Japan is the world’s third largest economy and its vibrant capital Tokyo is the world’s largest mega-city, home to almost 14 million people, including the newest member of Eurojuris International: AI-EI, a boutique law firm specialising in dispute resolution and employment law.
AI-EI was founded in 2019 by Michihiro Mori, who was formerly a partner with Nishimura & Asahi, the largest law firm in Japan, where he was head of both the litigation and employment practice groups. When it came to creating his new firm, the inspiration was a model where client needs could come first, as he explains:
“In a large law firm, it is possible to lose sight of the client and what is best for them. With many partners and associates, conflict of interests will often arise. I saw an opportunity to make a more personal service, where we could create long term relationships and avoid such conflicts.”
The concept helped attract associates from his old firm, and there is now a team of nine lawyers and four support staff.
Michihiro added: “The goal is reflected in our name - AI-EI - because we focus on combining AI, the best professional and technical expertise delivered through our accumulated intelligence, with EI, our care of the client, which draws on our emotional intelligence.”
The team bring experience from large law firms and in-house, for both Japanese and international companies. And Michihiro draws on his career as a judge in employment, civil and commercial litigation, having served on the district courts in Tokyo and Fukuoka, and on the secretariat of the Supreme Court of Japan. As well as experience in handling international matters, many of the colleagues have studied overseas, and partner Hiroaki Matsui and senior associate Toshihide Haruyama are qualified in both Japan and at the New York bar.
Joining Eurojuris was an obvious step for the firm, as Michihiro says: “We could see it would be useful for us to be a member. For outbound international cases where we are collaborating with foreign or European firms, we do not have the network that existed when we were part of a big law firm, and we need to find the right partners at a new level, who will be focused on the client’s needs like us, with reasonable fees. Also, the number of cases referred to us from foreign law firms is expanding and we are looking for more opportunities to handle international matters, especially as this will be useful experience for young partners, and for many of our secretaries who are bilingual.”
Colleague Toshihide Haruyama echoes the importance of learning from membership of Eurojuris, he says: “Learning is very important – not only legal knowledge but also new ideas and a greater cultural understanding – and I believe we have much to share from our side also. Studying international cases with other firms will benefit our clients, including those with branches in Europe.”