A report on Higashimachi’s activities for 2010

By Yoshihiro Uetani*

First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation for your continued patronage.

On June 1, 2010, Higashimachi Law Office was incorporated, changing its name to Higashimachi LPC, and our Tokyo branch was opened. Following that, on December 28, we opened our Imabari branch. Furthermore, at the same time we were also joined in this new enterprise by veteran lawyers, Mr. Yousuke Tanaka and Mr. Takashi Aihara. We also hired Mr. Kazuya Yamashita in September.

With our three offices, in Kobe, Tokyo and Imabari, we are now able to provide a more extensive and flexible legal service.

At our office, we have always placed much emphasis on the continued sharing of knowledge, and last year was no exception. Our lawyers actively attended lectures and participated in study groups, on a wide variety of subjects, held by various organizations in Tokyo, etc. Upon their return, they were obliged to report back to their colleagues, on whatever they learnt, in feedback sessions. This system promotes the sharing of knowledge among our lawyers.

Furthermore, we also continued with study groups within our office, in areas such as financial law. We also held maritime law study groups, inviting specialists from overseas. In early morning study groups held once a month, lawyers shared knowledge gained during the course of the cases they were handling and discussed how to solve any issues that had arisen. Last of all, we held weekly case meetings, were we studied the latest precedents.

Moreover, as part of our globalization initiative, Mr. Maruta and I paid a visit to New York in March, as we did the year before, to strengthen our ties with some of the local law firms. Our office continued with its funding of the “Cast/Higashimachi Global Corporate Legal Affairs Course” at Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University Law School, in collaboration with Cast Group. Some of our lawyers continue to take weekly lessons to improve their English and Chinese language skills.

We have been holding monthly training sessions for our clerical staff, conducted by our lawyers, with the aim of raising their skill level, and last year one of our secretaries became the second to successfully pass the paralegal exam set by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. In addition, Ms. Zhang Li Xia, who has been working at our office, passed the Chinese bar examination.

As part of our commitment to the dissemination of information to our clients, following our incorporation, we held the “Higashimachi LPC incorporation & Tokyo branch establishment commemoration party” at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo on July 23. Over 200 people joined us in our celebrations. Coinciding with the incorporation, we renewed our website and are currently updating the column and topics sections about three times a month. Our “Quality Control Department” has been using questionnaires to follow up on our consultations and handling of cases. We held our 72nd Higashimachi Law Office Seminar. We also held our 31st biannual “Higashimachi Law Office Golf Tournament”, held at Hirono Golf Club and Higashi Hirono Golf Club.

Additionally, together with holding, or jointly holding, maritime seminars with invited lawyers from overseas, we have had regular study groups featuring outside lawyers and practitioners on British maritime law or American patent law.

From January 1 we were joined by Mr. Kazuhiro Watanabe (Superintending Prosecutor, Sapporo District Public Prosecutors Office; Tokai University Law School Professor; part-time auditor, Mitsubishi Plastics, Inc; Outside Director, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group). We also recruited Ms. Natsuki Taira (a Sofia University graduate) and Mr. Takuya Murao (a Kyoto University graduate), bringing the total number of lawyers to 22.

Currently we have four lawyers at our Tokyo office: Mr. Yousuke Tanaka, Mr. Takashi Aihara, Mr. Masayuki Kinoshita and Mr. Kazuhiro Watanabe; and at our Imabari office we have Mr. Shohei Tezuka, who moved from our Kobe office. Lawyers based in Kobe can assist those in Tokyo and Imabari where necessary, and can collaborate easily via our video conferencing system whenever the occasion demands.

The situation around the world has become even more chaotic than the year before, and it is therefore harder to see what lies ahead; however, at the same time, I sense there are signs that a strong new age is on the horizon.

Against this background, as our office enters its second year as a corporation, we must reaffirm our philosophy and, as a leading general law office, capable of handling the increasingly sophisticated and diverse legal needs of our clients appropriately and swiftly, we will aim to continue being:

  1. A law office which functions as an organization, rather than simply as a group of lawyers.
  2. A law office capable of delivering a high-quality, professional legal product.
  3. A law office which values the communication with its clients.

In closing, I would like to wish you all continued prosperity and happiness for the new year.

Thank you.

Yoshihiro Uetani
Chief Partner, Higashimachi LPC

*This is a translation of the original Japanese article