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Overview of the situation of the spread of COVID-19 and its influence on legal professionals and practices

On April 7, a state of emergency was declared for seven prefectures, including Tokyo, and on April 16, the state of emergency was extended to cover the entire country. The prefectural governors of the areas covered by the declaration of the state of emergency can request residents to refrain from going out of their homes unless it is necessary to maintain their lives, and they can also request and give instructions to close schools and restrict the use of department stores, theaters and other facilities where many people gather, among other things. However, there are no penalties for failure to comply with these requests.

During the period of the declaration of the state of emergency, citizens followed the requests of the prefectural governors and restrained themselves at home except for going to medical facilities, shopping for daily necessities, commuting to work if necessary, and, outdoor exercise and walking. Many businesses also restricted their employees from coming to work and closed restaurants and other establishments that gather many people. From elementary schools to universities, schools were also closed.

As such, following the request of the prefectural governors, social activities were greatly restricted.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also closed its main entrance in accordance with the business continuity plan (BCP), and the number of employees who came to work was greatly reduced by basically staying at home, while those who were able to telework worked from home. The unavailability of the building for committee activities led to a significant reduction in normal operations, including canceling committee meetings and events.

Currently, we are returning to a normal business structure as much as possible while using online tools.

Activities of the JFBA and local bar associations

a. Initiatives for its members

  • Establishment of the task force for COVID-19 infection
  • Conducting a survey of members
  • Provision of information through a portal site for members on managing COVID-19 infections including Q&A for legal issues, innovations for sustainable operation of the office, training videos, applications for various types of grants
  • Dissemination of guidelines for law firms to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • Conducting business support telephone consultations for members (Lawyer Business Support Hotline)
  • Provision of information on the application of the Natural Disaster Debt Settlement Guidelines on damages caused by COVID-19 (online training, Q&A, various public announcements, etc.)
  • Coordination and support with various local bar associations
  • Coordination with related organizations including the Japan Legal Support Center (Houterasu) for the realization of legal consultation by telephone and a swift resumption of legal consultation at LAC (Legal Access Center) through cooperation with the relevant insurance companies

b. Initiatives for society

Regarding the Courts

Legal Consultations

Human Rights

The Bar Exam