Proposed reform would allow foreign firms more than one office in Japan

April 9, 2012 A reform bill drafted by the Justice Ministry of Japan would, if passed, allow foreign law firms to set up more than one office in the country.

Some foreign law firms, however, say that the legislation would not be enough to overcome the bureaucratic and administrative barriers to a greater Japanese presence.

Baker & McKenzie and White & Case have both indicated that they do not intend to open second offices in the country, despite significant client demand, because the legislation would require them to become an incorporated entity, changing the way they pay taxes and affecting the way that global partners pay taxes in the countries where they reside.

The administrative burden of such an overhaul would outweigh any benefits of being close to clients, said White & Case Executive Partner Brian Strawn.

In addition, incorporation would require international firms to create separate corporate entities for lawyers with Japanese qualifications and lawyers with foreign qualifications.


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