Asahi’s fightback comes unstuck as

Japan’s Asahi Law Offices has lost another partner as it struggles to regain its footing following the sale of its international business to rival Tokyo firm Nishimura & Partners (now Nishimura & Asahi).

Last week (30 June) corporate partner Rika Sato left the firm to join Jones Day‘s Tokyo office as a partner in its dispute resolution practice.

Her departure marks the latest in an exodus that has hit the firm since it announced plans to merge its international operations with Nishimura in April 2006. According to sources close to the firm, its headcount has almost halved since the announcement.

Notable departures during 2006 included 20 lawyers who left for Simmons & Simmons’ Japanese joint venture firm TMI Associates; 11 lawyers that were hired by Tokyo-based Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu; and two that joined Allen & Overy‘s Tokyo outfit. In April senior partner Fumio Koma left Asahi for Baker & McKenzie‘s Japanese outfit, Baker & McKenzie GJBJ Tokyo Aoyama Aoki Law Office, forcing Asahi to undertake a rebranding exercise that resulted in the firm changing its name from Asahi Koma Law Offices to Asahi Law Offices.

Koma took a team of three senior lawyers, three partners and a number of associates and counsel, some of whom were formerly with Asahi Koma’s joint enterprise Janssen Foreign Law Office.