Kujishi (公事師)

Kujishi is a Japanese term used to refer to persons who would stand in for the relevant parties involved in a lawsuit in the Edo period. Kujishi was also referred to as deirishi or kujikai. It is said that kujishi was the origin of the lawyer system in Japan after the daigennin (lawyer in the Meiji period) system in the Meiji period, but the nature of the systems was very different.

The main jobs of kujishi were teaching the related parties of the lawsuit about the necessary procedures and the techniques in the court upon request from such parties, creating necessary documents on their behalf, and making settlement arrangement. Kujishi received reward for their work by the related parties of the lawsuit. However, sometimes they were engaged in illegal conducts such as attending the trial and supporting the legal procedures pretending to be the relative of the related party or municipal officials, or buying old bond for debt or receivables ledger and using them to obtain money and valuables from the other party. The Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) often prohibited kujishi from working as agents in lawsuits and malicious abuse of process. However, kujishi was playing an important role as advising people regarding the complex legal procedures at that time and taking advantage of the connections with officials of magistrate's offices in the legal procedures, and they were imperative for the people in that period.

In addition, although kujiyado, who were kuji (public duties) agent officially approved by a magistrate's office, and kujishi were different, but in fact, the only difference between them was whether they were approved or not. There were many cases where managers and assistant managers of kujiyado were acting as kujishi, or kujishi were employed by kujiyado (雇下代).

[Original Japanese]