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Q&A with Monika Oyama

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. Monika Oyama spent the summer working at White & Case in Tokyo.

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.

What did those projects involve?
I prepared a memorandum regarding representation and warranty in M&A transactions and how Japanese companies planning to acquire companies in Europe could use the product. A lawyer was planning to use the memorandum for business and educational purposes. In preparing the memorandum, I extracted information from emails exchanged between the firm and an insurance broker, summarized information in an FAQ the firm had prepared for a client, and conducted background research by reading articles. It was my first time learning about such an M&A insurance product and, as someone interested in practicing M&A, it was a very good learning opportunity.
In helping create the feeder fund, I was responsible for matching the commercial terms of the Feeder Fund Private Placement Memo (PPM) to the Master Fund PPM and incorporating comments of the client and a Cayman counsel in the Agreement. I had no idea what a fund was and how it worked, so this also was a good experience and I got to learn on a hands-on basis.
I also had an exciting experience in attending a client interview at the client’s office with one other lawyer in preparation for potential litigation. I was responsible for taking notes and then preparing a memorandum so other lawyers that did not attend the meeting could understand the content of the meeting and the information we obtained. I was thrilled because, despite the fact that I was only a summer associate, the lawyer allowed me to join the interview and meet the client, who was someone way up in the pyramid in a major international corporation. The intense and serious atmosphere was very different from the other types of work I did and was thus exciting. It was also a good opportunity for me to learn how lawyers interact with clients.

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.

More Summer Work

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