On this page, we will look at the types of various legal and non-legal professionals in Japan.
Western Countries vs. Japan
In the United States and other western countries, usually, legal matters are handled by attorneys-at-law and solicitors, and accounting matters are handled by certified public accountants.
In contrast to western countries, in Japan, there are various legal and non-legal professionals.
For a foreign company unaccustomed to the Japanese system, it is confusing to learn that a certain task is not normally handled by an attorney, and trying to sort through the various professions to know who to hire for a specific legal or non-legal task wastes valuable time and resources.
An example of this is how judicial scriveners usually handle incorporations of new entities and registrations of branch offices in Japan.
Below, we look at the various legal and non-legal professionals in Japan, and provide a brief explanation of what tasks those professionals usually perform.
Bengoshi (弁護士 or "bengoshi")
Bengoshi (弁護士 or "bengoshi" in Japanese) are attorneys-at-law that are qualified to practice law in Japan.
When you refer to a lawyer or an attorney in Japan, you are referring to a bengoshi.
Bengoshi are allowed to handle all legal matters, including the legal matters performed by Foreign Registered Lawyers (foreign law), Judicial Scriveners (registering companies, registering land), and Certified Administrative Procedures Legal Specialists (visa matters), but in practice, most bengoshi do not handle such matters.
Bengoshi most often handle litigation for clients, and provide legal advice concerning corporate law.
Foreign Registered Lawyers (外国法事務弁護士 or "gaikokuhou-jimu-bengoshi")
Foreign Registered Lawyers (外国法事務弁護士 or "gaikokuhou-jimu-bengoshi" in Japanese) are foreign attorneys, who are qualified in a non-Japanese jurisdiction to practice law, and who are registered in Japan to practice the law of the foreign country/state that they are qualified to practice law in.
Foreign Registered Lawyers are not allowed to practice the laws of Japan, or laws of countries/states that they are not qualified and registered in.
They are also not allowed to make appearances on behalf of their clients before Japanese public bodies (such as the courts and government agencies).
For example, if a foreign lawyer is licensed to practice law in the State of California of the United States of America, that foreign lawyer can register as a Foreign Registered Lawyer to practice California law and U.S. federal law in Japan.
However, even after registering as a Foreign Registered Lawyer to practice the laws of California, that Foreign Registered Lawyer would not be qualified to provide advice on any matters concerning the laws of New York of the United States of America.
Judicial Scriveners (司法書士 or "shiho-shoshi")
Judicial Scriveners (司法書士 or "shiho-shoshi" in Japanese) usually handle the registration of corporate transactions (incorporations, registrations of branch offices, subsequent changes), registration of real estate transactions, and representing clients in small claims court.
Judicial Scriveners are only allowed to represent clients in the small claims court, and are not allowed to represent clients in other courts (such as the district court).
Judicial Scriveners usually handle the incorporation of a legal entity and register real property.
Certified Administrative Procedures Legal Specialists (行政書士 or "gyoseishoshi”)
Certified Administrative Procedures Legal Specialists (行政書士 or "gyoseishoshi" in Japanese) usually handle work related to obtaining licenses or permits from the local or national government.
Certified Administrative Procedures Legal Specialists are also the primary legal professionals that handle visa matters, and as such, when a foreign national is seeking assistance in regard to visa matters, they ordinarily consult these professionals.
Patent Attorneys (弁理士 or "benrishi")
Patent Attorneys (弁理士 or "benrishi" in Japanese), contrary to being called "patent" attorneys, handle the registration of all intellectual property, including trademarks and copyrights, and are thus not limited to registering only patents.
Many Patent Attorneys also coordinate with foreign professionals to assist clients in registering their intellectual property rights in foreign countries, and pursuant to international treaties.
Labor and Social Security Attorneys (社会保険労務士 or "shakai-hoken-romushi")
Labor and Social Security Attorneys (社会保険労務士 or "shakai-hoken-romushi" in Japanese, which is often abbreviated as 社労士 or "sharoshi") are labor and social security specialists, that handle the preparation and filing of labor and social security related filings, and advise clients on these matters.
Certified Public Tax Accountants (税理士 or "zeirishi")
Certified Public Tax Accountants (税理士 or "zeirishi" in Japanese) primarily provide clients with advice on taxes and prepare tax returns for clients.
Certified Public Accountants (公認会計士 or "konin-kaikeishi")
Certified Public Accountants (公認会計士 or "konin-kaikeishi") primarily provide auditing services and tax services to clients.
The Verybest Advantage
While ordinarily a client would need to find a separate specialist for each of the foregoing tasks, at Verybest, we have assembled all of these professionals to provide a true "one-stop" experience to clients.
Once clients hire Verybest for their legal and non-legal needs, they can usually communicate with the professional assigned to them, instead of trying to coordinate tasks between different firms, or trying to find a new firm for a task that is not handled by a specific professional.
At Verybest, our legal and non-legal professionals work closely to provide clients with a comprehensive solution to their particular issue.
We believe this is a significant advantage to our clients from a cost perspective as well as a logistical perspective, allowing our clients to save money and time, so that they can focus their efforts on their business activities.
Additionally, at Verybest, we are able to provide all of our services in English, either by a professional that is proficient in English, or by an in-house translator or a foreign professional assisting in communications.
(Japan Standard Time) *English, Chinese language support available