Japanese firm Taiyo Law Office has been split in two by rival US firms O’Melveny & Myers and Paul Hastings Janofksy & Walker.
As revealed on www.thelawyer.com (12 September), Paul Hastings merged with the Taiyo Law Office, with Norifusa Hashimoto, Yoshi Takatori, Jun Usami and Ayako Kawano joining as partners.
The move prompted O’Melveny & Myers to poach the remaining former partners Naosuke Fujita, Yoji Maeda and Yukihiro Terazawa as well as former managing partner of the Watanabe Kokusai Law Offices, Kosei Watanabe.
Kosei Watanabe , founder and manager of Watanabe Kokusai Law Offices, has had a joint enterprise with O’Melveny & Myers’ Tokyo office for the past several years where he has provided bankruptcy and restructuring counsel to a variety of the firm’s clients.
He joined the firm with his six associates, to provide greater international and local legal counsel to the firm’s clients.
The expansion has seen O’Melveny & Myers grow from three partners to seven partners including four licensed Japanese lawyers.
Reforms introduced on 1 April 2005 permit a full partnership between bengoshi and foreign lawyers to practise in Japan in the form of a foreign law joint venture. This was an extension of the old regime of ‘joint enterprises,’ under which foreign lawyers were only allowed to advise on the Japanese aspects of deals with an overseas element.