BIG FIVE? – Japan’s largest law firms—Nishimura & Asahi; Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu; Mori Hamada & Matsumoto; and Anderson Mōri & Tomotsune—continue to be monoliths in the Japanese market, dominating in the value of their deals as well as on the number of lawyers they employ. But one upstart firm has positioned itself to be a contender, hoping to compete with these firms, which have come to be known as Japan’s “big four.” “Four law firms are too few for the Japanese M&A market and I think we are in a good position to be one of the big ones,” said Takushi Saito, a partner at TMI Associates in Tokyo, told Law.com International’s Brian Yap. TMI, a law firm best known for its intellectual property practice, has been expanding. Founded in 1990, it ranked fifth in Japan by head count from 2010 to 2018, with more than 350 lawyers, according to data published by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA). In 2019 and 2021, it placed fourth, boasting a head count of more than 450 lawyers and overtaking one of the big four. And it’s not just growing in lawyer head count. TMI, which has six offices in Japan, 10 overseas, and has a joint venture agreement with the international firms Simmons & Simmons, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Germany-based ARQIS Foreign Law Office, has also grabbed an increasingly larger share of Japanese M&A deals among both Japanese and international firms.
WHAT YOU SAID
“The best way to become a partner is to demonstrate, every day, the skills of a partner. It’s crucial to recognize that the very best associate doesn’t always make an excellent partner.”
— Sara Margolis, partner at MoloLamken in New York City, offering some timely advice on how to make partner.