Allens Arthur Robinson has entered into a strategic alliance with a Japanese firm instead of opening their own office in the region in order to form a more "credible" Japanese presence, according to the Allens partner leading the new relationship.
The alliance with the Tokyo-based Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu (NO&T), announced today (1 October), is built off a cooperative framework developed by the two firms to service two-way trade and transactions between Australia and Japan. Both firms will retain their existing structures and financial independence.
According to Tim Lester, the Perth-based partner heading up the Allens Japan practice and the cooperative alliance, it made more sense for Allens to form an alliance instead of opening a Japanese office as NO&T could offer the scale and reputation needed to be successful in the region.
"You need to be credible in each market in which you operate and to be credible, you need to have appropriate size and you need a credible mass," said Lester.
"If you open up, especially as an Australia-based law firm, with just one or two partners and a few associates, it's really difficult to effectively service clients appropriately ... We think this is a much better way for an Australian firm - especially a firm with our footprint in Asia - to enter the Japanese market."
Lester said the alliance comes off the back of a desire by both firms to take advantage of "changing circumstances in the region and greater opportunities", recognising that although the Chinese export market is still growing for Australia, Japan will be remain an important trading partner long into the future.
The alliance includes a structured committee to assist with support arrangements the two firms have put in place for service delivery, as well as a structured secondment program.
Australian law firms have progressively been extending their reach and presence in Japan, with Blake Dawson opening a Tokyo office earlier this year.
NO&T boasts 330 Japanese lawyers in Tokyo as well as a small New York office, alongside 11 foreign-licensed lawyers.
Lester joined Allens in 2008, following a stint as managing partner of the Lovells Tokyo office. He said he worked extensively with NO&T during his time in Japan.
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