Iwata Godo is one of Japan’s premier full-service law firms, with more than 60 Japanese and foreign attorneys. It is also the oldest major law firm in Japan, having been established by Dr. Chuzo Iwata in 1902, during the Meiji Period, as Japan was completing its transformation into a modern nation.
Prior to the Second World War, Dr. Iwata and his associates developed special expertise in practices of law particularly germane at the time - banking, maritime and electric power generation - and represented numerous clients in significant precedent-setting lawsuits. Immediately following the end of the War, Dr. Iwata turned over his practice to those attorneys he had trained and became, among other high-profile positions, Minister of Justice, devoting himself to the difficult task of reconstruction of the nation. Today, Iwata Godo continues to maintain these important connections with the Japanese government. In the past, it has had a former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Finance and a former Commissioner of the National Tax Agency acting as Special Counsel, and currently has as Special Counsel a former Commissioner of the Financial Services Agency.
During Japan’s post-War boom which began from the 1970s, Iwata Godo, under its second- and third-generation attorneys, worked closely with its traditional Japanese clients as well as with newly added clients, while also developing the new expertise and practices relevant for Japan’s revived and more internationally-minded corporations and institutions.
As its clientele moved abroad, Iwata Godo also sent its attorneys abroad to study, obtain foreign legal qualifications (approximately half of Iwata Godo’s partners are qualified to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction) and intern with non-Japanese law firms overseas. Initially the focus was North America, with ASEAN later added as an area of interest for the firm. Now, with membership in the FLI Network, Iwata Godo is privileged to have a true global network of partners to which it may confidently recommend matters involving its clients.
Iwata Godo has long provided its corporate and financial institution clients, (80% of which are listed on one of Japan’s major stock exchanges), with a full range of legal services. Additionally, as a large portion of its clientele works on a retainer basis, Iwata Godo has been able to second its attorneys to major Japanese banks and manufacturing client firms in order to cement further the historic bonds of trust and gain even finer-grained insight into the businesses (and problems) of its clients. Thus, Iwata Godo is able to use this accumulated expertise and experience to assist foreign firms more fully and smoothly integrate into Japan’s economic and legal environment.