International Spotlight On: Japan

Are you considering law jobs in Asia? In the past few years firms based in the UK, US and internationally have experienced a growth in hiring activity across countries in Asia, including law firms in Japan.

If you are considering moving your career internationally, then follow our International “Spotlight On” series to keep up to date with the legal sector internationally.  

Spotlight On: International Law Firms in Japan

Is there a demand for legal professionals?

Japan is faced with a shortage of qualified candidates with strong English language and communication skills. In particular, there is a high demand for lawyers who have a strong understanding of the sensitivity of commercial demands within the country.

Where are the areas of demand?

Looking to the year ahead, there are a number of areas of high demand within legal recruitment in Japan, these areas include:

  • M&A
  • TMT (technology, media and telecommunications)
  • Project finance experience
  • Real estate experience
  • Infrastructure experience

Additionally, with an increased number of Japanese firms merging or partnering with overseas business, there is a high level of demand for lawyers with a knowledge of marrying different corporate structures, governance procedures and dispute resolution procedures.

As excitement builds for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the Japanese government have plans to increase foreign tourism which has resulted in increased foreign investment in the hospitality and construction sectors. This is expected to continue to the launch of the Olympics and beyond.

Whilst investment in fossil fuels projects is facing a decline in global commodity prices, there continues to be interested in renewable energy projects. The Feed in Tariff (FIT) for solar energy was cut in 2016 but there has been investment in other renewable energy projects, including wind and biomass, which have seen a significant increase. However, this market is very domestic with a strong preference towards Japanese attorneys (Bengoshi).

Private Practice Recruitment in Japan

Within the private practice sector, there has been a recent emergence of legal practices established by the Big Four Accountancy firms including: Deloitte, EY and PwC. These firms are actively recruiting partners and associates from established international firms. This follows their introduction in other markets including UK and US.

In-House Recruitment

In-House, the strong, traditional industries including healthcare and manufacturing continue to prove solid, with consistent demand for talented lawyers in these areas. In particular, healthcare continues to offer great opportunities for in-house counsel, the market, in this case, is aided by the ageing Japanese population. Many major global players have turned their focus towards Japan as their second strongest revenue base.

Hiring tends to be very active within medical devices and pharmaceutical fields offering salaries which tend to be at the upper end of the scale.

In-House Salary Range

income figures for lawyers in law firms in Japan

Information on the Japanese market has been provided by our Partners at JLegal, Japan.

Law Firm Recruitment Japan

Please continue to follow our Spotlight On series to find out more about other international law markets and your opportunities for making a move Overseas.

Our current International Guide can also be downloaded here:

Whether you are looking to apply for a position abroad or you are planning on finding a role closer to home, Thomson Legal can assist you. Please get in touch via the Contact Us details for a confidential discussion.

Thomson Legal

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