Law faculties in Japan are asking whether and how they should remake themselves to become law schools. One basic issue has been framed in terms of whether such programs should be professional or general. One Japanese scholar put it pointedly: "[a] major issue of the proposed reform is whether Japan should adopt an American model law school, i.e., professional education at the graduate level, while essentially doing away with the traditional Japanese method of teaching law at university." American law schools are seen as having as their fundamental goal "to provide the training and education required for becoming an effective legal practitioner, i.e., the institutions provide a 'professional legal education.'"
This article addresses the professional character of American law schools in the context of a comparison with German legal instruction. Its focus is on differences in the hope that these comparisons will help clarify thinking about the choices available to Japan. That comparative perspective leads the author to suggest that before one considers using the American legal education system as model of professional education, one should ask the preliminary question: What should the legal system itself look like?