Want to expand your practice into Japan? We are seeking UK law firms to join our business development mission to Japan from 17 - 18 February 2020. 

The president of the Law Society of England and Wales, together with the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association, will lead a business development mission for members to Japan on 17 and 18 February 2020. 

We are looking for UK law firms from a range of sectors that wish to be introduced to firms in Japan to join this mission.

Business culture in Japan attaches a high degree of importance to personal relationships and a strong network of personal contacts is vital in the Japanese market. Joining the mission will be an opportunity for UK law firms to gain a better understanding of the Japanese legal services market, provide an insight into the opportunities available, and facilitate connections with firms in Japan.

The two day programme will feature activities such as:

  • A joint seminar with the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association
  • Briefing by the British Embassy in Japan
  • Networking events
  • Meetings with local firms

A Draft Programme is now avaliable to download.

Applications are now closed. If you are interested in joining the mission, please email asia@lawsociety.org.uk.

Why Japan?

Japan is the high-tech powerhouse economy of Asia and the third largest economy in the world. It is considered a competitive and stable business market with an increasingly globalised outlook.

Home to a colossal accumulation of personal wealth (over £6tn and the largest in the Asia-Pacific region), Japan is the second largest computer and telecommunications market in the world. Japan is ranked among the world’s most innovative countries.

Japan is one of the largest financial services markets in the world - with half of all UK exports to Japan being services. There has been an expansion of outbound M&A activities by Japanese businesses in recent years and a growing appetite in investing in overseas energy projects, creating strong demand for international legal services. At the same time, Japan’s fintech market is growing, with both domestic and international fintech firms establishing themselves in key sectors as the market expands.

In addition to the growing financial and businesses sectors, key industries in Japan include defence, security, manufacturing, industrial and high-technology. Japanese organisations dominate the IT & Communications sector globally, and are demanding more innovative technologies and services, particularly in sectors such as cyber security, space, and emerging technologies.

The legal system

Japan follows a civil law legal system, influenced by the German and French systems and partially that of the US.

Japan’s legal market is centred in Tokyo. The ‘big four’ Japanese firms - roughly considered the equivalent of the UK’s magic circle firms - are Nishimura & Asahi, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu, and Anderson Mori & Tomotsune. Sometimes, TMI Associates is added and the group is referred to as the ‘big five’ law firms.

As of March 2018, there were over 40,000 lawyers in Japan and over 400 registered foreign lawyers. A growing numbers of lawyers in Japan play an active role within companies, central ministries and agencies, local public entities, and other organisations as “in-house lawyers.” The number of corporate in-house lawyers exceeded 2,100 and there were around 200 in the civil service (as of January 2018).