What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Lawyer in Japan
Section 2: Before your first legal consultation
These are common questions that non-Japanese people have asked me regarding legal consultations:
Q: I don’t speak Japanese very well. Should I send a family member or a friend with better Japanese skills in my place?
A: In order to give you the most salient advice, the attorney will need to ask a lot of detailed questions about the case in point. So that means that the person directly involved in the matter is best placed to deliver those details and thus receive the most pertinent advice.
Also it is worth pointing out that during these consultations we may cover a lot of intensely private details so you may want to consider who you feel comfortable being in that room with you as those matters are discussed.
Hence it is important to find an attorney that speaks (or at least understands) the language you feel most comfortable in.
At the Yamamura Law Office we have attorneys that speak fluent English, so feel free to make an appointment for a consultation. Please note that we do not offer legal consultations over the phone.
Q: How do I find the right attorney for my specific dispute?
A: In many countries, some legal professionals specialize in quite narrowly-defined fields and it is common practice to find a particular lawyer for a specific situation. However, in Japan the number of attorneys is quite low, so it is rare to find an attorney that limits their area of interest to one field. For example, when it comes to overseas trade or intellectual property, someone who specializes in those fields would perhaps be best placed to help, but for a conventional civil dispute pretty much any qualified attorney could offer their assistance.
So if you need to consult with an attorney regarding personal injury, real estate, divorce or other civil dispute, we would recommend an experienced English-speaking attorney who is aware of how those disputes can impact non-Japanese people, rather than trying to find a specialist attorney in those specific fields, who do not speak your language.
Q: How should I prepare for my first legal consultation?
A: These meetings typically last one hour. With the right preparation, this can be a very productive hour. So prior to that first meeting, here is what you need to prepare:
– Bring any and all relevant documentation (contracts, etc.)
– If you are engaged in complex disputes, prepare a timeline of events and a list of all the people involved
For disputes in Japan, there will doubtless be a lot of documentation in Japanese. An attorney needs to read those documents to figure out where the problems are and to also suggest ways to resolve the matter at hand. So even if you do not understand what those documents say or even if you are not sure of their relevance to the dispute, please bring them along and have the attorney take a look.