Freshfields Tokyo quartet leave to launch new firm in Japanese capital

A quartet of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Tokyo lawyers have left to form a new Japanese boutique, which will become part of the magic circle firm’s global relationship firms network.

Tokyo partners Akiko Yamakawa and Kazuki Okada have founded Tokyo boutique Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo with consultant Naoki Kinami, who will be a partner at the new firm, and associate Masahiko Kinoshita.

Litigation partner Okada, who focuses on employment and intellectual property disputes and international arbitration, previously led the firm’s disputes practice in the Japanese capital.

Yamakawa, a disputes specialist with a particular focus on employment, joined Freshfields in 2007 and made partner in 2015, while Kinami – who in 2002 became the first Japanese lawyer to lead Freshfields’ Tokyo office – advises banks, financial institutions and insurers on Japanese regulatory matters.

The new firm will work with Freshfields as part of its non-exclusive StrongerTogether network, which comprises more than 300 firms around the world.

The departures leave Freshfields with three partners in Tokyo, including Kaori Yamada, a competition specialist who was made up this May, and about 25 other lawyers. M&A partner Edward Cole manages the office, while the other resident partner is M&A lawyer Takeshi Nakao. Disputes partner Nicholas Lingard also supports the office, splitting his time between Singapore and Tokyo.