I chose SILS for my undergraduate education mainly because of the international exposure it provided, as well as the wide spectrum of curriculum choice available to students like me, who did not really have a clear clue as to what profession would be of most interest to me. By the age of 18, I had been studying design for 14 years when my parents decided that becoming a designer is not the ideal career to go into. I was made to choose another career, but I did not really know much of other areas besides art. Unwilling to make an uninformed decision, I accepted the offer from SILS and decided that I want to explore as much as possible before settle myself in one particular area.
Had I not come to SILS, I would never end up in the legal profession as I am today, because becoming a lawyer had never come through my mind before. When I first got into SILS, I focused on finance-related courses; the only legal class I took during my first semester at SILS was Introduction to US legal system taught by Professor David Waters. That class inspired my interest in law and, as it later turned out, completely changed my life track. As someone who had never had even a remote interest in law, the seed of becoming a lawyer was planted in my mind. The more I exposed myself to finance and law, the stronger I felt that law fascinated me more. As a result, I leaned more and more towards the study of law. After trying out various internship positions in business, I became to realize that my real interest and future lies in the legal profession.
Having a clear goal in mind, I started my application process for law school relatively early. Instead of doing the Exchange Program abroad, I chose to stay in Tokyo to brush up my Japanese. The whole law school application process went long and energy consuming, but it turned out rewarding. I got accepted into the Juris Doctor Program at New York University School of Law, which was on my top list.
The J.D. program is the most traditional legal education in U.S., and students usually find their promising careers in law, politics and academy after graduation. Applicants are required to take the Law School Admission Test, and high GPA is often demanded. The three-year program covers every core areas of the legal system of the United States and offers very comprehensive training for lawyerly thinking.
My first year at law school was fairly intense. I was the only foreign student out of the 450 J.D. students of my class. The language barrier as well as the nature of Socratic method teaching created a lot of pressure, and the students were working extremely hard to get good grades, as first-year grades largely determines whether they could find good jobs. On the bright side, the fierce competition forced me to sharpen my mind and work hard, becoming stronger and stronger. I survived my first year and got into my dream law firm. Among other things, I think the trilingual background and the substantial experience in Japan unquestionably made my application outstanding. In the legal profession, people who are fluent in both Japanese and English are in very high demand.
The next two years of law school are more enjoyable. I was very actively involved in a number of student groups. I served as the President of Asia Law Society at NYU law school. We organized annual delegation trips to Hong Kong and Japan to network and explore the legal and business opportunities in these jurisdictions. I found it especially interesting to revisit Japan after three years, and a walk around Waseda campus reminded me of how big the impact SILS has on my life.
After graduation, I will be working in a major law firm headquartered in New York and have branch offices all over the globe. My primary interest is in Merger and Acquisition and private equity. The fact that more than 600 lawyers working in the New York office means that I can be exposed to a wide range of practice areas yet still being able to concentrate my expertise in certain area. After a few years of practicing in New York, my plan is to relocate to the firm’s Asia offices continuing to advance in my legal career.