UK firms in Tokyo

Allen & Overy (joint venture with Akatsuki International Law Office)

Partner in charge: Thomas Brown

Practice areas: project finance, structured finance (including securitisation), capital markets

The office was established 1988. Clients of the two-partner office include Jexim, IBJ, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Nomura Securities, Merrill Lynch and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Like most firms, it is actively concentrating on securitisation, with partner Salim Nathoo leading the offering.

Ashurst Morris Crisp

Partner in charge: Alan Kitchin, who is also the Asia managing partner

Practice areas: banking, projects, M&A

The office was established in 1990 and is one of two Ashursts Asian offices, the other being in Singapore. The office consists of three partners with seven further fee-earners.

Clifford Chance (joint venture with Tanaka & Akita)

Partners in charge: Rob Burley and Keiji Isaji

Practice areas: corporate, capital markets (including securitisaton), finance (asset, project, general banking)

The joint venture was announced earlier this year and makes Clifford Chance one of the biggest international firms in Japan, with 28 UK and 10 Japanese lawyers. Tanaka & Akita, as with many joint venture Japanese firms, was specially created with the idea of forming an international alliance. Clifford Chance has been paying particular attention to securitisation throughout Asia, and this year will see the firm expand its US securities practice out of Hong Kong and into Singapore and then Tokyo. Clients include Morgan Stanley, UBS, IBJ, Paribas and Jexim.

Denton Wilde Sapte

Partners in charge: Bill Bruinooge and Philip Quirk

Practice areas: banking and finance, company and commercial, projects, dispute resolution

Both Denton Hall and Wilde Sapte had offices in Tokyo, but the Denton Hall office closed following the firms' 2000 merger (see Herbert Smith below). Wilde Sapte, however, has been in Japan since 1993. The operation currently has two partners.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (joint venture with Freshfields

Law Office)

Partner in charge: Charles Stevens

Practice areas: M&A, commercial, capital markets, dispute resolution

Freshfields opened in 1988 and formed its joint venture 10 years later. It was the first UK firm to do so, and it has since built up a considerable stable of lawyers – six partners and 30 further lawyers, 16 of whom are locally admitted. Its client list is split 50-50 between international and Japanese institutions. M&A and capital markets dominate the office. The Japanese side of the operation provides a range of advice, although the international arm frequently calls on its IT and intellectual property capabilities.

Herbert Smith

Partner in charge: Steve Lewis

Practice areas: M&A, projects, banking and finance, dispute resolution

Herbert Smith opened just under a year ago when office head Lewis and his 10-strong team quit Denton Hall following the merger with Wilde Sapte. The office has grown over the 12 months and now has three partners out of a total of 14 fee-earners. M&A and projects dominate the practice, although there is currently a downturn in projects work in Japan. Dispute resolution tends to be for Western clients in Japan requiring a Western firm or for Japanese clients seeking advice overseas. So far it has resisted forming a joint venture, although Lewis says that the firm is looking at options.

Linklaters & Alliance

Partner in charge: Tony Grundy

Practice areas: capital markets, cross-border M&A, securitisation, structured finance

Grundy established the office in 1987 and it now has four partners and 18 fee-earners in total. Capital markets accounts for 80 per cent of its revenue, while corporate, led by Simon Davies, is a fairly new focus area for the office. US securities partner Patrick Sheil will move in May from New York to the office, bringing the number of partners up to five. It plans to provide local advice by May 2002.


Partner in charge: Michael Hancock

Practice areas: projects, corporate, securitisation

The practice was established in 1990. The three-partner office does not have a local capability but it is currently reviewing its position. Hancock reports directly to Asia regional manager Marc Bartel.