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  • It’s now June 2021 and, thankfully, the legal market continues to trend upwards here in Tokyo.  We are seeing more law firms resume or increase hiring, as well as a steadily increasing demand for in-house counsel and compliance professionals.  So, while we’re still some ways off pre-COVID levels of hiring, we at Just Legal are busy and demand from companies and law firms is solid and growing.
     
    However, there remains significant uncertainty amongst people with whom we are speaking about potential roles.  The vaccine rollout in Japan has started but it is moving at a glacial pace, which is not exactly instilling widespread confidence that Japan is nearly out of the woods yet with regard to COVID.  Not to mention the looming specter of the Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics…
     
    That aside, it is a good market for (most) lawyers and compliance professionals looking to step up or take on a new challenge and those looking to cut back on the grinding hours of private practice with a move in-house, at least for Japanese nationals and those foreign nationals currently in Japan.
     
    With the borders remaining largely closed and Japan not issuing new work visas (I believe there are exceptions), unfortunately, those outside of Japan and without the right to enter, are stuck outside of Japan for a while longer.  We are getting contacted regularly by non-Japanese outside of Japan who, despite the COVID situation in Japan, are keen to live and work here.  We also have numerous clients (especially law firms) who are desperate for help here.  Frustratingly, the state of limbo that is the current immigration situation, is not allowing for a marriage of these two sides of the market.
     
    This will change at some point although it’s anyone’s guess as to when.  I personally suspect that we will need to see most of the Japanese population be fully vaccinated and a continued drop in COVID numbers before it does, however.  Q4 this year maybe, but more likely early 2022.  For everyone’s sake, especially, the broader Japanese economy, we certainly hope to see a return to normal (in terms of immigration) ASAP.
     

    Posted by 

    Paul Cochrane

    Private Practice, Compliance, In-house Corporate

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