For lawyers and other legal personnel at law firms(法律事務所の方)

About pro bono opportunities

We at Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) provide pro bono opportunities to lawyers and other legal personnel at law firms where they are able to utilize their professional and specific skills.

Contribute to society through pro bono work

Following are some examples for pro bono opportunities involving refugees:

  • Conduct client intake interviews with refugees regarding their persecution
  • Drafting of statements and opinions
  • Appear at immigration interviews with refugees
  • Research regarding human rights environment of country of origin
  • Research of foreign case law

Examples of collaborations

Support from O’ Melveny & Myers, a foreign law joint enterprise.*
*See article in Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japanese.)

Participate in practical training to provide legal aid to refugees

JAR is providing training sessions for those interested in conducting pro bono work in refugee issues. Lawyers and researchers at the forefront of refugee support activities will provide insight on immigration law, human rights environments in countries of origin, standards of human rights, and the practicalities of legal representation for a refugee client.

This training is open to lawyers (Japan and Foreign Qualified), Gyosei-shoshi, paralegals, and other relevant parties interested in providing legal assistance to refugee clients. Sessions will be conducted in Japanese. Space at the training is limited. Priority will be given to JAR’s Law Firm Partners, those who intend to join JAR’s pro bono roster, and those who currently provide or intend to provide legal advice and assistance to asylum-seekers. Consideration will also be given to organizational diversity. This training is being organized by the Japan Association for Refugees.

* Please also join the Refugee Assistant Training Course if you are interested in topics in refugee acceptance and overall refugee assistance activities. (The course is provided in Japanese.)

Join our pro bono roster

Join our roster of pro bono and legal aid lawyers, and save refugee lives while you set a precedent for pro bono and legal aid work in the Asia Pacific. Those on the roster will receive one email per month with a list of cases and other pro bono opportunities that are available along with any relevant time frames and deadlines (an additional email may be sent if emergencies arise between the monthly email circulation). Interested lawyers may follow up to take a case from the monthly circulation list and will be confirmed on a first come, first served basis.


Pro Bono Activities

Pro bono”, unlike volunteering, uses the specific and professional skills of lawyers to provide legal services to those who would otherwise not have access to them.

Only a fraction of those seeking protection in Japan have ever had an opportunity to speak with a lawyer. But legal aid can be the difference between life and death.

Mr. X was a journalist in his home country, who wrote about corruption in the government and exposed activities of extremist groups. It wasn’t long before he became a target. His request for asylum was rejected by the Japanese Government and he faced deportation back to likely death or horrific persecution. But when his lawyer and JAR got involved on appeal, they fought for him until they won full refugee recognition in his case, literally saving the life of their client.

To quote Masayo Nobe, an attorney at Morrison Foerster, “Pro Bono work is about having the courage to step outside your comfort zone to make a difference in another person’s life–the highest achievement one can strive for as a lawyer.”

JAR provides over 10,000 consultations annually to refugees and refugee applicants. Refugees are survivors, and their stories, although horrific, can be inspiring accounts of strength in the face of incredible adversity. As insurmountable as the world’s atrocities can seem, refugee law saves thousands of lives every year. By providing legal aid to a refugee you can save a life. We are looking forward to working with you.

Please feel free to contact us:

Protection and Assistance Unit / Legal Officers: Tada / Barbour / Kirsten
Tel: 03-5379-6001 /

* Japan Association for Refugees is an implementing partner organization with UNHCR.