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May 5, 2011 2:26 PM

K&L Gates Hires Ten Clifford Chance Lawyers in Tokyo

Posted by Brian Baxter

K&L Gates hired ten lawyers, including three partners, in Japan from Clifford Chance following the Magic Circle firm's restructuring of its Tokyo office, U.K. publication Legal Week reports.

The partners joining K&L Gates are Keiji Isaji, Atsushi Yamashita, and Naoki Watanabe. Isaji and Yamashita specialize in civil and commercial disputes, regulatory issues, and antitrust matters, while Watanabe is a corporate partner who handles cross-border M&A and joint venture work.

K&L Gates chairman and global managing partner Peter Kalis said in a statement announcing the Clifford Chance hires that the new additions will help the firm "take a major step toward a full offering of services in our Tokyo office."

Also leaving Clifford Chance are counsel Noriko Annen and Noriaki Tanimoto and four associates, one of which, Tsuguhito Omagari, will join K&L Gates as counsel. Legal Week reports that the departures leave Clifford Chance with eight partners in Tokyo, as the firm has moved to integrate its local joint venture firm into the main partnership.

"After over 20 years in Japan, we have restructured our practice in Tokyo, in order to build for the future," Clifford Chance's Asia-Pacific managing partner Peter Charlton told Legal Week. "The Tokyo office is a critical part of our expanding Asia-Pacific operations, and we wanted to ensure that we had the right foundations for future growth."

Charlton, a former global head of the corporate group at Clifford Chance, took over the firm's Asia-Pacific operations in September 2008. More than half of Clifford Chance's new partners came from the Asia-Pacific region.

Earlier this year, Clifford Chance bolstered its operations in Australia by merging with 17-lawyer Sydney firm Chang, Pistilli & Simmons and 15-lawyer Perth firm Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe. One lawyer in Clifford Chance's Sydney office, real estate partner Peter Deegan, left the firm this week for Sydney firm Advent Lawyers.

K&L Gates opened in Tokyo in January 2010. The firm's Tokyo office started with three hires from Latham & Watkins who focus on international M&A and corporate finance work. The office opening was the sixth by K&L Gates in the Asia-Pacific region, where it also has operations in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, and Taipei.

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