While Japan's "Big Four" firms have taken note of the growth of in-house counsel, they don't yet see it as a source of attrition for themselves. Japan's in-house market is still far from being as saturated as that of, say, the United States. "We see that some companies may be [hiring staff lawyers], but it's not drastic at all," says Masanori Sato, a Tokyo-based partner at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto.
And Japanese firms have already realized that there can be an advantage when one of their lawyers makes a lateral move to a corporation. As Taro Tsunoda, a Tokyo-based partner at Anderson Mori, notes, "If you can place your associates [at a company], they could bring work from potential future clients."
This article originally appeared in The Asian Lawyer.