Making Justice RealThe Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
Legal Services in Japan: Lighting Up Society With Knowledge of Legal Rights
Legal Aid staffers recently had the pleasure of hosting a delegation from the Japan Legal Support Center (JLSC). The Support Center is made up of over 50 offices across Japan that provide, among other things, free civil legal services, court-appointed defense counsel services, and crime victims’ support services. For areas of the country where it is difficult to receive legal representation due to a lack of lawyers, JLSC will provide legal services at appropriate cost. Interestingly, the Center also goes by the informal name Houterasu which is derived from their wish to “light up society with knowledge of legal rights” and “provide a place where people can relax in sunny comfort, just like reclining on a sunny terrace (terasu).” How inspiring!
The JLSC delegation consisted primarily of members of the Center’s Central Board, including several officers. Also present was a staff attorney from the organization. Legal Aid’s Director of Development Gregg Kelley, Staff Attorney Julia Lee and I met with the delegates and provided an overview of Legal Aid’s mission, governance, structure and substantive practice areas. The delegation expressed specific interest in how Legal Aid is funded and issues related to board governance. In the substantive law arena, the delegation was eager to hear from Julia, one of our attorneys who specializes in representing victims of domestic violence, about the legal protections available to victims of violence. Julia also described her work at the Domestic Violence Intake Center at United Medical Center in SE Washington.
When our discussion concluded, the Chairperson of the JLSC Central Board presented us with several gifts to show their appreciation. In return, we presented our very own Legal Aid baseball caps which were a big hit with the delegation as evidenced by the group picture above.
Legal Aid is fortunate to host delegates from other countries several times a year. It is always a learning experience for all involved and a reminder to us that the goal of providing justice for all is not only an American ideal.