Six major activities

Guide and supervise attorneys

NIBEN requires its member attorneys to raise their own ethical consciousness, and guides and supervises them so that the public can assuredly rely upon their service.

To maintain and improve the public's trust and confidence in attorneys, all attorneys are required to appropriately resolve each case pursuant to the Attorney Act and attorney ethics. While each attorney shall make his/her efforts to accomplish this goal, guidance and supervision by the bar association to the respective attorney are also important.

NIBEN organizes ethics workshops and requires each attorney to regularly attend them. Furthermore, NIBEN has a discipline and punishment system in place whereby an attorney engaged in professional misconduct will be reprimanded, suspended or ordered to withdraw from membership, or expelled from the association. NIBEN also has in place a contact window for the public and a dispute resolution system in order to settle troubles arising between the client and NIBEN's member attorneys. The window and system provide assistance for resolving pecuniary troubles involving attorney fees and deposits, and for addressing complaints about the method of settling cases.

NIBEN's activities and services

  • Discipline and reprimanding attorneys
  • Mediate disputes between attorneys and clients
  • Conduct ethics training
  • Operate contact windows for the public (to deal with complaints)
  • Control unauthorized practice of law

About lawyers' professional autonomy

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and each local bar association enjoy autonomy.

Enjoying autonomy means in short that an attorney is not subject to any supervisory authority. In Japan, beside attorneys, we have a variety of nationally qualified professions such as certified public accountants, patent attorneys, judicial scriveners, and certified tax accountants, each being subject to specific supervisory authorities. But this is not the case with attorneys, who are supervised by bar associations. In the pre-war days attorneys were supervised by the Minister of Justice, but upon the formulation of the postwar Constitution a new attorney act was enacted in accordance with the principles thereof providing for attorney autonomy.

An attorney acts to protect his/her client's rights. His contender could be the state or a government agency. In criminal cases, for instance, an attorney's contender is always a government agency.

In such cases, an attorney is placed in a tough adversarial relationship with the state or a government agency. Then, what would happen if in such a case the state who sits on the other side "directs" the attorney by exercising its supervisory power? If an attorney's activity is weakened, he would not be able to sufficiently protect people's rights. In short, attorney autonomy is granted to guarantee a full-range of activities that should be performed by attorneys. So this is a very important system for the protection of people's rights.

Internationally, many countries adopt a system whereby attorneys are supervised by the court. We should be very careful lest attorneys should be deprived of autonomy. Attorneys themselves must tenaciously defend their autonomy. It is really a difficult task for an attorney to be engaged in the bar association's activities on top of his own legal activities, but it is a very important task that must be done by somebody in any case.