Asako Shinohara

Asako Shinohara



Hello, everybody. It's my pleasure to stand in front of you speaking on behalf of all the graduates of the TUJ LL.M. program. First thing I would like to say is "Thank you" to everyone who supported us during our days at TUJ: fellow students, who always encouraged and inspired each other; our professors for stimulating us to think and to question; the staff at TUJ who always offered us timely and supportive advice; friends and colleagues; and, most of all, our families.

As most of us were part-time students with full-time jobs, we always struggled to arrange our work schedules to make it to class. Many of us were non-native speakers, which made preparing for class in the limited time we had available very difficult. However, we have made it here today to commencement because so many people have supported us.

Like many of my fellow graduates, a long and winding road has led me to this stage. My legal career started in 1997, when I decided to study international law in Kyoto University. At that time my interest in law was very tenuous, since my dream was to work in international sales. In 2001, after graduating, I got a job as a salesperson for a Japanese global company that sold printing plates in Europe.

The first watershed in my career came in 2007 when I was offered a position in the company's Legal Department. Though it was an attractive offer which would give me a chance to work in company-wide projects and broaden my field of activity, I hesitated to take the leap. To be honest, I was scared to leave my familiar life, abandon my original dreams, and jump into a completely new world. What ended my hesitation was a short e-mail from my current boss. In his last sentence he wrote words which I have never forgotten: "No one knows what she will get when a dice is cast, but why not at least roll the dice with your own hands?" Those words gave me the courage to open the door to a different world.

My new life as a legal adviser started smoothly, but soon my lack of legal knowledge became an obstacle, especially when I was involved in large international projects. Since I had almost no experience of the common law, I strongly felt the need to study at a U.S. law school. After considering many possibilities, I finally decided to study at TUJ since it allowed me to keep my job, stay with my family, and learn U.S. law at the same time.

Asako Shinohara

In applying to TUJ in May 2010, I submitted a personal statement which ended with the sentence: "I am just about to open a new door, which is sure to lead to a new stage of my career." The world inside that door was full of ups and downs. As I mentioned, finding time to study while working a full-time job was not easy. I remember so many days when I carried my textbook and electronic dictionary everywhere, so I could study on the train, during lunch time, and even when cooking for my family. While I recall these memories fondly now, at that time, of course, I felt like crying.

I can still remember the shockwave I felt when I took my first class, Legal Research and Writing. Unlike in the familiar Japanese-style class, we were immediately required to actively speak up, which took courage for a typical shy Japanese student like me and many of my classmates. Although we may have taken a while, most of us not only got used to this style, but grew to enjoy it. Despite our initial hesitation, we learned that the experience of actively listening, thinking, questioning, and presenting our own thoughts during class would give us a chance not only to learn what we really needed to know, but also —through discussion with our professors and classmates— to think broadly and deeply. For me, this experience, which I could not have acquired unless I had entered TUJ, has become a great asset upon which to draw, especially when I am working with my colleagues or discussing issues with my clients.

My greatest difficulty came in 2012 when I had to take a one-year leave from school for pregnancy and childcare. Although that experience was the most wonderful in my life, it did become a hurdle in continuing my studies. When I started to consider returning to school, I did not have confidence in my ability to wear three hats, studying, working, and taking care of my 6-month-old daughter. When I finally made up my mind to return, the strongest driving force was that I did not want to use my daughter as an excuse for giving up something which I had been putting so much energy and effort in. But could I really do it? Of course I could! I thought of my fellow classmates who were working energetically while being good mothers at home and who, surprisingly, were always among the most active participants at school. Their positive attitude gave me the courage to face this big challenge, and led me, as I am sure it did others too, to this stage today.

Again, and above all, on behalf of all of us graduating, I want to say a very big thank you to our families, friends, colleagues, and everyone who has stood beside us during the years of study, some who are with us now, and others who could not join us today. The goal we have achieved today is not only our personal achievement; it is something we must share with those who have supported us, probably with great patience and much sacrifice.

I personally would like to share this achievement with my husband Naohide who has always been supporting me, taking care of our daughter, Sae, to let me make time to study, and always encouraging me when I felt discouraged. Without his help, I would never have been able to reach this goal.

Now, once again, we are standing in front of a door, pausing first to say goodbye to our fruitful days at TUJ, while carrying through that door everything we earned and learned from the experience there —knowledge of U.S. law, personal connections with fellow students, the ability to listen carefully to others and to actively and independently think, question and discuss, and the courage to confront a big challenge in times of difficulty and stress.

We do not know what the world on the other side of the door will be like, but one thing we know for sure. We have gotten over so many difficulties already, as our big achievement here today testifies, so no matter what is waiting for us through the door, we can deal with it.

Congratulations to all, and thank you so much.

篠原 朝子

篠原 朝子







篠原 朝子


私が初めて「Legal Research and Writing(法務調査とライティング)」の授業を取った時の衝撃は今でも忘れられません。それまで慣れ親しんだ日本式の授業と違って、私たちはすぐに活発に発言することを求められました。これは私や多くのクラスメートのような典型的恥ずかしがり屋の日本人学生には勇気が要ることでした。時間はかかりましたが、大部分の学生はこのスタイルに慣れただけでなく、それを楽しめるまでに成長しました。最初のためらいにも関わらず、授業で積極的に聴き、考え、質問し、自分の考えを発表する経験が、私たちが本当に知識をつけなければならないことを学ぶだけでなく、教授陣やクラスメートたちとのディスカッションを通じて広く深く考える機会を与えてくれることを学びました。私にとって、この経験はTUJに来なければ得られなかった大きな財産として、とりわけ同僚と仕事をするときやクライアントと打ち合わせをするときに大いに役立っています。



私自身はこの成果を、いつも私を支え、勉強の時間を確保するために娘 紗瑛の面倒を見、私が自信をなくしているといつも励ましてくれた夫 直秀と分かち合いたいと思います。彼の助けなしには、このゴールには到達しえなかったでしょう。