Management shake-up in Asia; Singapore's managing partner steps down
In an unprecedented move, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has appointed a bengoshi as overall head of its Japanese joint venture. Naoki Kinami will replace Charles Stevens when he retires as managing partner of the Toyko office later this year. Stevens, who has been a licensed foreign lawyer in Japan since 1987, will officially hand over the reins to the dual US-Japanese qualified Kinami on 31 October 2002. As managing partner of the Toyko office, Stevens also oversees Freshfields' international law operations. Primary responsibility for the international law side will be handed over to James Lawden, who has been a Freshfields partner in Asia for the past 10 years. Lawden said: "We want to grow the joint enterprise and it is a priority to increase the numbers of bengoshi. However, we want to achieve that with the combined strength of our foreign law side." Kinami told The Lawyer that he aims to boost the numbers of bengoshi from 22 to around 35 by the end of next year. Freshfields was one of several UK law firms that asked the Law Society to press their case against Japanese protectionism in the legal sector last month (The Lawyer, 4 March). Rules introduced by the Japanese Bar Association prohibit the local side of joint ventures from enjoying limited liability status if they use the name of a foreign law firm. Freshfields' Japanese firm practices as Freshfields Law Office, but Kinami said that he had no plans to apply for limited liability status. The Singapore office of Freshfields has also shaken up its management, replacing current managing partner Roger Dyer with David Simpson. Simpson has been a Freshfields partner since 2000, but was previously the Singapore managing partner of Australian firm Allen Allen & Hemsley, now Allens Arthur Robinson.