Yukiko Kiso, LL.M. Class of 2013
As of July 2013
It's my pleasure to speak to you on behalf of all the graduates of the LL.M. program. I finished my program last June, so when I received an invitation to this ceremony, I needed some time to recall my experience at TUJ. But preparing my speech has brought back many great memories. It was a very tough and also an exciting time for me. Like the other students here, I am very proud of becoming one of the graduates of this historic Temple University.
I entered the LL.M program in May 2010. As a legal adviser at the Japanese trading firm for which I worked at that time, I needed to negotiate with counterparties all over the world. Besides, since I was also responsible for working with lawyers in the US and the UK on a daily basis, I had to discuss legal matters based on the laws of their countries when I couldn't understand the concepts very well. I had studied only Japanese law in the Japanese language, so I regretted that I couldn't keep up with the discussion. So then I made up my mind to go to TUJ, desiring to survive as a legal professional in the global field. Given that most of the classes in the LL.M program were at night, Temple was the best choice. It allowed me to continue working while acquiring a lot of knowledge and this honorable degree.
Soon after starting to study at TUJ, I found it was much more challenging than I had imagined. Especially for a non-native English speaker like me, it took a lot of time to read and understand textbooks written in English. In addition to the large volume of reading assignments, I had difficulties in understanding the idea of the "common law," which is different from the civil law upon which Japanese law is based. In the common law, students must read and analyze previous cases first and then must apply those precedents to the particular factual situation. This approach is completely different from that of the civil law in which the law means a written code. In my early days at TUJ, I had to struggle to get used to this new approach.
I still recall what a Professor taught me about an old case in property class. The case was about a dispute between 2 hunters chasing a fox. One hunter was chasing and trying to capture the fox, but just before he was about to catch it, the other hunter intercepted him and captured the fox. Both hunters claimed the fox. Under these facts, which hunter can claim the property of the fox?
I didn't know why the Professor had spent so much time on the facts of such an old case since the situation of hunters and foxes is far removed from modern society. But later, I understood I could practice how to analyze facts and how to apply the relevant precedents to the facts through the study of this well-known case. In fact, the professor told us that in 2002 the court had discussed this 1805 case in analyzing ownership of the baseball that Barry Bonds had hit in setting his single-season home run record the previous year.
Throughout my time at TUJ, I met many wonderful fellow students. Some professors gave us time for group work, which I firstly was not happy with. I was too shy to say what I thought because I did not have much confidence. But I got used to it after continuous repetition, and I found that I could learn from the ideas of other students and discussion helped me better understand the issues before me. Since most of my fellow students had responsible roles in their job, I know they found it very tough to read all the assignments, come to class after work at night, and prepare for the exams while doing their best in their jobs. They all were very motivated to study; we had very active discussions in and out of the classes, exchanging ideas of the law in different fields. Through TUJ, I made many friends and expanded my network of legal professionals.
In addition to a great study program, TUJ also gave me a career change opportunity. I thought I would like to work for a Japanese manufacturing company as I believed that manufacturing was one of the most rewarding industries in which to work as a Japanese person. When I was on a job interview for my present company, the interviewer was very interested in the TUJ LL.M program. I was told afterwards that I had gotten the job because I had so much experience in the practice of law on a global basis and also because I was continuing a program of self-development. Thanks to TUJ, I'm currently in charge of legal affairs at Hitachi Limited, advising on the making of contracts, resolving problems related to product accidents and M&A matters by applying my knowledge of both Japanese and US law.
Now, at the end of my speech, please let me have one more minute to talk about a personal matter. Among other things, TUJ changed my life. On the very first day at TUJ, which I recall was the day of orientation, I met a man who would become my husband one year later. He is also here as a graduate today. As I could never have finished the entire program without his help and sincere cooperation, let me say thank you to him. "Iori, thank you so much for your support!"
As far as we know, we are the first married couple from the TUJ LL.M program. We've been very lucky to meet each other, studying together and sharing this very honorable graduation.