tokyo offices

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NewYorkStork
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tokyo offices

Postby NewYorkStork » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:17 pm

Would anyone who has had any experiences at any Tokyo offices mind sharing their experiences and any insights on getting involved in tokyo offices? Any dos/don'ts of screeners/interviews for Tokyo offices? Being the biggest and most diverse practice, I'd especially love to hear from anyone who has spent any time at MoFo's Tokyo office (feel free also, if you'd prefer, to PM me). Thanks.

NewYorkStork
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby NewYorkStork » Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:00 pm

Not to be a bother, but small bump :|

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Loose Seal
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Loose Seal » Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:54 pm

The only person I know who ended up in a Tokyo office (I think it was actually MoFo's office) took the position because it was an alternative to an indefinite deferment in 2009. I don't think he had to do anything to break into the office; there was an open position and he was willing to take it.

Sounds like a sweet gig, incidentally. He gets a stipend for cost of living!

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:09 pm

I talked to someone who had summered at MoFo tokyo. He said it was like NYC big law hours, but then more. Painted a pretty grim picture of it.

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I talked to someone who had summered at MoFo tokyo. He said it was like NYC big law hours, but then more. Painted a pretty grim picture of it.


i can confirm that--asked a mofo tokyo SA how it was and they said it was a sweatshop.

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:30 pm

NewYorkStork wrote:Would anyone who has had any experiences at any Tokyo offices mind sharing their experiences and any insights on getting involved in tokyo offices? Any dos/don'ts of screeners/interviews for Tokyo offices? Being the biggest and most diverse practice, I'd especially love to hear from anyone who has spent any time at MoFo's Tokyo office (feel free also, if you'd prefer, to PM me). Thanks.


I split between the US & Tokyo offices of a biglaw firm as a summer, don't want to get too specific since there are probably only four or five people from my year who did. What are your questions specifically?

As far as getting involved, how is your japanese? The better it is the easier it will be to find work. Otherwise pretty much everything is the same as just getting regular biglaw (so grades/school/etc). As far as MoFo being a sweatshop, it's biglaw, they're all sweatshops. They don't pay you the stipend because of an actual cost of living difference, it's a bribe to convince you to forego better work experience and, to a lesser degree, a better quality of life in NYC. Consider any time you're working with the US office of your firm/client/opposing counsel you're going to run on NYC time so you'll have phone meetings at 3am.

NewYorkStork
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby NewYorkStork » Sun Aug 12, 2012 9:22 pm

I split between the US & Tokyo offices of a biglaw firm as a summer, don't want to get too specific since there are probably only four or five people from my year who did. What are your questions specifically?

As far as getting involved, how is your japanese? The better it is the easier it will be to find work. Otherwise pretty much everything is the same as just getting regular biglaw (so grades/school/etc). As far as MoFo being a sweatshop, it's biglaw, they're all sweatshops. They don't pay you the stipend because of an actual cost of living difference, it's a bribe to convince you to forego better work experience and, to a lesser degree, a better quality of life in NYC. Consider any time you're working with the US office of your firm/client/opposing counsel you're going to run on NYC time so you'll have phone meetings at 3am.


Would you mind by chance PMing me? I have some specific questions but I also don't want to get too revealing about myself or you.

Thanks on a whole for the responses everyone. It's very useful to hear anything at all. I had heard that the hours expectations can be a stretch for a lot of associates, so it is interesting to hear this confirmed by some.

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awahoya
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby awahoya » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:09 am

I'd also appreciate any information re: this.

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:39 pm

it is a very different culture. Working Tokyo is not like working in Hong Kong or London. Japan is super advanced and modernized but the work culture is very unique.

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defdef
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby defdef » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:32 pm

What are the demographics like at the Tokyo office? Are there many Japanese staff?

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:44 am

defdef wrote:What are the demographics like at the Tokyo office? Are there many Japanese staff?


It's been awhile since this thread has been updated, but it's relevant to my interests.

In terms of demographics, it depends on the firm it seems. From what I could tell, there are four different models:

1. Small US Law Staff Only - This model is followed by the classic white-shoe NY firms (DPW, STB, S&C, etc.). These firms want to keep the operation very lean and only seek to do a handful of very high-value deals. Lately, it seems, they're doing a lot less M&A (which has mostly been taken over by MoFo), but mostly capital markets work. If you talk to STB attorneys, they'll claim they've taken over the entire capital markets field out there, but I'm not so sure about how true this is. In terms of working for these firms, you'll be working on big deals, but the variety of work will be very small. Also, I think you ought to be concerned about what happens if there's a small dip in the deals coming in.

2. Handful of Partners, Japanese Staff Only - Some firms have a foreign office in Japan in name only. For these firms, they only have one or two foreign partners to keep their registration, and the rest of their staff is bengoshi (Japanese attorneys). Baker McKenzie is one example. For obvious reasons, you can't work here as a young associate.

3. Separate Profit Base Model - Lastly, we have certain firms that are going all in on investing in Japan. Whereas firms in category #1 mainly rely on their NY offices' institutional clients, category #3 firms are looking to build up an independent client list. Not to say that category #1 firms don't do this, but they seem to rely on client development a lot less. Firms in this category also tend to work on a higher volume of deals (albeit not all of them being high value). Examples include: White & Case, Jones Day, and MoFo. I think MoFo is the most successful following this model as they've been growing dramatically. If you look at the deals they work on, especially M&A, it's on par or surpasses the white-shoe firm deals (multiple multi-billion dollar deals every year). The risk of working at one of these firms, however, is it might be hard to get back to the US unless you leave the firm, but these offices are probably going to give you some excellent training. For instance, MoFo works on a wide variety of different projects, but is forced to staff them leanly. While it may not be the biggest deal going on, you'll probably have to take ownership of that deal very quickly.

4. Silo Model - Some firms follow the model where each office is a somewhat separate firm in a sense, and when clients work with multiple offices, they divvy up the profits according to origination rights. I'd avoid any firm that follows this model like the plague because, whereas the other firms mentioned (minus Baker McKenzie, which was a non-starter to begin with for other reasons) would allow you to come to a domestic office for personal reasons, these firms are not really "firms" but franchises of the firm name. This is completely anecdotal but, for example, a friend of mine that interviewed with a Paul Hastings office mentioned an interest in working with their Tokyo office, only to be rebuked with "Great... you're interested in Tokyo... What's that do for me?"

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defdef
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby defdef » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:26 am

The above post was really helpful. I am going to be attending UVA in the Fall. I now live in Tokyo and want to know about the possibility of getting a SA position back here asap.

If anyone has any more in depth info about either working full time in Tokyo or getting an SA position here I'd really appreciate it either in the thread or via PM

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:17 am

unless you're absolutely set on working in japan for life, i'd be very careful about starting there as an associate. it's usually much easier to transition from the US to tokyo than the other way around. i have heard of mofo associates who were directly hired by the tokyo office that were later quite disappointed with their lack of exit options back in the US because they only knew how to do deals in japan. it also seems to be the case that the better post-biglaw options in japan are reserved for those with strong japanese language skills.

i don't mean to scare you into avoiding japan altogether, but i would seriously consider starting in the US and then moving to japan after a few years of experience.

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:unless you're absolutely set on working in japan for life, i'd be very careful about starting there as an associate. it's usually much easier to transition from the US to tokyo than the other way around. i have heard of mofo associates who were directly hired by the tokyo office that were later quite disappointed with their lack of exit options back in the US because they only knew how to do deals in japan. it also seems to be the case that the better post-biglaw options in japan are reserved for those with strong japanese language skills.

i don't mean to scare you into avoiding japan altogether, but i would seriously consider starting in the US and then moving to japan after a few years of experience.


How difficult are we talking? I'm going to be an SA with MoFo Tokyo this summer and was hoping I'd be able to transition back to states after 4-5 years. Is there really a prohibitive lack of options back in the states afterward?

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:unless you're absolutely set on working in japan for life, i'd be very careful about starting there as an associate. it's usually much easier to transition from the US to tokyo than the other way around. i have heard of mofo associates who were directly hired by the tokyo office that were later quite disappointed with their lack of exit options back in the US because they only knew how to do deals in japan. it also seems to be the case that the better post-biglaw options in japan are reserved for those with strong japanese language skills.

i don't mean to scare you into avoiding japan altogether, but i would seriously consider starting in the US and then moving to japan after a few years of experience.


How difficult are we talking? I'm going to be an SA with MoFo Tokyo this summer and was hoping I'd be able to transition back to states after 4-5 years. Is there really a prohibitive lack of options back in the states afterward?


I am not sure specifically about Tokyo office but I can speak about working in Asia in general on this.

People have told me (during my experience working in Hong Kong) that it is very hard to transition back to the US if you start working in Asia first. You will be doing US laws there but only as part of a bigger deal that is generally structured according to local laws. For example, if you are doing a Tokyo or Hong Kong IPO, you will work on the Reg S/Rule 144A part of the offering but the IPO itself is structured around local listing rules. It is very different from a SEC registered offering in the US. Working on these deals will not teach you much about how a registered offering works in the US.

Another thing is your professional network. You will work with clients, regulators and other lawyers in Tokyo. You will get to know them really well over the years. Transitioning back to the US means this network you have built up over the years won't be too helpful for your career moving forward.

eric922
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby eric922 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:23 am

I'm glad I found this thread. I was thinking about trying to do a summer job in Tokoy during law school because I've always wanted to visit in Japan, but maybe I should reconsider that.

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:36 am

I'm not sure if the above info is exactly correct, I mean MoFo Tokyo primarily does big M&A deals - lead counsel for Softbank on its acquisition of Sprint, for example, and that's just one example of many. I'd say you do a lot more M&A work than IPO work for local markets. Most of your work is for Japanese clients who are making foreign acquisitions, which seems to me to be a great way to gain experience.

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:unless you're absolutely set on working in japan for life, i'd be very careful about starting there as an associate. it's usually much easier to transition from the US to tokyo than the other way around. i have heard of mofo associates who were directly hired by the tokyo office that were later quite disappointed with their lack of exit options back in the US because they only knew how to do deals in japan. it also seems to be the case that the better post-biglaw options in japan are reserved for those with strong japanese language skills.

i don't mean to scare you into avoiding japan altogether, but i would seriously consider starting in the US and then moving to japan after a few years of experience.


How difficult are we talking? I'm going to be an SA with MoFo Tokyo this summer and was hoping I'd be able to transition back to states after 4-5 years. Is there really a prohibitive lack of options back in the states afterward?


I am not sure specifically about Tokyo office but I can speak about working in Asia in general on this.

People have told me (during my experience working in Hong Kong) that it is very hard to transition back to the US if you start working in Asia first. You will be doing US laws there but only as part of a bigger deal that is generally structured according to local laws. For example, if you are doing a Tokyo or Hong Kong IPO, you will work on the Reg S/Rule 144A part of the offering but the IPO itself is structured around local listing rules. It is very different from a SEC registered offering in the US. Working on these deals will not teach you much about how a registered offering works in the US.

Another thing is your professional network. You will work with clients, regulators and other lawyers in Tokyo. You will get to know them really well over the years. Transitioning back to the US means this network you have built up over the years won't be too helpful for your career moving forward.


I really don't think the firms out there do many deals like the one you're discussing. If anything, they don't seem to touch local matters at all unless they have an in-house team of bengoshi, which really isn't relevant in a discussion about what a young US associate will do in the office.

Initially I thought the same thing regarding building experience / moving back to the US, but after spending my 1L summer in Tokyo, I don't think this is necessarily true for all firms. (Disclaimer: I'll be a SA at MoFo Tokyo as well). For instance, the NY firms (DPW, STB, S&C, etc.) all de facto require their Tokyo associates to start off state-side (usually the NY office) for a few years. This is in-line with their recruiting patterns in the sense that you have to first get hired by New York, with the move to Tokyo coming later.

I think the only firm that really pushes SAs to start off in Tokyo is MoFo, which stands out from the other firms because they have a large enough team of US associates out in Japan to do entire deals within the Tokyo office. From an experience standpoint, this means associates will have opportunities to work on most aspects of any particular deal (especially if it's M&A).

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:23 pm

Anyone know anywhere that has the stats of the Morrison & Foerster Tokyo office? They don't have a nalp site. I'm curious how many SAs they typically take and what the offer rate is. Do they only take 2L SAs?

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Re: tokyo offices

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone know anywhere that has the stats of the Morrison & Foerster Tokyo office? They don't have a nalp site. I'm curious how many SAs they typically take and what the offer rate is. Do they only take 2L SAs?


They actually do have a NALP site:

http://www.nalpdirectory.com/employer_p ... ison%22%7D

According to NALP, they offered 4 out of 4 summer associates full offers. Also, I talked with a 2012 summer associate about the offer situation last year and everyone who worked at the Tokyo for all 10 weeks got an offer from the Tokyo office (this is what's reported on NALP). About half the class were splits (not on NALP) but it seems they also all got full offers, but not necessarily from both the US office and Tokyo office.

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defdef
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Re: tokyo offices

Postby defdef » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:unless you're absolutely set on working in japan for life, i'd be very careful about starting there as an associate. it's usually much easier to transition from the US to tokyo than the other way around. i have heard of mofo associates who were directly hired by the tokyo office that were later quite disappointed with their lack of exit options back in the US because they only knew how to do deals in japan. it also seems to be the case that the better post-biglaw options in japan are reserved for those with strong japanese language skills.

i don't mean to scare you into avoiding japan altogether, but i would seriously consider starting in the US and then moving to japan after a few years of experience.


How difficult are we talking? I'm going to be an SA with MoFo Tokyo this summer and was hoping I'd be able to transition back to states after 4-5 years. Is there really a prohibitive lack of options back in the states afterward?


I am not sure specifically about Tokyo office but I can speak about working in Asia in general on this.

People have told me (during my experience working in Hong Kong) that it is very hard to transition back to the US if you start working in Asia first. You will be doing US laws there but only as part of a bigger deal that is generally structured according to local laws. For example, if you are doing a Tokyo or Hong Kong IPO, you will work on the Reg S/Rule 144A part of the offering but the IPO itself is structured around local listing rules. It is very different from a SEC registered offering in the US. Working on these deals will not teach you much about how a registered offering works in the US.

Another thing is your professional network. You will work with clients, regulators and other lawyers in Tokyo. You will get to know them really well over the years. Transitioning back to the US means this network you have built up over the years won't be too helpful for your career moving forward.


I really don't think the firms out there do many deals like the one you're discussing. If anything, they don't seem to touch local matters at all unless they have an in-house team of bengoshi, which really isn't relevant in a discussion about what a young US associate will do in the office.

Initially I thought the same thing regarding building experience / moving back to the US, but after spending my 1L summer in Tokyo, I don't think this is necessarily true for all firms. (Disclaimer: I'll be a SA at MoFo Tokyo as well). For instance, the NY firms (DPW, STB, S&C, etc.) all de facto require their Tokyo associates to start off state-side (usually the NY office) for a few years. This is in-line with their recruiting patterns in the sense that you have to first get hired by New York, with the move to Tokyo coming later.

I think the only firm that really pushes SAs to start off in Tokyo is MoFo, which stands out from the other firms because they have a large enough team of US associates out in Japan to do entire deals within the Tokyo office. From an experience standpoint, this means associates will have opportunities to work on most aspects of any particular deal (especially if it's M&A).


I'd be very interested to hear what actions you took to set up the 1L summer in Tokyo. I'd really appreciate a PM or even an explanation here. Thanks!




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