Catherine O’Connell

Catherine O’Connell is President of WILJ (2020-2023). She is Principal Founder and CEO of her boutique commercial law firm, Catherine O’Connell Law. She is the first foreign female to set up her own law practice in Tokyo. She won Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award 2023 and Foreign Lawyer of the Year Award 2022 and is the recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year 2020.
Significantly, Catherine has been appointed in June 2023 as an Independent Audit & Supervisory Board Member of TOYOTA Motor Corporation. In June 2022 she was appointed as Outside Audit & Supervisory Board member of FUJITSU Limited. Through both of these appointments she has become the first non-Japanese female in Japanese corporate history to serve in this role on any Japanese Board. She is also Statutory Auditor on ASX-listed Japan subsidiary of CSL Behring and presides as Vice-Chair of the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of Japan, and Chair of the Legal Services & IP Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
Prior to launching her law practice in 2018, Catherine was Head of Legal and APAC Regional Legal Counsel for Molex Japan LLC. She held senior In-House Legal Counsel positions Panasonic, Olympus and Mitsubishi Motors, and has extensive private practice experience at Hogan Lovells (Tokyo and London) and Anderson Lloyd (New Zealand).

Catherine earned her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Canterbury. She is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England & Wales. She is a Foreign Registered Lawyer in Japan and member of the Tokyo Dai-Ichi Bar Association.

Catherine hosts the award-winning “Lawyer on Air” Podcast sharing inspirational stories about women working in the law in Japan and she co-hosts the “Jandals in Japan” podcast about successful New Zealand business in Japan. She also mentors lawyers aiming to secure roles on boards in the future. She believes healthy lawyers make happy lawyers and is focused on lawyer wellness, flexible working and diversity & inclusion in the workplace.