Skip to main content

/ 5

/ 5


In a modern democratic nation such as Japan or Sweden, the law is one of the most fundamental and omnipresent body of principles - one could even argue that it is what keeps the Leviathan's pulse racing. Its guardian-esque nature not only reins in disorder but provides stability to its constituents. Hence, in both civic and commercial settings alike, correctly understanding its modus operandi should not only help us better comply to its at-times inscrutable rules; it can help further sharpen our competitive edge that keep us abreast, too. Nishimura & Asahi, one of Japan's quintessential organizations in all-things-law, has been doing exactly that for the past half century. Moreover, its legal insights and expertise are today more sought after than ever, as cross-border transactions from both within Japan and beyond incrementally increase. SCCJ visited Nishimura & Asahi Advisor Mr. Carl Gustaf De Geer at the firm's Tokyo headquarters office to learn more about the organization and his role there.


Originally established by the late Toshiro Nishimura in 1966, Nishimura & Asahi is today the largest of the "Big Four" law firms in Japan, with close to 600 Japanese and foreign lawyers working in its domestic and foreign offices. Between 2010 and 2018, due mainly to the increases in outbound investment from Japan, the firm significantly grew its business presence outside of Japan by opening overseas offices in China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab, Emirates (UAE), United States, and Vietnam. The success of this growth strategy helped solidify Nishimura & Asahi's reputation as a top-tier law firm, not only in Japan, but in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. For example, in 2018, UK legal research company Acritas named the firm the leading Japanese legal brand in the Asia-Pacific region. Other world-class legal pubilications and awards including Chambers Global and Financial Times Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyer Awards have placed Nishimura & Asahi at the apex of their lists in 2019. Going forward, the firm expects that an increasingly large share of its revenue base will be made from overseas and cross-border transactions.


As a full-service law firm, Nishimura & Asahi's lawyers have the most-up-to-date know-how in a variety of practice areas. To name but a few, these range from M&A, joint venture, corporate governance, banking & finance, capital markets, real estate, crisis management, and cross border transactions. The firm's illustrious client portfolio is a testament to its lawyers' all-round expertise. These include Honda Motor Company, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), and Takeda Pharmaceutical.


As such, the firm considers its ability to not only recruit professionals equipped with eclectic competencies as its competitive advantage; it also firmly believes that its organizational culture, where every professional can share, learn from, and further refine their legal and non-legal skill-set (perhaps in a somewhat Buddhist Sangha-like way) as one of its greatest assets.


At present, Nishimura & Asahi is the only "Big Four" Japanese law firm with a non-Japanese lawyer heavily involved in the day-to-day management of the firm (N.B. Mr. Timothy Jeffares - an attorney at law admitted in England & Wales - is the lawyer in charge of this unique role). Mr. De Geer, who only moved from Sweden to Japan in May, expects he will play a role that is just as challenging but somewhat different in nature, over the coming years. "As an advisor, I will likely facilitate Japanese cross-border transactions in Europe and European cross-border transactions in Japan and other parts of Asia. For example, in Southeast Asia. The region is where this firm has established a strong business presence over the past decade. [...] I've visited Japan many times in the past on business. I highly respect the people of Japan. I'm very excited to be living and working here now" commented Mr. De Geer, perhaps indirectly referring to the firm's collaborative and diversity-focused approach.


Mr. De Geer has been working as a lawyer for almost 40 years. Prior to joining Nishimura & Asahi as an advisor, Mr. De Geer worked for over a decade at VINGE - a world class Swedish law firm with offices in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Helsingborg, and Brussels. He has extensive working experiences in not only Sweden and Scandinavia but in other parts of the world - including China, Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States. During the 2000s, Mr. De Geer was heavily involved in the privatization of Swedish government assets. For example, in 2008, he facilitated the deal that sold state-owned company Vin & Sprit - the manufacturer of Absolut Vodka - to France'S Pernod Ricard for 5.63 billion euros (around 55 billion Swedish Kronor). In 2019, Chambers Global choose Mr. De Geer as Sweden's "Senior Statesperson" in the field of Corporate & M&A.


Another area Mr. De Geer is interested in at Nishimura & Asahi is human resource development. When asked about what insights he would like to pass on to his fellow lawyers, Mr. De Geer quietly shared with us his thoughts:


"It is not enough for lawyers to simply provide legal advice. Lawyers must also strive to be both practical and solution oriented. That is why it is important for lawyers to try not to talk in legal terms too much. Facilitating is a big part of a lawyer's work, too. [...] Also, it's important for lawyers to visit the companies that they are representing. That includes factories. That's the best way to really get to know them."


Mr. De Geer concluded the interview by offering a friendly helping hand to fellow SCCJ members


"I'm not an individual member. The firm is a Corporate Gold member of SCCJ. But I'm always here to help in any way possible. It doesn't even have to be about legal advice. It could also be practical advice about a sensitive business issue. I could be their ear".


SCCJ members can certainly gain an insight or two, whether it be legal, business or otherwise, from Mr De Geer's sharp, pensive, and reserved demeanor.


We would like to extend a warm welcome to Nishimura & Asahi as a new Corporate Gold member of SCCJ. You can find out more about Nishimura & Asahi at:




西村あさひ法律事務所はもともと1966年に西村利郎によって設立された。現在は日本における”四大法律事務所”と呼ばれる4つの大規模な法律事務所の中で最も規模が大きく、およそ600名の日本人及び外国人の弁護士が国内や海外のオフィスで働いている。日本から国外投資への増加を受けて、2010年から2018年の間にこの事務所は海外(中国、インドネシア、ミャンマー、シンガポール、タイ、UAE、アメリカ、ベトナム)にオフィスを次々と開設し日本国外への存在感を急速に高めた。この成長戦略の成功は西村あさひ法律事務所が日本だけでなくアジアやその他地域でも一流の法律事務所であるという高い評価を確かなものにした。例えば2018年、イギリスのAcritas社が実施したアジア太平洋地域におけるブランド調査で、西村あさひ法律事務所は日本の法律事務所として最上位に選ばれた。他にも2019年、法律関係の出版物で世界的に有名なChambers Globalやフィナンシャル・タイムズ主催のイノベーティブ・ロイヤーズ賞(アジア太平洋)で日本の法律事務所の頂点に立った。今後も、海外や国境をまたいだ取引は増加し、収益基盤の大部分を占めるようになっていくだろうと事務所は予測している。








ギア氏は弁護士として約40年働いてきた。アドバイザーとして西村あさひ法律事務所に入所するまで、彼はスウェーデンの法律事務所のVINGE(ストックホルム、ヨーテボリ、マルメ、ヘルシンボリ、ブリュッセルにオフィスを構える世界的な法律事務所)で10年以上働いていた。彼はスウェーデンや北欧だけでなく、世界の他地域まで広範囲にわたる職務経験がある。例えば中国、ヨーロッパ、日本、ロシアやアメリカなどだ。2000年代、ギア氏はスウェーデンの政府資産民営化に深くかかわった。例えば2008年、彼は国有の会社であり、アブソルートウォッカの製造者であるVin & Spritをフランスのペルノ・リカールにおよそ56億3000万ユーロ(約550億スウェーデンクローナ)で売却する案件に携わった。2019年、Chambers Global 2019においても、ギア氏はスウェーデンのコーポレート/M&A分野における"Senior Statesperson"に選出されている。