Penn State Law student Monika Oyama, summer associate at White & Case

Third-year Penn State Law student Monika Oyama 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 eight weeks I worked in the Tokyo office of White & Case. I worked mainly with the mergers and acquisitions (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.

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 frequently asked questions 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 juris doctor 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.

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Last Updated September 18, 2012