Tetsuo Kurita, Managing Partner, One Asia Lawyers Group

Tetsuo Kurita is the Managing Partner at One Asia Lawyers Group. Currently based in Singapore, he specializes in all cross-border legal transactions, including M&A and international trade disputes. Tetsuo has held several prestigious leadership roles and responsibilities throughout his impressive career. These include being admitted as a solicitor in the state of New York USA and attorney at laws in Japan; legal advisor of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japan for Construction Company Foreign Expansion; lawyer in charge of small-to-medium enterprises foreign venture support at Japan Federation of Bar Association; special professor at Hitotsubashi University and Kobe University; Users Council Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC); and acted as a business development support adviser in Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan (SME Support, Japan).

Apart from these leadership experiences, Tetsuo became the first qualified Japanese lawyer to advise Singapore commercial law (Foreign Practitioner Certificate for Foreign Lawyer to Practise both Singapore Law and Foreign Law in Singapore (Section 36B)) in 2014. He is also the first Japanese lawyer to become a case managing officer at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), dealing with many cross-border dispute resolution issues.

Academic Background & Professional Experience

Coming from a humble background, Tetsuo’s journey to becoming a lawyer and, later, a managing partner at one of the leading law firms across Asia is indeed a testament to his hard work, determination, and passion. Tetsuo’s father was born in China in 1945 when World War II had just ended. While growing up, Tetsuo’s grandfather and parents used to have a dialogue with him about doing business across Asia and not confining himself to Japan. In addition to having the desire to conduct business overseas, especially across Asia, he was also passionate about empowering people through his skills, knowledge, and experience and, ultimately, bringing a positive change in the society. Therefore, becoming a lawyer was a career calling for him.

In 2003, Tetsuo graduated from the Tokyo University Law School. Looking back, Tetsuo shares that it was very difficult to pass the bar exam in Japan as the passing rate was around 2% then. This resulted in a minimal number of business lawyers, which was not enough. Determined and focused as he was, he took the bar exam while he was studying at the university and passed with flying colours.

Shortly after, Tetsuo began his career at the Mori Hamada Matsumoto Law Firm in Japan. After completing around seven successful years at the law firm, he decided to further his studies overseas in Switzerland and the USA. He pursued LLM from the University of Virginia. He later became a partner in one of Singapore’s top law firms, Rajah & Tann, followed by heading the Asian operations for Baker & McKenzie.

Having previously worked at some of the leading law firms for numerous years, Tetsuo identified a missing gap in the legal industry. He wanted to establish a global firm with reasonable size and costs to help clients invest across Asia. One Asia Lawyers Group is the realization of his dream.

One Asia Lawyers: Efficient Solutions in a Unified Legal Platform

One Asia Lawyers is a network of independent law firms created expressly to provide seamless, comprehensive legal advice for Japanese clients. Moreover, its member firms combine years of Southeast Asian legal experience in virtually all specialties of the law, from mergers/acquisitions to finance, real estate, and employment statutes. With its member firms in each ASEAN country and Japan, One Asia Lawyers provides an accessible and efficient service throughout the region.

What Makes One Asia Lawyers Unique Among the Global Law Firms? 

“What makes us unique is our diverse connection in the world as we have offices and member firms in 17 countries,” states Tetsuo. “One Asia Lawyers’ international legal network was created to support our clients’ endeavours to expand in the ASEAN market by focusing on superb advice, speedily delivered with affordable fees from each member firm.”

Likewise, One Asia Lawyers passionately supports the international growth of the Japanese legal sector, conducts seminars, assists lawyers in obtaining the necessary foreign qualifications, and recognizes the future by offering legal internships.

Overcoming Challenges that Come with the Leadership Role

Since One Asia Lawyers has offices across diverse countries, Tetsuo needs help communicating and maintaining unity among the members. He feels that even though they conduct online meetings and stay digitally connected, it is different from connecting with people on a one-to-one basis. Therefore, One Asia Lawyers organizes a yearly physical tour (Group Trip) to connect and bond with other group members.

Keeping Team Members Motivated & Inspired

To achieve exceptional results, leaders should constantly think about how they can motivate and inspire their teams. At One Asia Lawyers, Tetsuo believes in sharing the company’s vision with his team members and setting clear goals for them that lead to increased productivity. He also believes in the power of effective communication between and across teams, appreciating and recognizing team efforts, offering upskilling, growth, and development opportunities, and giving constructive feedback at regular intervals. These efforts not only contribute to increased employee satisfaction and employee engagement but also to company loyalty.

Work Routine of a Successful Leader

For Tetsuo, most of his weekdays are spent working. His schedule is packed with back-to-back meetings with teams, colleagues, clients, stakeholders etc. The weekends, however, allow him to relax, unwind, gaze at nature, pursue personal interests, and spend time with loved ones.

Pandemic Opening Doors to New Opportunities

Tetsuo shares that the legal industry has become more efficient and productive after the global pandemic, as lawyers can now easily complete M&A and conduct arbitration hearings online. Likewise, hiring lawyers from overseas and working online remotely has become feasible. Conclusively, the pandemic has opened doors to new opportunities for businesses across the world.

Nomination by Various Award

One Asia Lawyers Group, Singapore office (Focus Law Asia LLC) has gotten various legal awards, for example recognized as “Firm to watch” on Dispute Resolution (Local Firms) in 2023, recognised as “Firm to watch” on Shipping (Local Firms) in 2023, recognised by Asian Legal Business as one of Asia’s fastest-growing firms 2022 and also listed as one of the “Top 10 Employment Law Firms in APAC recognition 2023 by APAC.”

Expansion in South Asia and Middle East and Roadmap to an Exciting Future

As the Managing Partner, Tetsuo looks forward to increasing One Asia Lawyers’ team in Japan and Singapore to around 100 lawyers in the next ten years. Moreover, One Asia Lawyers is already marking its footprints across Asia. Last year, the law firm opened its 4th branch in Japan, Kyoto, and sometimes next year, it plans to open a new group firm in Nagoya, Japan.

Led by Tetsuo, One Asia Lawyers, decided to expand its operation in South Asia especially in India as numbers of Japanese companies and global companies are expanding their operations in India due to conflict between China and USA. In addition, One Asia Lawyers will open Dubai office this year as various fintech companies are expanding its businesses in Middle East.

Going ahead, with Tetsuo’s passion, One Asia Lawyers plans to become a truly international firm for businesses in Japan and beyond and be recognized as the top law firm in dispute resolution and M&A across Asia.

For More Info: https://oneasia.legal/en/

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