Q&A with Monika Oyama
August 16, 2012
Monika Oyama '13 spent the summer of 2012 as a summer associate at the Tokyo office of White & Case. She shares her perspective on the experience here.
How was your internship structured?
For 8 weeks I worked in the Tokyo office of White & Case. I worked mainly with the M&A group, capital markets group, and the litigation group. White & Case Tokyo is comprised of both foreign attorneys (attorneys qualified in a country other than Japan) and bengoshis (Japan-qualified attorneys). I was hired as a summer associate for the foreign side, but once people learned that I was fully bilingual in both Japanese and English, work from both the foreign side and Japanese side poured in and I became extremely busy. I was very appreciative for people recognizing my skills.
What kinds of projects did you take on?
Other than the typical summer associate work like document review and revision, the three experiences I enjoyed most this summer were researching and drafting a memorandum regarding representation and warranty, assisting in creation of a feeder fund, and assisting in a client interview in preparation for potential litigation.
Why did you choose to attend law school in the U.S.?
I was born and raised in the U.S. until age 11 and then visited the U.S. every summer since I moved to Japan. I wanted to do something international, making use of my linguistic skills and multicultural background. I attended Keio University in Japan and was torn about whether to attend law school in Japan or the U.S. I chose to attend law school in the U.S. to differentiate myself from other Japanese attorneys, to study law in the country which Japan had a lot of influence from in forming its laws, and because the strengths of Penn State Law were the areas of law I was very interested in: business law and intellectual property law.
Before law school I had been concerned about whether I’d be able to find employment with a university degree from Japan and an American law degree. However, that fear has been unfounded. Of the three law firms I worked for during the past two summers—Baker & McKenzie, Allen & Overy, and White & Case—I was fortunate to be hired as the first summer associate they had in years. Ultimately, I think my background made me stand out and differentiated me from other candidates because it is very rare for someone who went to a university in Japan to enroll in a J.D. program in the U.S.
What is your dream job?
My dream is to work in the U.S., doing similar corporate work as my past two summers.