How to Become a Lawyer in Japan?


Becoming a lawyer is a dream for many individuals, and in Japan, it requires dedication, perseverance, and a thorough understanding of the legal profession. This guide aims to provide a step-by-step overview of the process, including the educational requirements, examinations, and career paths available to aspiring lawyers in Japan.

Section 1: Enrolling in Law School

To embark on the journey of becoming a lawyer in Japan, the first step is to gain admission to a law school. Law school in Japan, known as “Houkagakuin,” offers a comprehensive education in legal theory and practice. As of 2023, it is possible to take the bar exam during the final year of law school.

If attending law school is not feasible due to financial constraints or other circumstances, there is an alternative route. By passing the preliminary examination, individuals can still be eligible to take the bar exam, even without attending law school.

Section 2: Passing the Bar Exam

The bar exam in Japan consists of both a written and an essay section. Successfully passing the bar exam grants individuals the opportunity to proceed to the next stage of their legal education, known as “Shihoushū.” It is important to note that even if someone passes the bar exam during their time in law school, they must still complete their studies before entering Shihoushū.

Section 3: Completing Judicial Training

After passing the bar exam, individuals are required to undergo a year-long judicial training program. This program is designed to provide the necessary practical training in law firms, courts, prosecutor’s offices, or the Judicial Research and Training Institute. Upon successfully completing the training program and passing the examination, individuals are granted the qualifications to become legal professionals, including lawyers, judges, or prosecutors.

Section 4: The Path to Becoming a Lawyer

The path to becoming a lawyer in Japan consists of several key milestones. Here is an overview of the necessary steps:

  1. Enroll in law school and complete the required coursework for either three or two years.
  2. Pass the bar exam, which includes written and essay sections.
  3. Complete the judicial training program, gaining practical experience in legal settings.
  4. Successfully pass the examination administered at the end of the training program.
  5. Receive the qualifications to become a legal professional, such as a lawyer, judge, or prosecutor.

Section 5: The Challenges of Becoming a Lawyer

Becoming a lawyer is not an easy feat. The bar exam in Japan is known for its difficulty, and the pass rate is relatively low. However, with dedication and thorough preparation, it is possible to overcome these challenges and achieve success in the legal profession.

Section 6: Pursuing a Legal Career as a Working Professional

Many individuals consider a career in law later in life, even after entering the workforce. It is indeed possible to become a lawyer as a working professional. Here are the options available:

  1. Working professionals can enroll in law school while maintaining their job and attend evening or part-time classes.
  2. Another option is to study independently and prepare for the bar exam through self-study or specialized preparatory courses.

Section 7: The Role of a Lawyer

Lawyers play a vital role in society by providing legal advice, representing clients in court proceedings, and ensuring justice is served. They handle various legal matters, including civil disputes, criminal cases, and corporate or intellectual property issues. Lawyers are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting their clients’ rights and interests.

Section 8: Job Opportunities for Lawyers

Upon becoming a lawyer in Japan, numerous career opportunities become available. Lawyers can choose to work in law firms, government agencies, corporations, or even establish their own private practice. They can specialize in specific areas of law, such as family law, corporate law, or criminal law.

Section 9: Salary and Compensation

Lawyers in Japan have the potential to earn a substantial income. According to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, the average annual income for lawyers is approximately 25 million yen, with some earning even higher salaries. However, it is important to note that income can vary depending on factors such as experience, specialization, and the size of the law firm.

Section 10: The Benefits of Becoming a Lawyer

Becoming a lawyer offers numerous benefits, including:

  1. The opportunity to make a meaningful impact on society and contribute to justice.
  2. The absence of a mandatory retirement age, allowing lawyers to practice for the duration of their careers.
  3. The potential for high earning potential and financial stability.

Section 11: Frequently Asked Questions

11.1 Is it possible to become a lawyer through self-study?

Yes, it is possible to become a lawyer through self-study. While attending law school provides a structured education, individuals can still prepare for the bar exam independently. Dedication, discipline, and access to quality study materials are key to success.

11.2 What are the average study costs to become a lawyer in Japan?

The costs associated with becoming a lawyer in Japan can vary. Law school tuition fees, bar exam preparation materials, and potential preparatory courses are factors to consider. It is advisable to research and budget accordingly.

Becoming a lawyer in Japan is a rigorous process that requires commitment and dedication. By following the necessary steps, individuals can embark on a rewarding legal career. Whether through traditional law school education or self-study, the path to becoming a lawyer offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth.



Remember, this guide provides an overview of the process and steps involved in becoming a lawyer in Japan. It is always advisable to consult official sources and obtain up-to-date information from relevant legal authorities to ensure accuracy and compliance with the current regulations and requirements.




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