chronic shortage of teachers,
Taiwan's educational authorities will regulate and limit
the number of additional law degree programs that
universities can offer in this academic year. The
region's only hope for additional educational resources
may be the exchange opportunities that will accompany the
introduction of the U.S. legal educational system into
Taiwan's law school instructional methods. End Summary.

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2. (U) There are currently five universities offering
law degree programs in southern Taiwan, but only one
university has an actual law college. National Chung
Cheng University (NCCU) in Chiayi County founded its
Graduate Institute of Law in 1992, offering the first law
degree program in southern Taiwan. NCCU subsequently
established its Department of Law in 1993. In 2001, the
NCCU Graduate Institute of Financial and Economic Law
created the first and the only Ph.D. program in law in
southern Taiwan. National Cheng Kung University (NCKU)
in Tainan City launched its Graduate Institute for Legal
Sciences in 1995 and its Department of Law in 2003.
National University of Kaohsiung (NUK) in Kaohsiung
County opened the only law college in southern Taiwan in
2002. National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) in
Kaohsiung City opened its Graduate Institute of Law in
2001. National First Kaohsiung University of Science and
Technology (NFKUST) introduced its Institute of Law and
Technology in 2002.

3. (U) NUK, founded in 2000, created the first College
of Law in 2002 from three previously established law
programs, including the Department of Law, the Department
of Government and Law, and the Department of Financial
and Economic Law. NUK established its College of Law in
response to the public's desire for a legal academic
program in southern Taiwan?s universities that could
support the need for legal professionals in the region.
Its major research fields include civil, criminal,
commercial, business, labor, social, and administrative
law. NUK also attempted to create a Ph.D. law program,
but the Education Ministry rejected its 2006 application
because the university's library collection does not meet
current criteria to support a doctoral program in the
field of law.

4. (U) In order to provide an opportunity for working
adults to study law, NUK also opened two evening law
programs in 2001. According to Professor Chi Chen-ching
of National Kaohsiung University, the majority of the
students enrolled in the evening programs are city/county
government employees, court clerks, police officers,
state-run business employees, and a small number of
medical and engineering professionals. Chi believes that
NUK law graduates working for government agencies have
made substantial contributions to improving the
effectiveness of the local government?s administration of
the rule of law.


5. (U) According to a white paper on legal education
reform drafted by National Taiwan University, the total
number of colleges offering law degrees increased from

TAIPEI 00003563 002 OF 004

eight to thirty-two between the early 1990s and 2004.
Since 2005, the total number of legal programs in Taiwan
has exceeded ninety; sixty-one of these have been
initiated within the past decade. The white paper also
indicated that while the number of law students has
increased significantly, the number of law professors has
simultaneously declined. As a result of this imbalance,
Taiwan?s educational authorities have decided to regulate
and limit the number of additional law degree programs
that universities can offer in school year 2006. In
response to this new stipulation, Professor Chi said that
the measure will not adversely impact universities
located in northern Taiwan, since most of them already
have a substantial number of pre-established legal
programs. However, Chi stated that the measure will
adversely affect the universities located in southern
Taiwan where legal education has yet to progress beyond
its initial stages.

6. (U) Chi stated that the Ministry of Education's
financial support for southern Taiwan's law schools is
not sufficient to maintain an adequate number of legal
professors. Since the northern region possesses the
majority of Taiwan's prestigious law programs, the area
naturally attracts law professors with its diverse
academic resources and business opportunities. This
causes the law programs in southern Taiwan to have an
insufficient supply of teachers, which hinders the
advancement of legal education in southern Taiwan. Chi
noted that many law professors, after teaching for a few
years at NUK, choose to return to northern Taiwan. Chi
admitted that the low retention rate of law professors in
southern Taiwan's universities is a major obstacle for
the advancement of the region?s legal education.

7. (U) In 2004, the National Taiwan University College
of Law held a seminar on how to reform Taiwan's
university law programs. Scholars from the U.S., Japan,
Korea, Germany, and Singapore attended the seminar and
participated in panel discussions. In November 2005, the
legal education reform committee passed a resolution to
adopt the U.S. legal education system, including its
teaching styles, lecture materials, case studies, and
internship training. The resolution requires the
elimination of existing classroom law curriculums by
2008. It also includes a sunset clause, which allows
undergraduates who enter law school before 2008 the
opportunity to take the bar examination under the rules
of Taiwan's traditional legal educational system.


8. (U) According to Chi, Taiwan's undergraduate law
degree programs are designed as four-year academic
courses. Law students in Taiwan are selected based on
their joint university entrance examination results and
are required to have only 20 credits before taking the
bar examination. Chi pointed out that with limited real-
world experience, Taiwanese law students will find it
challenging to begin their legal education at the age of
18. Chi said that this lack of experience puts them at a
disadvantage when studying complex issues such as
equality, justice, and societies' political/legal
perspectives, which are integral aspects of law. He
stated that young, inexperienced law students will have
difficulties in resolving complicated legal issues that
require high intellectual capability, insight, and
comprehension of complicated legal verbiage, concepts,
and technicalities.

9. (U) Chi went on to say that Taiwan's legal education
emphasizes academic lecturing on legal theory and
jurisprudence, rather than case studies and legal
precedents. Chi stated that most textbooks and classroom
curriculums do not reflect real world problems. Chi also

TAIPEI 00003563 003 OF 004

pointed out that classroom interaction is limited because
lecturing is the preferred teaching method, noting some
professors' dislike for interactive teaching. Their
preference for lecturing derives in part from Taiwan's
legal system being rooted in the European Continental
legal tradition. Chi noted that local universities'
legal graduate programs are similar to U.S. law schools
in that they recruit more mature students who possess
skills acquired through work experience that average
undergraduates lack. However, Taiwan's postgraduate
teaching styles are similar to the instruction methods
used in regular four-year academic law degree programs.

10. (U) According to Chi, many undergraduates choose to
pursue legal graduate school to better their chances of
passing the bar examination. Chi pointed out that since
legal textbooks have a long history of including bar exam
preparation materials, Taiwan's university law professors
primarily focus on teaching students how to take the
test. Nevertheless, law students spend most of their
time and money practicing for the highly-competitive
examination at private preparatory schools. Chi said
that over 7,000 applicants take the test each year, but
only 5 percent actually pass it.

11. (U) Professor Chi also noted that Vice President
Annette Lu ordered the replacement of Taiwan's current
legal educational structure with the U.S law school
system before her tenure expires in 2008. Chi is
optimistic that this reform timetable can be implemented
within two years. Aside from integrating the U.S. law
school system into local Taiwanese legal degree programs,
the educational committee proposed modifications to the
bar examination in order to harmonize its evaluation and
certification procedures with Taiwan's new legal
education reforms. The committee also recommended the
inclusion of international exchange programs within
professors' legal and English language teaching
curriculums. The suggestions made by the committee are
designed to facilitate and enhance the global
competitiveness of Taiwan's legal professionals. Chi
argued that Taiwan must reform its judicial system in
order to provide better legal services with well-trained
professionals who can help local entrepreneurs survive
and compete in a global business environment.

12. (U) Chi also told AIT/K that he hopes to invite U.S.
law professors to National Kaohsiung University to
participate in a one-year exchange program to lecture to
local law professors on international investment law.
Chi believes that as cross-Strait economic activities
continue to grow, international investment law will
dominate local legal practices in the future. Taiwan's
adoption of the U.S. law school system follows similar
reforms in Japan, South Korea, and the PRC. Chi
mentioned that during an exchange program with four PRC
universities, including Beijing University, he was
surprised to see the PRC taking measures to reform its
academic law programs in ways similar to Taiwan's
reforms. Chi optimistically said that the cross-Strait
tension may be improved after both sides adopt the same
legal academic system as the U.S. Local scholars in
southern Taiwan hope that the moratorium on new legal
programs in Taiwan will not diminish the region's ability
to attract more educational resources for law schools via
the educational exchange route.

13. (U) Comment: Southern Taiwan, which has long been a
stronghold of the DPP, traditionally has lagged behind
the north in educational resources and business
opportunities. The Ministry of Education has recently
bolstered funding for southern Taiwan's universities to
promote global competitiveness (see reftel), which is
helping regional universities to attract foreign
professors and students. Promoting the development of
the rule of law and anti-corruption efforts in East Asia
is high on the agenda for the U.S. State Department's
overseas posts as well as for the educational and

TAIPEI 00003563 004 OF 004

cultural exchange offices. Accordingly, the proposed
introduction of the U.S. style of legal education to
Taiwan by 2008 may offer a critical opportunity for the
addition of value-added programming in southern Taiwan's
universities. End Comment.



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