Find a Lawyer in Hokkaido
For business and other needs, foreigners and expats commonly need the services of a lawyer in Hokkaido. In fact, for foreigners trying to buy property or to extend their stay in Japan, a local Hokkaido attorney often provide services that are an essential part of a successful plan.
In this post, we’ll describe some of the various types of lawyers in Hokkaido, and in particular, the role attorneys play in helping foreigners with real estate and related needs.
Kinds of Lawyers in Japan
To begin with, there are two basic categories of legal help in Japan:
- “Non-Attorney” Legal Professionals
At Find Hokkaido Agents we provide personalized introductions to legal professionals, attorneys/lawyers in Sapporo and other cities in Hokkaido. We have personally done business with lawyers on several occasions and have helped clients from all over the world. When you’re ready to find a find a lawyer in Hokkaido contact us, we are happy to help.
The main distinctions in legal matters in Hokkaido is between proper “lawyers” and non-lawyer professionals (the equivalent of “paralegals” in Hokkaido).
Lawyers in Hokkaido
We use the word “lawyer” here, but in Japanese that can mean many things so we’ll use the more specific term “bengoshi” (弁護士).
A general purpose Hokkaido lawyer has the legal status to conduct most legal transactions, but many legal services can be performed by individuals with legal certification that are not technically called “lawyers.” Below we’ll distinguish a “bengoshi” lawyer from other common legal professionals.
Proper lawyers in Hokkaido are licensed to conduct most legal transactions, but commonly focus on lawsuits, disputes, and court cases. They can help with some regulatory tasks like immigration, or company formation, but are more likely to specialize in trial work, criminal matters, civil cases, family law and divorce work, more complex negotiations.
Fees for Hokkaido lawyers are typically paid on an hourly structure. The rate for a Hokkaido attorney will vary by their individual level of experience and education. Lawyers in Hokkaido that speak English are less common and may charge higher rates.
Law firms in Hokkaido might employ several lawyers in various capacities, and can also assign work to non-attorney specialists to handle various disciplines, routine work, or bureaucratic processes. Many times these non-attorneys have deeper, specialized expertise in the subjects they represent and are more qualified (based on client experience) than many lawyers would be on those matters.
At Find Hokkaido Agents we have an extensive database of contacts in law, particularly for immigration, taxes, and real estate law. We can introduce you to lawyers in Hokkaido that speak English and other languages. Contact us to get started.
In addition to these “bengoshi” lawyers, there are several classes of non-lawyer professions and specialists that help clients manage legal processes and court papers.
An important category of non-attorney in Hokkaido is the judicial scrivener or “shiho shoshi” lawyer (司法書士). Many common legal procedures are handled by this class of lawyer in Hokkaido, including most legal needs that require preparation of legal documents to be submitted to government offices.
Judicial scriveners are very common in the final stages of selling or buying real estate in Hokkaido (they perform many of the duties that a title company would execute in the United States). You might also work with a judicial scrivener to establish or register a company in Japan – a stock company or “kabushiki gaisha” (株式会社) or a limited liability company “godo gaisha” (合同会社). Routine and “small claims” court matters, arbitration, mediation, some applications for Japanese citizenship, and other services can be performed by Hokkaido judicial scriveners.
Unlike more general purpose lawyers, judicial scriveners in Hokkaido are not always paid hourly, and often work for a set fee for a given project or procedure. Each judicial scrivener sets his own rates, and exact fees depend on the complexity of the procedure. Judicial scriveners can often provide these routine legal services for a lower fee than a lawyer, and commonly have more practical experience as they have repeated preformed these duties for clients.
Every sale or purchase of real estate in Hokkaido requires a lawyer or judicial scrivener to complete the process. At Find Hokkaido Agents we have many relationships in the real estate community. If you’d like an introduction, please contact us any time.
Another class of lawyer that is common needed is a Hokkaido immigration specialist called an administrative scrivener or a “gyosei shoshi” (行政書士). These lawyers specialize in helping foreigners apply for a visa in Hokkaido or solve immigration issues. Administrative scriveners are another example of a kind of lawyer that is focused on helping clients prepare legal documents to submit to the national and local government.
To be introduced to some pre-screened Hokkaido administrative scriveners, please contact us.
Certified Public Accountants and Tax Attorneys
Law professionals that focus on real estate tax in Hokkaido are called “zeirishi” (税理士) and also have a special legal distinction in Japanese law. Certified public tax accountants in Hokkaido are included in this category.
Many foreigners trying to live and work with real estate in Hokkaido will need help preparing tax documents for the Japanese government and to coordinate tax return requirements with your country of origin. Hokkaido tax attorneys can provide consulting on those matters, as well as real estate and business tax expertise.
Tax preparation experts in Hokkaido might work on an hourly basis. They also work on an annual contract, particularly if a Japanese company is involved, to handle various tax filings and payments that are due throughout the year.
For introductions to CPAs in Hokkaido, contact us anytime.
Lawyers That Speak English in Hokkaido
Communicating in Japanese is a challenge for many foreigners and expats in Hokkaido. Bigger firms are more likely to have legal services in English and other languages, but will often require higher fees as well. In some cases you would have the legal work done in Japanese, and then pay a separate fee (as needed) to have documents translated into your language.
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