At FEW’s monthly meeting in April, we heard from two dynamic women working in law in Tokyo: Naoko Matsuzaki, Director, International Anti-Corruption and Global Intelligence for PwC Japan’s Forensic Services Group, and Catherine O’Connell, Founder and Principal of Catherine O’Connell Law and the first foreign female to set up as a sole legal practitioner in Japan.
The evening opened with a pop quiz, and we invited participants to guess how many lawyers there are in Japan, and how many of those are female. As many of us imagined, the numbers are startlingly low, and as Catherine pointed out, the reality is that Japan is traditionally not a country where people sue each other rather, resolving disputes amicably outside of court and Naoko remarked the situation was such that law schools are closing down here.
Naoko lived in the U.S. as a young child, then returned to Japan and graduated from university here before starting work for Japanese industrial companies in their legal departments. As a fresh, new 22-year-old, she found herself working on anti-dumping issues, and having to explain to the U.S. Department of Commerce how the companies worked. She quickly found that the high marks she’d got in written exams in English in the Japanese system weren’t going to help her much, and she actually took a professional simultaneous interpretation course to develop her spoken English skills. As Catherine said, being able to present an argument clearly and concisely is so important as a lawyer.
Being confident when standing up in front of a judge to defend a client is a skill that Catherine says is learned, and she explained tricks to us such as how to hold onto the edge of a desk when talking to appear calm and collected, and to stop your hands from waving all over the place. Catherine didn’t start out in a law. Her first career was as a was a tour guide for JTB in New Zealand for two years before inspiration from her Japanese tourist clients questioning her about law and business in New Zealand, drove her to decide to return to university to study law to train to be a lawyer. She worked for seven years at a law firm in New Zealand, and eventually with her strong Japanese skills and a solid base in commercial and business law, she was hired for a post in Japan in 2002, and has based herself here since.
In their discussion about the ‘Me Too’ movement, and whether there’s any discrimination against female legal practitioners in Japan, Naoko pointed out that one good thing about law is that people are treated equally. It’s not really about being male or female, but it’s about being logical, she said. Skills such as communicating logically and articulating your views clearly are needed for the legal profession and are learned skills, according to Catherine.
After discussing how they developed their careers and some of the skills needed for lawyering, Catherine and Naoko gave us some insights into the broader issues for women in law in Japan. When it comes to speaking up again harassment issues, or even any kind of wrongdoing in a company, Catherine said that it’s incumbent on us all to speak up and to have a voice. The important of keeping evidence, to be able to document everything and support what you want to say, even if it’s just a voice message or an SMS, is something that they both stressed as well.
May 2018 Strategic Partner Member Offers and Other News
Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also provide professional and personal services […]Published on 2nd May 2018
Special Event Recap: Japanese Business Etiquette Workshop with WaNavi Japan
FEW’s latest Strategic Partner WaNavi Japan hosted a workshop on Japanese Business Etiquette in the evening of April 4 at the Wesley Center in Omotesando, providing insights in Japanese culture and business culture in particular, as well as practical phrases commonly used at the workplace making communication with Japanese co-workers smoothly. Motoko Kimura, Founder and […]Published on 2nd May 2018
March 2018 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Online Presence Part II- Social Media
On March 22, The FEW Women’s Start-up Club held its fourth meeting of the FEW year on the topic of “Online Presence Part 2 – Social Media,” in a hands on social media workshop style event. And hands-on it was indeed – and not only related to social media! Those who attended may remember the police invasion! […]Published on 2nd May 2018
Strategic Partner Spotlight: Lumina Learning Japan Partner, Elizabeth Handover
Lumina Learning is a global learning and development company representing the latest innovation in professional development and assessment. As a pioneer in organizational development with over 3,500 certified trainers globally, we offer services in 30 languages. Lumina Spark is our flagship psychometric tool. The key to every organization’s success is its people. This philosophy underpins our partnerships […]Published on 2nd May 2018
May 2018 Women's Start-Up Club: The Importance of Cyber Security to Entrepreneurs
The next WSC meeting will focus on Cyber Security, with Nicola Vote of McAfee shedding light on how entrepreneurs can protect their customers and also protect their reputation and business online.
May Midweek Lunch Mixer at Citron
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering. In May, we'll be meeting again at Parisian-style salad bar, Citron, in Gaienmae!
FEW 20th Career Strategies Seminar (CSS): AMPLIFY!
Join us on June 2 for AMPLIFY, a transformational and inspirational day-long event full of seminars, workshops and networking opportunities to help you elevate your career to new heights.
Save the Date: June 2018 Monthly Meeting
Save the Date for our June Monthly Meeting on June 14, 2018! FEW Meetings are great opportunities to connect, learn and have fun! Speaker and topic details coming soon.
FULLY BOOKED! Radical Boundaries Workshop with Sarah Furuya: How to Say No to Make Way for YES
Due to its high popularity, we are offering the Radical Boundaries Workshop again. Join us for an exclusive workshop with Sarah Furuya on developing techniques to say 'no' in order to devote your time and attention to the things and people you truly love.