Washington International Law Journal


Kyoko Ishida


Today, Japanese attorneys and so-called "quasi-lawyers" (jun hōritsuka) face significant regulatory reforms to the legal services they provide. The justice system reform (shihō seido kaikaku) significantly expanded the scope of practice for quasi-lawyers in order to meet the country's growing need for legal assistance. Also, in November 2004 attorneys established new ethical standards which also apply to registered foreign business attorneys for the preparation of upcoming increase of population of attorneys. In contrast to the United States, where attorneys provide legal services almost exclusively, there are several licensed legal service providers other than attorneys (bengoshi) in Japan. The paper addresses the following six categories: attorneys, judicial scriveners, administrative scriveners, patent attorneys, tax attorneys, and social insurance and labor consultants. First, judicial scriveners (shihō shoshi) register real property for clients, draft documents that are filed in court or legal proceedings, and assist clients in preparing documents that are necessary to complete various routine legal transactions. Administrative scriveners (gyōsei shoshi) can also submit documents to government agencies for clients. Patent attorneys handle the legal work related to registering various forms of intellectual property. Tax attorneys (zeirishi) can advise, draft, and file documents, as well as represent clients throughout the complaint proceedings within the Tax Office. Social insurance and labor consultants (shakai hoken rōmushi) deal with specific laws concerning employment and insurance. Although the Japanese government plans to increase the number of attorneys to 50,000 by 2018, currently legal service providers must provide a significant amount of services to individuals and corporations because there are only about 20,000 attorneys in Japan—one attorney per 6,000 people—compared to about 941,000 attorneys in the United States—one attorney per 290 people.

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