Member Spotlight: Tsugumichi Watanabe

By Brendan Kennedy

May 11, 2021

Member Spotlight: Tsugumichi Watanabe


By Brendan Kennedy

Editor’s Note: The Member Spotlight is a monthly series of Question & Answers with NYSBA members.

This month’s profile is with Tsugumichi Watanabe, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and a member of NYSBA’s International Section.

Who are your heroes in the legal world?

I admire Ralph Nader for his persistence in causes that he believes are right.

If you didn’t become an attorney, what career path would you have pursued and why?

Before going to law school, I intended to be a college professor.  Many of my relatives were teachers and I enjoyed both making written presentations intended to persuade as well as sharing with others what I know – so teaching seemed to be a natural fit.  I use many of these same skills as a lawyer and in many ways the two professions are similar.

If you could dine with any lawyers – real or fictional – from any time in history, who would they be and what would you discuss?

Nelson Mandela.  I am curious about how his legal training and background as a Christian enabled him to endure 27 years of imprisonment as well as formed his political thinking and strategy in helping South Africa overcome apartheid after his release.

What is your favorite book, movie and television show?

  • John Hersey’s “Hiroshima”, a short book that describes brilliantly the strength of the human spirit and the sense of community in the face of a shared disastrous experience.
  • Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” an engrossing, well-acted film that shows how human self-interest affects a person’s ability to discern the truth about factual events.
  • The Late Show with David Letterman: The show’s zany sense of humor and comedic timing combined with Letterman’s ability to both ask probing interview questions and elicit honest responses made this a perfect way to unwind at the end of a busy day.

How did you decide on your practice area?

My first law firm had a rotation program for first-year associates before picking a practice area.  Nevertheless, getting a sense for a group’s practice based on a short rotation was not easy, so I picked Corporate as that was the closest to my law school studies.  Shortly after starting, I was sent to the Tokyo office where banking and finance were the main practices.  So, I transferred to banking and finance, later adding project finance to my principal areas of practice.

What is the best life lesson that you have learned?

You should try to have a plan for your life but expect that almost never will things go according to plan and that dealing with the unexpected can often be the most rewarding experience.

 Lawyers should join the New York State Bar Association because . . .

 NYSBA is large enough to have members of every professional background and interest and sections and committees that enable any member to find a home while being small enough that as a member you are not “lost in the crowd.”  For lawyers interested in cross-border matters, the International Section perfectly combines this balance of diversity and size.


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