During the upcoming 2015–16 academic year, Takayuki Kihira, LL.M. ’06, will visit Cornell Law School to teach a course on global M&A transactions. In addition to sharing his experience in cross-border M&A in the United States, Europe, and Asia, Kihira, who lives in Tokyo, hopes to provide students with guidance on Japanese commercial practice, including insight into some of the jurisdiction’s unique corporate culture and governance rules.
It was an interest in deepening his own understanding of laws and practices in different jurisdictions that led Kihira to study at Cornell. He had been a practicing M&A lawyer in Japan with Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, one of the few full-service international law firms in the country, for four years when he opted to pursue an LL.M. program in the United States, a common move for Japanese business lawyers. Attracted to Cornell’s beautiful campus, with its surrounding lake and gorges, as well as to the school’s Ivy League stature, Kihira pursued his education at the Law School.
In addition to the courses he took in corporate law and securities regulation at Cornell, Kihira distinctly remembers a class on initial public offering (IPO) offered jointly by the Law School and the Johnson School of Management. “The class focused on the practical aspects of the IPO process, and hence it was very helpful in understanding IPO practice in the U.S.,” he says.
Kihira also notes the value of the LL.M. program’s diversity: “It was a pleasant experience to meet with students from various jurisdictions and cultural backgrounds. It has helped me in communicating with many international clients and also negotiating with counterparties in cross-border transactions.”
He adds, “With increasing globalization, there will be more and more international transactions. In dealing with multijurisdictional issues, lawyers need to communicate and negotiate with a global mind-set. Cornell Law is a great place to learn not only laws but also various cultures and different styles of communications, to gain the mind-set it takes to become an international lawyer.”
After graduating from the Law School, Kihira passed the New York State bar exam and practiced with Shearman & Sterling in New York City. Working with the M&A group and Finance group, he advised many of the firm’s international clients.
Kihira then returned to Japan and is now a partner at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, where he practices in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate and securities laws, and international commercial transactions.
Kihira has been selected by various media as a recommended lawyer in the corporate and M&A sector. Most recently, he is listed as a recommended lawyer in the 2015 Asia-Pacific-wide rankings by Chambers, as well as in the fifth edition of “The Best Lawyers in Japan” by Best Lawyers.
“I have been successful in leading many clients on various transactions involving difficult negotiations both commercially and culturally,” says Kihira. “Japanese companies face various challenges worldwide in the global economy, and I am grateful for those opportunities to assist our clients in dealing with cross-border transactions.”
He notes also, “Recently, the M&A trend in Japan has been outbound investments and acquisitions by Japanese companies to expand their markets globally, primarily due to the shrinking population in Japan. Those transactions involve various multijurisdictional legal issues, and it is exciting to find solutions to those issues in collaboration with the top-tier local law firms in each jurisdiction.”
In addition to his legal practice, Kihira teaches M&A and Finance at Chuo University Law School in Japan. He has lectured for Cornell Law School’s Clarke Program Colloquium Series and for University of St. Gallen’s Executive M.B.L.-HSG program. His recent publications include Chambers Legal Practice Guides: Corporate M&A, Japan, 2015 (Chambers and Partners, 2015) and Corporations and Partnerships in Japan (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2012), as well as web articles for the Practical Law Company.
Kihira’s continuing relationship with Cornell Law School goes beyond his upcoming visiting professorship. An active member of the alumni community in Tokyo, home to one of the Law School’s largest alumni bases, he helped to organize a reception for Eduardo M. Peñalver, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, in Tokyo on February 24. More than fifty alumni attended the event. (The Tokyo alumni event will be covered in the fall issue of Forum.)
“We have many Cornell Law graduates in Japan who work as international lawyers like myself or as in-house counsel with Japanese or global corporates,” says Kihira. “In the global economy, it is essential for Japan to have more access to the international community, and in that regard, a strong relationship with a top-tier U.S. law school like Cornell is important. We also hope to proactively advertise various aspects of Japan, including the culture, commercial practice, and so on, to the global world.” Kihira was glad for the opportunity to welcome the dean to Tokyo, “so that the alumni community will be reinforced and make further contributions to Cornell Law.”