Global law firm White & Case LLP celebrates its 25th anniversary in Tokyo this week, culminating in a reception for several hundred clients and friends on Tuesday evening, September 11th, where the key theme will be to offer thanks for their support over the years.
This is an important milestone for the Firm which, in 1987, was one of the first international law firms to establish an office in Japan.
“After 25 years we feel very much a part of the fabric of Japan”, stated White & Case executive partner in Tokyo, Brian Strawn. “We are now close to 100 lawyers – one of the largest international firms in this market – having grown alongside the needs of our clients.” He added, “When you consider our structure, we have equal numbers of Japan-admitted bengoshi and international lawyers qualified in the US, the UK and elsewhere – this has played an important role in the firm’s success in Japan where flexibility has been key to many of the larger cross-border transactions in which we have been involved.”
Some key milestones for White & Case in Japan over the past 25 years include:
(1) Being the first to form a joint enterprise with Japan-licensed bengoshi in 1995 and setting the standard for an integrated law practice of foreign and Japanese lawyers which has served as the model for many other international law offices in Japan;
(2) Establishing White & Case early on as the ‘go to’ firm in a number of areas of law, including cross-border tax controversy (particularly transfer pricing), real estate, financial regulation, M&A, asset finance and project finance, and more recently in international competition law and disputes;
(3) In relation to LNG-related financings, working with Japanese sponsors, White & Case in Tokyo developed the structure that has become the standard used for JBIC non-recourse financing of LNG tankers. The Firm has successfully brought six LNG tanker project financings to closing using this structure, and is currently advising on the financing of three additional LNG tankers. These tankers, which are exclusively used by Japanese utility companies, have brought additional security, flexibility and competitiveness to the supply of LNG to Japan;
(4) Developing structures enabling the first real estate asset securitizations in Japan, beginning with the first single asset Commercial Mortgage Backed Securitization (CMBS) for Toranomon Twin Towers;
(5) Advising financiers on the £3.2bn (US$5bn) Dentsu acquisition of Aegis, demonstrating the Firm’s cross-border strength between Japan and London – here the Firm advised on both the English and Japanese-law-governed M&A aspects of the deal which was lauded one of the largest advertising deals ever struck; while
(6) Being embedded deeply in the fabric of Japanese policymaking as a primary source of international input into legal developments across various areas, including tax, investment funds, finance, international trade, intellectual property and labor relations.
“I feel that we have an effective formula that leaves the Firm poised for continued success in Japan” said Barrye Wall, White & Case’s Asia Section Head. “With the majority of our international partners and counsel in Tokyo having lived in the country for more than 20 years, they understand how Japan works when it comes to the practicality of practicing law in Japan. It is this, combined with our strong culture of integration between international lawyers and Japanese bengoshi, which sets us apart from other law firms in Japan.”
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