I volunteered several times unsuccessfully for a secondment to a Japanese trading company. As a consolation prize, my law firm offered me the chance to work at its new Tokyo office for four months. After I arrived at Narita International Airport, the bus came out of the highway tunnel in Kasumigaseki just in front of a giant bulldozer on top of an office building — cool! And here I am still, decades later.
When our daughters were born, I closed the announcement with “I hope that they grow up to be honest.” Integrity is clearly at the top; it is critically important to be trustworthy. I also sometimes say, only half jokingly, “paying customers first” — as a lawyer, client interests are paramount. Keep the customer satisfied.
I have started offices for another global law firm in two countries (Vietnam and Singapore), I have been on the boards of American Chambers of Commerce in three countries (Japan, Singapore and Vietnam), a chairman in Ho Chi Minh Cityand I have handled innovative deals that others said couldn’t be done in the time available.
I want to continue to build my corporate and energy practice at K&L Gates and send our daughters to very good colleges or universities. I wish there were more time for hiking and family travel.
Study kanji early and intensively. The more you can read and write Japanese, the easier your life and the better your job opportunities will be. That having been said, don’t be afraid to be different. As long as you are fundamentally polite by your home country’s standards, you will be accepted. The points of difference will generally be taken as positive points of interest and you will help to enrich Japan. And lest I forget, be sure that your company has experienced and competent external counsel.