A 45-year ban on lawyers advertising their services and running promotional campaigns in Japan will be lifted today.

Repeal of the self-imposed restrictions set down in a 1955 code of legal ethics by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations enables lawyers to advertise their services in television and radio commercials, as well as inside trains, on the Internet and in newspapers.

The federation says the repeal is aimed at giving the public easier access to legal services.

Until now, lawyers were not allowed to give out any information other than their name, address, credentials and areas of specialty when listing their services in phone books or newspapers.

The assumption behind the restriction was that the quality of service would be compromised if lawyers sought to attract clients.

The repeal of the ban was approved in a vote at a special meeting of the federation in March as part of a package of reforms aimed at making laws easier for citizens to use.

From Oct. 1, Japanese lawyers will be able to list their areas of specialty and fees, within the guidelines drawn up by the federation.

Lawyers will also be allowed to state where they serve as legal advisers and even what cases they have handled, as long as the parties involved give their consent.

However, lawyers will not be able to cite the ratio of cases won or make comparisons with other lawyers, while solicitation by visits or by telephone are still banned. Disciplinary action will apply if lawyers break the rules.

While relaxing the advertising rule, the federation has warned against the abuse of advertisements, particularly in relation to credit companies and debt consolidation agencies that have forged illicit ties with lawyers to target people with multiple debts.

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