CC sets up joint venture with Japanese law firm

Clifford Chance is extending its Asian practice by forming a joint venture in Japan.

The move will give the magic circle firm one of the biggest joint ventures in the country. Its Tokyo office already has 28 fee-earners, five of which are partners.

The partner firm will be Tanaka & Akita, which is being created specifically for the joint venture. Last October, two Japanese lawyers, Yasuhiro Akita and Eiichi Kanda, formed the firm Akita and Kanda, with the express intention of forming an alliance with Clifford Chance.

Now a further six lawyers are joining from leading banking and finance firm Tanaka & Takahashi to create Tanaka & Akita. Two of the Tanaka & Takahashi lawyers, Keiji Isaji and Atsushi Yamashita, are partners. The joint venture, which will be known as Clifford Chance and Tanaka & Akita from 1 May, will cover a broad range of work, from corporate, finance and securities to property and litigation.

Clifford Chance Tokyo managing partner Rob Burley says Japan's status as one of the most sophisticated markets precipitated the decision. “An upturn in foreign investment due to restructuring and deregulation of the economy underlines the need for a combined international and local law capability,” he says.

The announcement comes just months after the firm's last Asian joint venture attempt collapsed. Last year it was granted a licence to align with the Wong Partnership in Singapore, but it fell through in October after Lee Suet Fern quit.

Clifford Chance joins a range of UK firms already in Japanese joint ventures. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has Freshfields Law Office and Allen & Overy has an association with Akatsuki International Law Office.

Burley and Isaji will be managing partners of Clifford Chance and Tanaka & Akita. Tanaka & Takahashi was unavailable for comment.