U.S. legal firm, citing globalism, hopes to tap into Japan

As companies increasingly engage in cross-border transactions and international operations, legal services are also going global, according to a U.S. law firm hoping to tap into the Japanese market.

Applying the concept of “one-stop shopping” to legal services, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue aims to offer clients services that cover major business and financial centers, including Tokyo.

“Jones Day’s strategy is not only to be present in the key centers of business and finance, but also to bring a broad range of services to those locations for clients that do business worldwide,” managing partner Patrick F. McCartan said, referring to Jones Day’s global network of more than 1,600 lawyers and 26 offices.

In January, the international law office merged its Japanese operation with Tokyo-based Showa Law Office, creating Jones Day Showa. The merger strengthens the Japanese operation and helps Japanese companies use the global network of Jones Day, McCartan said in a recent interview in Tokyo.

The law office initially entered the Japanese market in 1989. The Tokyo office currently has about 20 lawyers, which is expected to grow to around 30 within a few years.

“Through Jones Day Showa, Japanese clients can now directly go into the international network of offices and services for their needs outside Japan, including litigation in the United States,” McCartan said.

For instance, if a Japanese manufacture finds a problem in its product that is exported to the global market, the law office can assist the company in dealing with a problem that has global implications, McCartan explained.

The merger is also expected to better serve foreign companies operating in Japan because foreign investment in the country has been on the rise in recent years, McCartan said.

“With this merger, we are now in a position to present our American and European clients Japanese law capability in Japan and service those clients’ needs as they bring investment and other business activities to Japan,” McCartan said.

Despite the current economic slump, Japan is still the world’s second-largest economy and serves as an important market to international companies, McCartan added.

The major areas of services covered by the Japanese office include cross-border investment and mergers and acquisitions, and handling issues related to intellectual property rights.

Japan’s changing legal system, which has come to adopt a Western model, will also increase the demand for legal services offered by international law offices such as Jones Day that have expertise in the Anglo-Saxon legal system, McCartan said.

“Changes are occurring in the Japanese legal system, particularly in the areas of corporate governance and shareholder activism. In these areas, Japanese clients can benefit from the experience that our lawyers have developed in other parts of the world,” McCartan said.

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