Ropes & Gray launches in Japan

Boston-headquartered Ropes & Gray will launch an office in Tokyo, its first international office.

The firm will relocate two of its Japanese associates from its New York office and will initially parachute in two IP partners, Jim DeGraw and Steve Baughman, to open under the name Ropes & Gray Gaikokuho Jimu Bengoshi Jimusho.

The firm’s application has been approved but is awaiting final approval from the Japanese authorities.

Although the Tokyo office will initially offer IP advice, the hope is to ride the wave of private equity work and restructuring that the market predicts will be big news in Japan over the next few years.

Known for its strength in private equity, Ropes & Gray already has clients such as Bain Capital that are increasingly working in Asia generally and Japan particularly.

This strategy mirrors those of the magic circle firms’, which have been putting resources into Japan recently.

Ropes & Gray also follows Boston rival Bingham McCutchen into Tokyo. Earlier this year Bingham announced its intention to merge with 22-lawyer firm New Tokyo International in October in a combination that will see Bingham’s foreign legal joint enterprise with Sakai & Mimura grow to more than 50 Japanese lawyers and six foreign lawyers (, 21 July).