What is your impression towards an international lawyer?
- Working in a big international law firm in New York?
- Working in an international organization in The Hague?
- Working in the legal department of a global company in Tokyo?
I just started my career as an international lawyer a month ago, in April 2014. I received education in Tokyo and Washington, D.C., became a New York lawyer, and got a job in Tokyo. But I have to tell you this – it was such a long way (in terms of geography, time, and emotion) to reach here.
I have had a long dream to become a successful international lawyer. That is one of the reasons why I flew to DC for my master’s degree. So when I started job search, I was mainly looking at DC and New York, and the entire US at the largest. I thought working outside of Japan was the key to work “internationally.”
However, there was a tall wall in front of me because of many reasons: Japanese economy has been declining; I did not have any prior work experience; and I am not a US national or green card holder. It was very difficult to even get chances for interview.
Then there came this opportunity from my recruit agent; “Are you interested in a position in a UK-based law firm’s Tokyo office?”
I first thought “Why? It’s not even US-based. And why would I want to go back to Tokyo after all my study and qualification in the US?” Then I gradually realized some elements; the firm has just merged with a US firm; it does not have sufficient Japanese linguistic and cultural capacity for clients; and it is still in the growing phase in Tokyo.
These gave me a completely different view – maybe there is a way to work internationally in Tokyo too! Thanks to my experience living and studying in Japan and the US, I have a good command in both Japanese and English. I also have sufficient confidence in understanding and respecting different cultures.
Upon those thought process, I decided to take the position in the UK-based firm. It has only been 1 and a half months since I started, but I already have a feeling that I am working “internationally” in Tokyo, utilizing my language skills and experience coping with people from different cultures. Of course there are a lot of (rather, TONS of) challenges for me in terms of actual legal work, but I never imagined that my uniqueness in those aspects would be useful in this way.
Oh, and one thing has been happening unexpectedly – I am also learning European culture, which is the area I have never touched. I am excited what insights these lessons would give me in the future.
So, in the end, I have realized that the location of your job is not the only element to work “internationally.” It is true that the location matters in some ways, but if you have the same wish as mine, please do consider what the job would give you.
Working in your country may be a way to flourish internationally.
Image source: Flickr