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Japan > Dispute resolution > International firms and joint ventures > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: international firms and joint ventures
  2. Leading individuals: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)
  3. Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)
  4. Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

Leading individuals: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)

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Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

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Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

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    • Daniel Allen - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • Ben Jolley - Herbert Smith Freehills

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Herbert Smith Freehillsreceives the highest possible scores’ for its ‘uniformly outstanding service’ and ‘unfailing professionalism’ paired with ‘an uncanny ability to consistently out-lawyer the other side and turn every juncture to the client’s advantage’. Practice head and ‘consummate strategist’ David Gilmore handles international arbitration; the ‘unbelievably insightful’ Emma Kratochvilova is ‘the kind of specialist who only appears once in a generation’ and focuses on the construction sector; and the ‘terrific’ Elaine Wong is recommended for energy cases. Clients also praise the ‘clear-sighted’ Christopher Hunt and ‘highly knowledgeable’ senior associate Ben Jolley. The department is ‘a true powerhouse for international arbitration and litigation’, and acts for clients such as Itochu, Marubeni, Sojitz, Mitsui & Co and Sumitomo. Peter Godwin relocated to the firm’s new Kuala Lumpur office.

As ‘the clear leader in the market for US-focused litigation and international IP disputes’, Morrison & Foerster LLP has ‘an excellent ability to build a realistic and effective strategy in a complex situation’ due to its ‘deep understanding of corporate culture and the Japanese market’. James Hough, who leads the practice, is ‘incredibly responsive’ and ‘his cool, reasonable and logical style always gets the job done effectively’; his recent work includes defending SoftBank in a breach of fiduciary duties claim. Max Olson, Louise Stoupe, Yukihiro Terazawa and Chie Yakura are also recommended; Olson represented Fujitsu Ten in a patent infringement investigation, Stoupe is ‘simply brilliant’, and Terazawa and Yakura handle IP disputes. Steve Comer retired.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP remains ‘a go-to name’ for technology, cybersecurity and regulatory matters, and clients also come from the pharmaceuticals, food, and medical sectors. Recent highlights include defending NEC in a patent infringement matter against Implicit, and advising the Japanese government on various strategic issues relating to cybersecurity. Further clients include the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Yamaha and Dyson Japan. Yoshihiro Takatori heads the department, which includes IP specialist David Case, the ‘excellentShinsuke Yakura, and Yumiko Ohta, who made partner in 2017 and is recommended for employment litigation.

With ‘a team of outstanding trial lawyers’, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP’ ‘is always client-oriented’ and ‘excels in IP-related matters, especially those involving the US’. Noteworthy examples include representing Mitsubishi Electric in several high-profile antitrust class actions regarding cathode ray tubes, defending Tsuburaya Productions in litigation pending in the US relating to copyrights and IP rights regarding the Ultraman character and related works, and defending Eizo in a patent infringement claim brought by Barco. Clients cite practice head Ryan Goldstein as ‘a superb lawyer with an amazingly strategic way of thinking and presenting an argument’.

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)’s ‘very responsive and coordinated practice works exceptionally well with its colleagues internationally’ to advise on cross-border and domestic litigation, international arbitrations and compliance investigations. The group’s client roster features Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Dell and Japan Transport Consulting. Yoshiaki Muto heads up the department, which includes fraud and compliance specialist Kengo Nishigaki; the ‘judicious, reasonable and responsive’ Joel Greer, who is recommended for construction arbitration; Tomohisa Muranushi, who focuses on employment matters; and tax and transfer pricing litigator Hideyuki Yamamoto.

Jones Day leverages its global network to represent clients in the manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, automobile and software sectors. NEC is a key example and the firm is defending it in a patent infringement claim brought by Uniloc. Maxwell Fox led the matter and is recognised for his IP litigation expertise. The practice is led by Takashi Tanazawa, whose experience spans product liability claims, tort cases, contract disputes and employment litigation. Koichi Inoue is recommended for tax litigation.

At King & Spalding, Christopher Bailey has ‘outstanding presentation skills and communication capabilities’, which make him ‘a highly commercial practitioner’, who clients ‘definitely want fighting their corner’. The practice remains focused on outbound contentious work for Japanese clients, particularly those in the energy, infrastructure, construction, manufacturing and automotive sectors. Associate and barrister Oliver McEntee joined the practice in 2017 and specialises in real estate, fraud and construction disputes.

Kensuke Inoue heads the department at Ashurst and draws on his corporate expertise to advise on M&A-related disputes alongside handling engineering and real estate contract litigation, employment disputes and other contractual cases. Inoue regularly handles inbound disputes for international clients and is also receiving increased instructions from Japanese clients; notable examples include JBIC, MHI, Modec and Marubeni-Itochu Steel. Counsel Anthony Hague is also a name to note; he acts on commercial and construction, disputes, regulatory investigations, white-collar crime, and arbitrations.

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Nicholas Lingard (who splits his time between Tokyo and Singapore) heads up the international arbitration team, which is a key area of strength for the practice. Recent work examples include representing a Japanese conglomerate in a dispute surrounding an infrastructure construction project in Taiwan, acting for a Japanese trading house in the enforcement of an arbitral award in Saudi Arabia, and representing Eurus Energy in an investment treaty arbitration against Spain. Bloomberg, Marubeni, Sojitz and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan are also clients. Daniel Allen is ‘one of the best senior associates around’. Akiko Yamakawa and Kazuki Okada departed.

Takahiro Hoshino now leads the team at K&L Gates, following the departure of Haig Oghigian to Squire Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho. The practice acts for foreign and domestic Japanese clients in a range of commercial disputes, arbitrations and criminal court proceedings, with considerable expertise in employment and workplace-related disputes. Hoshino’s clients span a wide range of fields including the financial services, technology, healthcare, aviation and leisure sectors.

At O’Melveny, office head Yoji Maeda handles domestic and international litigation and arbitration and is recognised for his employment knowledge; he leverages his experience in the US and domestic courts to represent clients before the labour commissions. Other key names to note include counsel Yukie Kurosawa, who is recognised for her white-collar crime expertise, and Hiroko Nihei (also counsel), who is the key contact for cross-border disputes, particularly international arbitrations and antitrust investigations.

Squire Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho is now ‘a key name in the market’ for international arbitration thanks to its recruitment of senior counsel Haig Oghigian from K&L Gates in 2016. The ‘knowledgeable and highly experienced’ team was also bolstered by the addition of data privacy and cybersecurity specialist Scott Warren from an in-house position and associate Lingyun Zhuang, who joined from TMI Associates in 2016 and focuses on China-related litigation, working closely with the firm’s offices in Beijing and Shanghai. David Miyamoto, who splits his time between Tokyo and Los Angeles, is also recommended and represents Asian-based multinationals in international litigation and arbitration.

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