“I think a lot of the firms, particularly United Kingdom firms, had a model to be as local as possible,” says Piyasena Perera, a former Allen & Overy partner who worked in the firm’s Tokyo office between 2004 and 2011. “It’s a big asset for saying you’re a one-stop shop.”
Perera, who is now a senior foreign counsel at Japanese firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, was on hand when Allen & Overy launched its bengoshi practice in 2006. Linklaters plucked two of the name partners in Japanese firm Mitsui, Yasuda, Wani & Maeda to start its own a year before.
At its height four years ago, Allen & Overy’s Tokyo office counted around 30 bengoshi; now it has five. Linklaters’s office in the Japanese capital is now down to 40 lawyers, from 60 in 2005. U.S. firms Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Paul Hastings have also substantially reduced their bengoshi practices.
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