The TOP 50 Law Firms in Japan, 2007



I am Ichiro Fujimoto, attorney at law @ Yodoyabashi & Yamagami LPC (see below), admitted in Japan and in New York. I made the list below that shows Japanese Top 50 law firms, as of April 2, 2007, based on the data in the Japan federal Bar Association.

Classified by "NUMBER" of lawyers

The list below is ranked only by the number of Bengoshi in a law firm. This is partly because there is no official organization that knows the income, reputation, or salary of a law firm.

Bengoshi v. Gaikokuhou Jimu Bengoshi??

"Bengoshi" have passed the Japanese bar exam. They can handle all the legal field in Japan.

The registration of "Gaikoku Hou Jim Bengoshi" ("GJB") needs practice as attorney in a foreign country at least for two years. The number does not include foregin lawyers who do not register as GJB.

GJB can handle all the legal cases that have substantial connection with their admitted area's laws. For example, GJB that are admitted in New York state can answer their clients' questions regarding New York State laws or US federal laws. However, GJB admitted in New York state but not (JP) Bengoshi cannot represent a lawsuit in Japanese courts.

In order to understand this difference between Bengoshi and GJB, you can refer the difference between Attorney and Foreign Legal Consultant in California. Japanese system is in a sense similar to the California system.

What is "class 58"?

This is the class of The Legal Training and Research Institute of the Supreme Court of Japan. All "Bengoshi" have to finish this training. Class 59s complete the training in October 2006. Class 58s complete the training in October 2005.

What is "LPC"?

LPC is the abbreviation for "Legal Professional Corporation."
Under Japanese laws, all the directors of LPC must be attorneys and LPC is the only entity (other than General Partnership) that can hire attorneys. Unlike United States or Europe, attorneys cannot become the partner of "LLP" (Limited Liability Partnership), and LLP cannot hire attorenys. So, foreign law firms must notice such a Japanese legal structure. (If a foregin law firm ignores the JP reguration, the partners out of Japan might owe unexpected duty in person when a legal malpractice happens in Japan.)

Law Firm NamePlace of Office(s) in JapanNumber of BENGOSHI (Japanese attorenys)GJBClass 59Class 58Class 57Note
1111Nagashima, Ohno & TsunematsuTokyo2554302322 
2333Nishimura & PartnersTokyo2361292721 
3222Mori Hamada & MatsumotoTokyo2211201618 
4444Anderson Mori & TomotsuneTokyo2061211922 
5667TMI AssociatesTokyo1311121019 
6555Asahi Law OfficesTokyo1201897*1
77710City-Yuwa PartnersTokyo8701066 
8898Baker & McKenzie GJBJ Tokyo Aoyama Aoki Koma Law OfficeTokyo8012746*2
9889Oh-ebashi LPC & PartnersTokyo, Osaka773774 
10101118Atsumi & PartnersTokyo492785 
11131412Iwata GodoTokyo411223 
11111011Ushijima & PartnersTokyo410346 
11111212Midosuji Legal Professional CorporationTokyo, Osaka410343 
14141316Yodoyabashi & Yamagami Legal Professional CorporationTokyo, Osaka400443 
16161923Kitahama PartnersOsaka391443*3
17172338Jones DayTokyo364543 
18171414Kohwa Sohgoh Law OfficesTokyo330114 
18232021Tanabe PartnersTokyo330332 
20171715Abe, Ikubo, KatayamaTokyo321412 
202533-Ito & Mitomi (Morrison Foerster)Tokyo320511*4
22331428Paul HastingsTokyo3110553 
22252328Miyake & PartnersTokyo311312 
242033-Cast & Itoga Legal Professional CorporationTokyo, Osaka302121 
25-47-Hayabusa Asuka Law OfficesTokyo293533*5
25202223Yanagida & NomuraTokyo290551 
27252638White & CaseTokyo280242*6
27-47-Haruki and Tokyo-Marunouchi Law OfficesTokyo280101*7
29232632Ozawa & AkiyamaTokyo270134 
29292623Chuo Sogo Law Office, P.C.Tokyo, Osaka270322 
32202018Tokyo Law OfficeTokyo260022 
33412638Sakura Kyodo Law OfficesTokyo250613 
33312632Shin Koji-machi Law OfficesTokyo250202 
33333318New Tokyo International. Attorneys at LawTokyo250230 
36312617Freshfields Bruckhaus DeringerTokyo240421*9
36414543Okuno Sogo Law OfficesTokyo240312 
38303328Yuasa and HaraTokyo230213 
38412323Toranomon Chuo Law FirmTokyo230502 
38414748Miyakezaka Sogo Law OfficesTokyo230411 
38364032Matsuo & KosugiTokyo230312 
38---Legal Terrace (Public law offices)22 places in Japan2301124 
38414043Nagoya Daiichi Law OfficesNagoya230202 
44363832South Toranomon Law OfficesTokyo220102 
444847-Momo-o, Matsuo & NambaTokyo220312 
44333841Kansai Law & Patent OfficeTokyo, Osaka220113 
47---O'Melveny & MyersTokyo214302 
473645-Daiichi Law OfficeOsaka210210 
47413332Tokyo-godo Law FirmTokyo210132 
47---Dojima Law OfficeOsaka210203 

*1 The previous name was "Asahi & Koma Law Offices"

*2 The previous name was "Baker & McKenzie GJBJ Tokyo Aoyama Aoki Law Offices"

*3 In addition, "Kitahama Legal Professional Corporation" has 11 JP lawyers.

*4 In addition, "Morrison Foerster GJB Office" has 18 Gaikokuhou Jim Bengoshis.

*5 In Mach 2007, many members in Hayabusa international Law offices and in Asuka-kyowa Law Offices joined this law firm.

*6 In addition, "White & Case GJB Office" has 24 Gaikokuhou Jim Bengoshis.

*7 In May 2006, Tokyo-marunouchi Law Offices and Haruki, Sawai & Inoue Law Offices are merged.

*8 The previous name was "Tanaka, Akita & Nakagawa Law Offices."

*9 In addition, "Freshfields GJB Office" has 1 Gaikokuhou Jim Bengoshi.

Short explanation

These 50 law firms has 2586 JP attorneys. This is about 11% of the JP attorneys.

However, notice that these law firms hired 268 JP attorneys of Class 59. All the JP attorneys of Class 59 are 1,262. So, these 50 law firms hired 21.2% of JP attorneys of Class 59. In other words, now oligopoly is underway in Japanese legal market. But the issue for clients is whether such an oligopoly is beneficial for clients. Conflict issues will be a big issue in JP legal market in the near future.

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