Keith C. Wetmore, Chair of the firm, who traveled to Tokyo to attend the reception, commented: "Fifteen years ago, the firm's leaders demonstrated great vision with their decision to open a Tokyo office, and our Japanese and Asia practices continue to expand despite recent economic concerns. MoFo's international presence is vital to our practices in such key areas as project development and finance, mergers and acquisitions, securities and corporate finance, intellectual property, and litigation."
Morrison & Foerster was one of the first U.S. law firms to set up operations when Japan changed its laws in 1987 to permit foreign lawyers to practice in the country. In April 2001, Morrison & Foerster established a joint enterprise with the firm of Ito & Mitomi led by Fuyuo Mitomi, one of Japan's most eminent securities lawyers. The joint enterprise provides U.S. and Japanese legal counsel on multi-jurisdictional matters, while the firm's Tokyo office handles both business and litigation matters. Among the firm's clients are Fujitsu, Hitachi, Toshiba, SOFTBANK Corp, and Nikko Salomon Smith Barney.
"We have been very pleased to see our practice continue to grow and flourish notwithstanding the slow economy in Japan and worldwide," said Ken Siegel, Managing Partner of the Tokyo office for the past four years. "As Japanese companies have begun addressing competitive challenges through corporate consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, and as the Japanese market has increasingly opened to foreign investment, we find that the demand for high-end legal services has continued to grow. With close to 50 attorneys on the ground in Tokyo, we are one of the few firms in Japan with the scale to address these needs."
The strength of the Tokyo office is evidenced by the complexity of cases and transactions being handled. Recently, the firm represented Hitachi in its strategic alliance with IBM, including Hitachi's acquisition of a controlling interest in IBM's hard-disk drive operations involving over 20,000 employees located in eight countries.
The joint enterprise represented Paris-based client Air Liquide Group in the consolidation of its Japanese industrial and medical gas businesses with the BOC Group plc's Japanese-owned subsidiary, Osaka Sanso Kogyo Ltd. Air Liquide Group is a global provider of industrial and medical gases. Fuyuo Mitomi, along with Morrison & Foerster partner Chuck Comey and associate Scott Jalowayski, worked on the deal together.
Fuyuo Mitomi added: "Morrison & Foerster had long established a well-regarded presence in Tokyo. By joining Ito & Mitomi with Morrison & Foerster, we are able to reap growth and business opportunities - and deliver value to our clients beyond what any other firm in Japan can do."
Morrison & Foerster is one of the leading international law firms with over 950 lawyers in 18 offices in key technology and finance centers around the world. The firm has its roots in the San Francisco Bay Area and has had a significant presence in the Asian technology and finance community for over 20 years. With over 60 lawyers in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, the firm is positioned to provide both U.S. and Asian clients with on-the-ground support for their business ventures around the world.