Tsukuba Wiki

Legal Consultations Services (Houritsu Soudan)

Sponsored by the Ibaraki Bar(Lawyers`) Association-Tsuchiura Branch. Tsukuba is a part of the Tsuchiura Judicial District.

The Ibaraki Bar-Tsuchiura Branch provides paid face-to-face legal consultations with an attorney every Thursday, 10am-12pm,and 1-4pm. Appointments are required and are accepted only on Mondays from 9am-4pm by calling the Houritsu Soudan Senta phone number 0298-21-0122.

When making an appointment, you'll be asked to give a brief summary of your consult. Fees are 5250 yen per 30 minutes. Come early and be prepared! Check in with reception and fill out form. Depending on scheduling, you might be allowed to go over your time limit with the attorney, provided they're willing to do it. If not, make the most of the 30 minutes you've paid for. When your time is up, that'll be it for the consult. Some Bar Association 's allow for paid time extensions. All fees are up front and in cash. Check with the reception counter or call the main phone number, your lawyer, and the internet for your legal consultation options.

The Houritsu Soudan Senta is located across from Kijo Park, where the ruins of Tsuchiura Castle are. It's about a 15 minute walk from Urara and Tsuchiura Station(West side). Walk towards the UFJ Bank, Central Cinema, Family Mart, Kanto Bank, and the old 505 shopping arcade. Keep going and you'll eventually see the castle grounds-famous these days for being a prime cherry blossom festival site. The area surrounding the Tsuchiura Castle is sort of a government district, which includes the Bar Association, the Tsuchiura District & Family Court, and at the end, where the street intersects with Route 125, the fire department and police station. Near the castle's main gate is a red brick and glass 4-story building called Kijo Plaza. The Ibaraki Bar-Tsuchiura Branch rents out 2 rooms on the 3rd floor. Don't go there expecting Hollywood movie-type offices. Basement parking is available but very cramped. I recommend using the parking at Ito Yokado.


A few pointers...Write an outline/description with dates of your problem and any documents/receipts/pay stubs/contracts/etc which will help the attorney establish facts. Remember it's basically a 30-minute consult so unless it's something clear cut like a traffic accident or divorce, you'll probably only have time to give the attorney a basic overview of your problem, do some Q&A, and receive a few points of advice. No time to take apart and analyze a John Grisham plot so keep an eye on the clock and make a nice presentation. Consults are expected to be done in Japanese. The same goes for documents, so bring a Japanese-speaking friend who can explain what's written. There is COMPLETE confidentiality. Therefore clients are expected to be completely honest. What you say and admit to your attorney in the consultation room will NOT leave the room.

Here are your options after the first consult. Schedule another appointment with the the Bar Association again; privately arrange a follow-up meeting with the lawyer at his/her law office; or look up a lawyer in the NTT phone book and schedule an appointment privately. Don't forget to ask for the lawyers's business card. Lawyers are probably rotated every week so if you want to see the same lawyer again, you'll have to check with the reception desk. If you weren't satisfied with the lawyer you saw for some reason, try again with another lawyer, or check out another Bar Association, such as in Mito, Tokyo, etc. Just like with anything else, it's always a good idea to get a second or third opinion. Your circumstances, the questions you ask, the answers you seek, and the legal remedies/services you asking for are all likely to change as time passes.

For practical reasons, you should use these legal consults for specific advice and Q&A. If you want to petition a court, litigate, or have a legal document written up, then for all practical purposes you'll need to schedule a private meeting with a lawyer at their office. The lawyer may agree to meet you at the Bar Assoc. office if it's more convenient for the both of you.

There's lots of info on the web and at the large bookstores, in Japanese mostly. The Tokyo municipal district has the largest and most comprehensive legal consultation service in Japan and they have many centers located around the JR Yamanote line. While the Tsuchiura Bar Association Legal Consultation Service provides advice on all topics, the Tokyo Bar divides their Legal Consultation Services according to topics such as: labor, company-related, foreigners, realtor-related, family, traffic, creditor-debitor, bankruptcy, compensation, government, criminal, credit fraud,etc. Tokyo offers more times, days, and hours so although you'll be paying for the trip, it might more convenient.

A check of the NTT TownPages will give you an idea of what's available in your town. Lawyers here seem to offer their services for a broad array of topics. Unlike in the US, I get the feeling that lawyers here, especially outside of metropolitan areas, don't specialize and market to a specific area of law. This should give you an idea of what you can expect from the lawyer you see. Don't go into a consult expecting your lawyer be all-knowing and have all the answers. Work your problem from several angles, utilizing government/municipal offices, consultation services, third-party mediation, etc.


As explained above, a consult will cost about 5000 yen. If your thinking of hiring a lawer for litigation, as legal representative negotiating on your behalf, or getting a document written, it'll cost anything from an IPOD, to an arm, 2 legs, and then maybe an eyeball.

There's a system called the Legal Aid Service (houritsu fujo kyoukai) and it waives the consultation fee, if you qualify depending on your income level. The fujo kyoukai system has the power to waive fees, reschedule payments, and so on based on several conditions. These include your whether or not your case is actually going to court, winnable, in the right jurisdiction since every bar has this system, and a favorable review of your case is made upon application for consideration under this system. Check the websites. From what I've seen on the sites, you can get an waiver if your monthly income drops below 180,000 yen(figure varies). You'll have to provide thorough documentation of your net income level through tax reports, pay stubs, loan paperwork, bank books,....When applicable, documentation of loss of income will also need to be provided.

For Tsuchiura, what would usually happen is that you would call up, ask for an attorney referral under this system, as well as free legal consult, specifically "fujo kyoukai muryou soudan." The number is 029-221-3501. If you live within the Tsuchiura Bar Assoc. jurisdiction, then you'll be given the number of a nearby law office. The Bar will contact the law office first and direct you to then call the lawyer directly to arrange an appointment. In Tokyo and other areas, the Legal Aid consults are done at the Bar Association offices.

Things to consider[]

Someone once compared court cases in Japan to dental checkups. Proceedings are spread out over an extended period time in order to encourage compromise and "discourage" litigation. By extended, this means anything from a year or two or more. Those of us who watch the news are familiar with the Aum Shinri Kyou Subway Sarin Terror case and how it's still going on. A typical court case will proceed at a hypersonic speed of a meeting or two per month. Because of this, most litigation in Japan ends in a settlement, rather than in a judgement.

Most foreigners in Japan are here on a 1-year visa (Status of Residence). The fact that you're in litigation or in some legal proceeding is not, by itself a type of visa. If you're at the end of your visa period and are in the middle of a court case or litigation, you'll have to petition immigration in order to receive a Tourist-type Status of Residence. If you have a Status of Residence which is valid and your litigation has no impact or relation to it, then you shouldn't have to worry about your "visa" status.

Finally, I can't emphasize this enough. Everything is done in Japanese.


      Tokyo has several bar associations.  
      Many of the consuling centers are shared by the seperate groups.

Also, do a search on the internet.

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