Orrick Hires Paul Hastings’s Yoshi Takatori for Japan Disputes

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, the San Francisco-based law firm with more than 1,100 lawyers worldwide, hired Yoshihiro Takatori from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP to head its Japan litigation practice.

Takatori, 47, started at Orrick Feb. 14 along with Shinsuke Yakura, bringing the firm’s total in Tokyo to 32 lawyers, said Mark Weeks, a managing partner in Tokyo.

“We’ve seen a big increase in Japanese and cross-border litigation in the last few years,” Weeks said. New litigation in Japanese courts rose 52 percent to 974,175 cases in 2009 from 2006, according to the judiciary’s website.

Japanese companies are suing more to protect their intellectual property, Takatori said. His clients include the sports unit of Bridgestone Corp., which sued Fortune Brands Inc.’s Acushnet unit over golf-ball technology.

Product liability and labor-related claims are also becoming more common, Takatori said in an interview. Takatori was chairman of the steering committee of the five companies sued by hemophiliacs who became infected with the AIDS-causing HIV virus from using blood coagulants in the early 1980s.

Baker & McKenzie LLP is the largest international law firm in Japan with 159 lawyers there, according to an Asian Legal Business ranking published in October. Morrison & Foerster was next with 116 lawyers.

Two other Paul Hastings partners, Jun Usami and Ayako Kawano, left the firm’s Tokyo office this year to join New York-based White & Case LLP, ranked third-biggest with 88 lawyers in the Japanese capital last year, according to ALB. Paul Hastings’s lawyers in Tokyo have decreased to 24 from 46 in 2008.

“The Tokyo office is in great shape with a solid team and we continue to secure mandates on many of the most high profile deals in the market,” said Toshiyuki Arai, the office chairman.

Orrick was the world’s 30th highest-grossing law firm in 2010, according to Legal Business magazine. The firm wants to add more lawyers in Tokyo to work on mergers and acquisitions and intellectual property, Weeks said.

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