Interview with Christopher Rathbone

A certificate in Legal Assistant Studies provides you with the practical training to effectively perform the duties which legal assistants and paralegals perform in international law firms and companies. Students working on the certificate in HR Management are also encouraged to take these courses. Let's find out more from the instructor!

Could you tell us about your background?

I'm Canadian and initially studied at the University of Saskatchewan (B.A. and J.D.). I have spent 18 years in Japan in Matsumoto, Nikko, Karuizawa, Sapporo, Kobe and Tokyo among other places, and have become fluent in the Japanese language, passing level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Since completing a Master's degree in law (LL.M.) at Hokkaido University in 2000 I have worked in Tokyo as a legal translator, and have been fortunate enough to be exposed to numerous international legal transactions. Through this exposure I have gained an understanding of Japanese law, and in 2007 I was appointed head translator at the Tokyo office of an international law firm. I have been working for Catalyst Repository Systems from 2013 as a consultant for review projects. Subsequently passing the Massachusetts State bar exam, I was admitted as an attorney at law in Massachusetts in 2010. I began teaching courses at Temple University in 2011.

What courses do you teach? — How can these courses help students and in what field?

Legal Translation Skills, Legal Writing and Paralegal Studies are the courses I teach at TUJ.

Legal Translation Skills provides framework and practical tips for translating legal documents. Legal Writing offers introductory instruction in legal writing in English, including drafting legal documents and professional correspondence. Paralegal Studies is designed to give a general overview of the basic skills and knowledge necessary for those interested in becoming a paralegal.

Do you know of any success stories of students who took your course?

Students become able to successfully translate or research and draft legal documents as a result of becoming more confident in using English and more knowledgeable about legal subjects. When students start my classes, many of them seem to be unsure of their ability, and it is very gratifying to see them gain confidence and develop their skills as the class progresses.

On an individual level, one of my students went on to receive a diploma in paralegal studies from New York University and is now working as a paralegal for a multinational aerospace corporation. Another student found a position as a paralegal at a prestigious US law firm in Tokyo. A Japanese lawyer who took Legal Writing received an LL.M. from the University of Washington School of Law.

What backgrounds do your students have?

Students have surprised me with their varying backgrounds. Many are paralegals working in legal or administrative departments of Japanese companies. Japanese lawyers take my classes to brush up on their English skills. Lawyers from common law countries take Legal Translation Skills to improve their ability to translate Japanese legal documents into English. Moreover, many professional translators take my courses to enhance their competency in dealing with legal documents.

Did you know?

Chris' hobby is genealogy and his best discovery was related to his ancestor, Betty, when he unearthed her deed of manumission, the document freeing her from slavery.