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34 Law & Pol'y Int'l Bus. 451 (2002-2003)
Law's Dominion and the Market for Legal Elites in Japan

handle is hein.journals/geojintl34 and id is 461 raw text is: LAW'S DOMINION AND THE MARKET FOR LEGAL
ELITES IN JAPAN
CURTISJ. MILHAUPT* & MARK D. WEST**
ABSTRACT
In this Article, we present data on legal elites in Japan-legally
trained university graduates poised to pursue successful careers either as
fast-track bureaucrats or lawyers handling sophisticated business trans-
actions. The data show a marked shift in employment patterns over the
past decade: increasingly, Japan's most elite university graduates are
forsaking the bureaucracy for law.
We find that changes inJapan's underlying economic, political, and
legal institutions are a primary cause of this shift. We argue that this
trend is not a temporary phenomenon, but reflects a more fundamental
transfer of authority in Japan from the bureaucracy to the legal system.
The evidence sheds new light on two longstanding debates: the impact of
law and lawyers on economic success, and the bureaucracy's role in the
governance of the Japanese economy.
The data we examine are hard to square with the widespread view of
Japan as Exhibit A for the proposition that societies encourage
economic growth by steering their most talented youth away from
redistributive legal careers.  Rather, the data indicate that in Japan
(as elsewhere), talented college graduates pursue positions of power,
prestige, and profit. While those positions were once located in the elite
economic bureaucracy, they are now migrating to the legal system.
Contrary to the evidence of stagnation in the economic and policy
* Fuyo Professor of Law and Director, Center for Japanese Legal Studies, Columbia Law
School.
** Nippon Life Professor of Law and Directr,Japanese Legal Studies Program, University of
Michigan Law School.
Milhaupt's research was supported in part by a grant from the Abe Fellowship Program of the
Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies, with funds
provided by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. West thanks the Nippon Life
Insurance Company's endowment at the University of Michigan Law School. John Campbell,
Masakazu Doi, John Haley, Atsushi Kinami, Shozo Ota, Mark Ramseyer, and workshop partici-
pants at Columbia Law School, the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law, and the Research Institute
of Economy, Trade & Industry provided comments and stimulating questions on earlier drafts.
Thanks also to Noboru Kashiwagi, Hideaki Kubori, Setsuo Miyazawa, Michio Muramatsu, andJeff
Wexler for helpful conversations and aid in gathering data. We are especially grateful to those
persons who shared information with us on the condition of anonymity.

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