A report on Higashimachi’s activities in 2009

My name is Yoshihiro Uetani, and I am the Chief Partner at Higashimachi Law Office.

I would like to take the opportunity of the launch of the English and Chinese versions of our website to report on the activities of Higashimachi Law Office over the past year.

In February 2009, in response to the need to boost our efficiency and to strengthen information management system, we extended the size of our office by 50 percent. The attorneys’ offices are now concentrated on the 9th floor, and our consultation and meeting rooms are located on the 10th floor. In addition, we set up a dedicated “Bankruptcy Law Division” within the office, in order to better handle large-scale bankruptcy cases and related legal consulting.

In July 2009, we renewed our Japanese website to increase communication capacity with our clients and enable better understanding of our office.

Our office has always emphasized the importance of continuing legal training for all our attorneys, in order to further improve quality of their legal service. To fulfill this goal, in 2009, we accelerated this effort and dispatched many of our lawyers to take part in external training sessions offered by various institutions in Tokyo and elsewhere. Those who attend such training programs are requested to report back to their colleagues on what they learned, in feedback sessions in the office, thereby encouraging the sharing of newest information and knowledge.

We have regular study sessions, where university professors and other specialists are invited to come and give lectures on such subjects as the Trust Act, Companies Act, Revised Civil Code, etc. We have a monthly, morning meeting where one of our lawyers introduces one of the cases he or she is working on to the other members. We also have a weekly “case meeting” every Friday lunch time: a study group where our lawyers report the latest legal judgments. We also continue to have English lessons at the office once a week.

As part of Higashimachi law Office’s on-going response to globalization, one of the staff attorneys, Dr. Takashi Maruta was in New York until March 2010, where he stayed at Colombia Law School as a visiting scholar, and simultaneously underwent legal training at a prominent, local law firm. Furthermore, in July 2009, Dr. Maruta and I went to New York to discuss the possibility of promoting close ties with New York Law offices. In December 2009, I visited Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University with one of our Partners, Takahisa Fukumoto, to observe the “Cast-Higashimachi Law Course”, sponsored by Higashimachi Law Office and CAST, and we exchanged ideas and opinions with the professors in relation to teaching the course.

The paralegals, administrators and secretaries at Higashimachi Law Office are encouraged to attend a monthly training program, conducted by one of our lawyers, aimed at raising their general legal skills. In 2009, one of our secretaries successfully passed the Legal Assistant Certification Program Examination set by Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

We have been disseminating information to our clients through our regular Higashimachi Law Office seminars, and we recently reached our 60th lecture; however, since renewing the Japanese version of the website, we have also been posting new column pieces and news items about three times a month.

In May 2009, we set up our own “Quality Control Department” and implemented a system whereby we follow up on all consultations and entrusted cases, including surveys and questionnaires about our handling of cases.

We also successfully held the 29th “Higashimachi Law Office Golf Tournament”, our twice-yearly tournament, hosted by Hirono and Higashi Hirono Golf Clubs.

In 2010, with the new addition of Ms. Tomoko Hayashi to Higashimachi Law Office, we are now equipped with sixteen lawyers.

We are currently living in uncertain times, and the road ahead remains unclear; however, I feel that signs of a new age will soon come into view. In the midst of this, we will strive to continue being “the leading general law office in Kobe, capable of handling the increasingly sophisticated and diverse legal needs of our clients appropriately and swiftly.”

Thank you.

Yoshihiro Uetani
Chief Partner