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Legislative changes affecting Japan’s business environment have not only opened up its marketplace, but allowed for a joint venture between the country’s sixth largest law firm and Philadelphia-based Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Japanese TMI Associates has partnered with Morgan Lewis to create a third law firm, Morgan Lewis-TMI, which will focus on cross-border transactions in Japan. Clients of both firms will now have access to more than 100 American and Japanese lawyers based out of the Japanese firm. Lawyers from Morgan Lewis’s pre-existing Tokyo office will join the new firm. This joint venture is certainly not the last step in expanding Morgan Lewis’s global reach. The firm’s managing partner, Philip H. Werner, who was involved in creating the venture, said Morgan Lewis is in the process of getting a license to practice in Beijing, an area whose growing economy has been on the radar of many U.S. firms. “Japan and Tokyo were a critical step in building out to the broader Asian market,” Werner said. He said his firm has worked with TMI for years and has had many clients with interests in the Japanese business market. Discussions about a possible joint venture began nearly two and a half years ago, when it was clear that changes in Japanese laws would allow for U.S. and Japanese firms to partner, he said. “We started off saying, this is important to us because we want to be able to follow our clients to Japan,” Werner said. The firm’s business model has since evolved beyond that focus. “We would also be presenting this opportunity to Japanese businesses wanting to come to the U.S.,” Werner said. “Tremendous changes are under way in Japan’s legal, regulatory and business environment as part of a trend towards greater ‘internationalization’ of Japanese legal and business standards,” managing partner of TMI Associates, Katsuro Tanaka, said in a statement. “As a result, the legal needs of Japanese corporations are becoming increasingly global.” In order to have credibility with new business partners, Morgan Lewis wanted a base in Japan that would extend beyond its office there, Werner said. Morgan Lewis-TMI will have a strong focus on mergers and acquisitions, but it also sees promise for a real estate finance practice, Werner said. All of its practice areas fall under the broader scope of cross-border transactions and include, in part, securities, technology, life sciences and emerging growth companies. In a statement, Werner said mergers and acquisitions in the Japanese market are increasing. “During the first half of 2005, the number of deals announced rose by 10 percent compared to the previous six months, while announced deal values shot up 85 percent,” he said. Morgan Lewis has represented business interests in Japan and globally for some time. Werner would not say specifically which clients would be interested in using services from the new firm, but he did say that Morgan Lewis represents approximately 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. One area that is very important to the new firm is the pharmaceutical community, which is quickly growing in Japan, Werner said. Morgan Lewis-TMI was open for operation beginning Wednesday and started with 10 mergers and acquisitions lawyers, five from each company, according to Werner. That was the number necessary to begin the joint venture, and the company will now bring over 100 lawyers from the two firms to complete the venture, he said. The firm currently has six partners, three from each original firm. The venture will be managed by co-chairs Gregory R. Salath� from Morgan Lewis and Kunio Namekata from TMI. Profits will be split between the two firms based on the contribution of business, Werner said. This is the largest addition to Morgan Lewis since it acquired approximately 140 attorneys in California from the disbanding Brobeck Phleger & Harrison firm two years ago. Morgan Lewis has more than 1,200 lawyers located in 19 offices worldwide. TMI Associates, which was founded in 1990, has more than 100 attorneys.

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