Chicago Journal of International Law


Tokyo used to be a sleepy little legal market for most US law firms. There were exceptions of course, but the Tokyo presence of a number of international firms with a Tokyo office amounted to a single partner. In fact, while firms may have made grander claims as to the number of resident lawyers, some Tokyo offices of major international firms comprised nothing more than an ill-attended fax machine and a skeletal secretarial staff supplemented, on an as-rarely-needed basis, by visiting lawyers from other offices. Many of the lawyers that did reside full-time in Tokyo offices spent a significant portion of their time knocking on doors in Japan and other countries in Asia, or assisting with overflow work from deals originating in Hong Kong and elsewhere. That has all changed. Despite a prolonged economic recession in Japan-or perhaps more correctly because of it-and a downturn in the world economy, the Japanese offices of many major international law firms have been busier in recent years in terms of average hours worked per lawyer than any other office in their global networks. [CONT]