Lawyers in the Blake Dawson Tokyo office evacuated the building after feeling it sway during the earthquake that devastated Japan last Friday (11 March).
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Ian Williams, a Sydney based partner who was in Tokyo at the time, said he was in the middle of a client presentation about infrastructure opportunities in Australia with four other lawyers when the quake struck.
"You could feel the building sway and we looked around at each other and knew something was going on," he said. Williams added that all Blake Dawson staff and clients in the office at the time left the building in a "calm and ordered manner", with Williams then walking from the office to stay at a friend's place.
"I was lucky in that I had accommodation with a friend, which was about an hour's walk from the office, he said. "Tokyo has a population of around 12 million people, and after the earthquake many people just decided to walk to where they were staying."
Williams and the other Australian-based lawyers from the firm in Tokyo at the time, partner Chris Mitchell and consultant Bob Seidler, have since flown back to Sydney. Tokyo-based partner Natsuko Ogawa, who head's the firm's Tokyo operations and senior associate Damien Roberts have stayed in the city.
Williams was able to report that all the firm's Tokyo based staff are unharmed, that there was no damage to the office and that it remains open.
Blake Dawson is the only Australian firm with an office in Tokyo. Other international firms in Tokyo, including Baker & McKenzie, have also reported that staff are safe.
The earthquake struck on the north-east coast of Japan, almost 400 kilometres from Tokyo, with thousands confirmed dead and many more missing. In 1995, over 6000 people died after an earthquake struck the western Japanese city of Kobe.