In March 2006, for a period of two (2) weeks, I had the opportunity to clerk at Marshall Suzuki Law Group (MSLG) in San Francisco. I was nervous prior to starting my MSLG internship because I had only completed my 1st year at law school at that time. However, because all of the MSLG attorneys and assistants were very friendly and gave me detailed instructions, I had a great experience and learned a variety of important things while clerking there.
One of the attractions of MSLG is its notably positive atmosphere. All of the attorneys and assistants have good relationships with one other and work well together. An atmosphere conducive to free and open communications has been created at MSLG and problems are discussed and resolved in a straight forward manner. When you are working at a law firm as an intern, you might be reserved and hesitate to ask questions and offer your opinions. However, that never happened to me while I was at MSLG. Everybody welcomed me as an intern and we spent our lunch times together. That made it very easy for me to talk about things with them without holding back my opinions. In this way, MSLG has a unique and precious atmosphere, which made me feel comfortable and able to concentrate only on working and learning.
Another attraction of MSLG which has to be mentioned is the variety of cases handled there. Because I have studied abroad before, my objective is to deal with international cases, especially matters between Japan and foreign countries, when I go into practice. I arrived at MSLG with the vague thought that, in order to achieve my objective, I might have to specialize in corporate law and become one of so-called international lawyers in Japan who deal only with contracts. When I found out what MSLG deals with, I realized that was exactly what I would like to do in the future. MSLG engages nor only in corporate matters, such as negotiating and preparing contracts, but also with a variety of civil matters, immigration and court cases.
During my two week internship, I was exposed to many matters involving agency, divorce, eviction, translation of contracts, immigration and employment. Some of those cases concerned Americans, others involved Japanese people in the United States. I also worked on matters related to foreign corporations attempting to make inroads into the United States business environment. It was very interesting to observe that MSLG deals with such a variety of cases in this way. I was deeply impressed by the words of attorney Suzuki when he said, “Ill-treatment towards the weak can never be tolerated.” I came to realize that this concept is a very important matter for lawyers when I observed MSLG’s representation of an American person in a lower income bracket who was in trouble because of the eviction action brought by her landlord for no reasonable grounds. Therefore, MSLG has a very unique attraction as a law firm dealing with a great variety of international matters, including corporate relationships and human rights issues, and also as a professional entity building a bridge between the United States and Japan.
Since attorney Suzuki and Miyauchi were engaged in a divorce case, I had a chance to observe their negotiations with the lawyer for the other party. This experience showed me how to associate with clients and how to negotiate with lawyers. Everything was in English because the client was American. Although I am not sure if any other Japanese lawyers would be able to argue on the very same level with native English speakers, I suppose there can be only a few. Consequently, it is a precious experience for Japanese law students who are non-native English speakers to observe this kind of interaction if they hope to practice law in English.
Having had all these experiences, I now have clearer objectives for the future. I really appreciate attorney Suzuki and everyone at MSLG for giving me such a great opportunity. Thank you very much.
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