Komuro on the happiest day of his life (his wedding day, not his first day as a law clerk)

The law clerk who married a Japanese princess and then failed the New York bar exam, has been defended by an academic director who said the exam is difficult for "non-native speakers". 

Kei Komuro and Japanese princess Mako started their relationship in college, and wed at the end of last month. Under Japanese law, the princess had to forfeit her royal status, once she married a 'commoner'.

Although the premise sounds like a Richard Curtis movie, it hasn't always been light comedic moments for Komuro, who has come under intense scrutiny. Some conservative Japanese people believe that Komuro is not a worthy partner for Mako, and have protested against the marriage.

Opponents to the marriage dug up details about Komuro's family, and made allegations about his mother having financial problems. Even Komuro's choice of haircut was slammed by some sections of the media, when he opted to sport a ponytail. 

Komuro, a law clerk at US firm Lowenstein Sandler, took the New York bar exam in July. But when the results came out two days after his wedding, he wasn't on the pass list, and came under fire once again from his critics. 

However, the New York bar exam is tough, and being under the glare of the worldwide media was probably not the most stress-free way to prepare for the tests. A fair proportion of aspiring lawyers didn't make the grade in July, as the overall pass rate was 63%. And foreign-trained lawyers had a pass rate of just 31%.   

While Komuro isn't considered a 'foreign-trained lawyer', as he studied at Fordham University in New York, he would still have faced some challenges as English isn't his first language, said Lisa Young, an academic director at the Kaplan Bar Review. 

"The test includes complex, timed writing and reading comprehension questions, which can be difficult for people whose first language is not English," Young said, in an article by Reuters. "It's an extremely challenging test for anyone taking it, but even harder for non-native speakers," she added. 

Komuro will have an opportunity to resit the exam in February, should he wish to do so. 

Is working at your firm like a fairytale romance? Take the survey below and open your heart.


Status message

Sorry, the survey is now closed. Thanks for trying! But you are too late. Why, why so late?

Tip Off ROF


Nottelling 19 November 21 10:14

This is a non-story.  Man fails exam.  Happens every day. Stop heaping misery on the poor chap and move on.

Hirohito 19 November 21 10:17

You must have read a different story to me, this reads like a corrective to the narratives heaping misery on him. It's very sympathetic rather than mocking!

Lydia 19 November 21 17:20

Whereas here in England with our prizes for all culture we have dumbed down SQE1 so much it is 100% multiple choice specifically because so many foreigners were failing the trials for it because there were questions where you had to write English!  (The first SQE1 exams were this week or last week).

Lora M 20 November 21 05:35

While Komuro's first language may be Japanese, he certainly has no problem with English either. He attended Canadian International School Tokyo, an international school in Tokyo which classes are taught in English, through 13 to 18 years old. Then he  attended International Christian University in Tokyo which most of the courses are taught in English as well. (On a side note, Komuro does not have a law degree in Japan.) So the language barrier can't definitely be used as an excuse of his failure. After all, he managed to get a full scholarship from Fordham University, right? Where's the language barrier at that time then? (So it comes to a conclusion that his qualification for that scholarship has a big question mark.)

Also everyone should know that most of the Japanese exam takers who didn't attend any international school when they were young do pass the NY bar exam at their first try. 

Anonymous 21 November 21 19:01

Also really unfair to call him a paralegal in the title and then a law clerk in the text. Law clerk is indeed what JDs who have not yet passed the bar exam are called in NY, and it is very different from being a paralegal. 

Also Anonymous 22 November 21 12:04

I am also unconvinced that Mr Komuro's failure to pass is mainly caused by language difficulties.  As a fellow non-native speaker of English, I did find the MBE multiple choice part of the exam most challenging, but this had nothing to do with reading comprehension or the many subtleties of the English language.  Rather, it was the very well crafted questions and alternative answers that were tricky.

Like Mr Komuro, I did have a JD before attempting the Bar Exam, and was therefore well aware of the difficulties of this exam before attempting it.  I did take the Cal Bar and passed on the first attempt, however this exam is by some viewed as more difficult (especially by CA lawyers) since it was a 3 day affair then and you had to pass each section with a comparatively high passing score.


Rollinwednesday 22 November 21 12:11

Mr Komuro's problems were more likely connected to not knowing the answers, rather than not knowing the language. 

The New York bar is a challenging exam and I am tempted to say much more difficult than the old Law Society Finals (or the old Law Society Part 2 examinations for those of a particular generation), but the sole reason for saying this would be to wind people up.

Andreas 24 November 21 20:07

I know so many German lawyers who passed the NY bar exam after 9 months of LLM courses.

Can‘t be that difficult….

Anonymous 24 November 21 21:41

Here's a fun story for you. 

The reason DWF didn't open a New York office us because a very senior person refused to sit the NY Bar exam in case he failed and was humiliated.

Amusingly someone junior in the Manchester office than sat and passed it for a laugh with no intention of practicing there.

Related News