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Eric W. Sedlak

Corporate and Energy Partner
K&L Gates LLP, K&L Gates Joint Law Enterprise
Vice President
American Chamber of Commerce in Japan

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 25 (as of December 2019)

Eric W. Sedlak
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

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.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

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.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

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.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

 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.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

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.

Last updated: Dec 16, 2019