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FAQ


FAQ


The following section lists questions that our entry-level recruits most frequently ask about life and work at SHUSAKU·YAMAMOTO.


I don't have a law degree, can I apply to work at SHUSAKU·YAMAMOTO?

Absolutely. 78% of our foreign hires do not have law degrees or legal backgrounds. No matter what is your university major, when you join us, you'll play an important part in our success by sharing your knowledge and skills as well as applying them.

We hire non-law graduates to join our paralegal, administrative, compliance, accounting, and technology practice teams. We take pride on being direct, plainspoken, supportive and dynamic. We welcome people who can embrace our culture and values and start their career at the cutting edge of professional services.

We provide entry level graduates with a diverse and dynamic environment in which to flourish. We will also reward you with the challenges and opportunities to achieve our vision of becoming one of the leading innovation law firms in the world.

Why should I apply to work at SHUSAKU·YAMAMOTO?

We are an established, leading and highly acclaimed intellectual property, regulatory, technology, commercial and dispute resolution law firm. Every foreign Talent that joins us, benefit from the unique chance to experience some of the highest caliber patent, trademark, IP, regulatory, technology, commercial and dispute resolution work available on the planet.

We offer a close-knit, challenging and highly collaborative work environment. Our fresh graduate talent receive early responsibility and an opportunity to make a real contribution to the matters on which they are working. Few outside the Firm can have the same level of greatness thrust upon them so early in their careers.

Is a job in a law firm really worth it?

It is important to divorce fantasy from reality. The legal profession has been overly glamorized through compelling television, thrilling books, blockbuster movies and entertaining popular culture; when in actual fact the practice of law is simply and non-romantically hard graft of a very specialized sort. Many entry level graduates don't know how tough it is to make a living in the law, how deeply competitive it really is and the toll the practice can take on work/life balance.

However if you like to be generously paid to read, write, think, talk and persuade others, there is no other profession quite like the law. Even if you do not become a qualified lawyer, working here provides an excellent immersion and cultivation of the crucial transferable lifelong career and life skills:

a. Ability to rigorously analyze facts/problem solving skills
b. Ability to work in teams or groups
c. Ability to be a self-starter
d. Risk analysis and management – analysis and management of risk involved in transactions, strategies, policies and procedures.
e. Counseling, listening skills, ability to empathize
f. Familiarity with legal terminology
g. Knowledge of specific complex topics (corporations, innovation, IT, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, brands, trademarks, designs, litigation)
h. Working under pressure, ability to multi-task, ability to process and comprehend large amounts of information and complex transactions
i. Ability to think independently
j. Ability to negotiate
k. Ability to persuade
l. Ability to prepare effectively
m. Ability to present before a skeptical audience
n. Research skills
o. Sharpening your writing and thinking skills to write persuasively and logically

A quick survey of our alumni Talent will readily confirm that their time at our Firm had not only benefited but also enriched their lives at every level.

Where does SHUSAKU·YAMAMOTO recruit?

Anywhere where there is talent. We hire entry level graduates from the world's leading universities.

We have recruited candidates from Australia, China, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, US, UK, Vietnam and other diverse nations.

I saw your job ad on a website of a university that I am not enrolled at, can I still apply?

Certainly. While our recruitment outreach is fairly extensive, we are unable to advertise at every university that we would like to. So we are heartened that there will be some talent with the drive and enthusiasm to find and reach out to us.

I graduated from a university that is not so famous or well known internationally, will that prejudice my application?

Certainly not. Most of the popular rankings of universities are underpinned by questionable research methodologies and circumspect science and the ranking criteria is largely reputational and anecdotal which is not very helpful.

Our screening criteria focuses on the content and character of the candidates demonstrated by their academic and personal achievements, experience, writing skill and analysis; rather than the "brand" university that they graduated from. In fact, the vast majority of the failed probationers were from these alleged "brand" universities.

I have an Australian university law degree. Can I use the international assistant work experience as the 'legal practice experience' (placement) component to qualify for admission to Australian legal practice?

Yes, the Firm has supported several deserving Australian university law graduates to obtain their admission qualification to Australian legal practice while serving their three year international assistant work contract in Japan.

After the candidate is successfully admitted as an Australian legal practitioner, they will work as a "Foreign Attorney" in the Firm.

I possess an ABA-accredited law school degree. Can I be called to the Bar or admitted as a lawyer while working as an international assistant during the 3 year work contract?

The legal bar admission or legal professional qualification requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction that a law graduate wishes to be admitted to.

If feasible, the Firm will support deserving employee's efforts to attain legal professional admission or qualification by granting paid study leave to take bar exam preparation courses or sitting for the bar examinations. More details are provided when a candidate's application matures to the relevant stage.

Is the Firm on Facebook?

Yes. Our FB page is foremost a celebration of what our Global Talent have been up to when they're working and living in Osaka and our FB page has some common sense rules on engagement to ensure a healthy and productive time.

We'll never judge any application in relation to the candidate's FB activity, however, we request that you visit our career website for complete application process details and the recruitment process will be exclusively done via email, Skype and telephone.

What about Linkedin?

Yes. Our Hiring Director is on Linkedin and it is one other recruitment outreach platform of the Firm. We have successfully scouted entry level talent on the basis of their Linkedin profiles. After establishing email contact, the recruitment process will be exclusively done via email, Skype and telephone.

Why are you hiring overseas recruits?

The lingua franca of contemporary law, science and business is English. Our work is that exciting intersection of these three cutting edge disciplines that underpins the world's modern knowledge based economy. Even though we are headquartered in Osaka Japan, 75% of the Firm's work involves the English language exclusively and our foreign hires are immersed in that work.

That is why we recruit overseas candidates with flawless English writing and spoken skills. We are relentlessly committed to employing a diverse workforce of the best minds in the world because the collaborative energy that is created when talented people from different backgrounds come together to focus on client solutions.

Do you offer an internship or work experience program?

No.

I absolutely love Japanese food and culture - have I found my perfect dream job in Japan?

We've all been seduced by those inspiring posters professing that your perfect job is effortlessly doing what you love every day. Sadly such posters camouflage an inconvenient truth: Work is work, even if you make a living rescuing abandoned pets or reviewing Michelin starred restaurants.

The idea of the "perfect job" is a myth and one's daily work will never have a fairy tale ending where everyone lives happily ever after day after day. In fact, any job, like any worthy endeavor, requires more than a bit of effort but that is how one learns and grows.

What is the Firm's commitment to diversity?

Our clients come to us with their most confoundingly difficult questions. That's what keeps us on top of our game. We know that producing the best client outcomes requires intellectual firepower and different viewpoints. Our clients value the viewpoints that the diversity of our professionals brings to our firm. Our Firm is only as strong as the collection of individuals with different personalities, perspectives, outlooks, backgrounds and experiences.

The diversity of our Talent is therefore fundamental to success. We are dedicated to the cultivation of a culturally rich and diverse community in the firm. Our Firm specifically promotes diversity and inclusion — through recruiting, development and retention and other initiatives — while also continually encoding these principles into the DNA of the firm.

Is the Firm involved in pro bono work?

Yes. We recognize our responsibility to assist in the provision of legal counsel to certain sectors of the community that cannot afford to pay for quality legal and intellectual property advice, so we have rendered pro bono legal counsel to deserving causes.

What are the benefits of working internationally?

• Living and working in another country is a great way of becoming independent. When you are away from your families and friends, you will have no one to depend on but yourself. Being able to live and survive overseas is an achievement that will build up your independence.
• Your perspectives on life and everything will broaden. Travel will expose you to a different culture, different language, and different people. In short a totally new way of living. Deeply experience different cultures from your own.
• Improving your resume as working abroad will give you an edge over other applicants. In this age of globalization, employers prefer applicants that have overseas working experience.
• Build self-confidence, as well as skills such as communication, self reliance, adaptability, cultural awareness and resourcefulness.
• Moving abroad doesn't mean you are cut off from the people and places you have known before, though. One can still keep in close contact with family and friends back home thanks to Skype, e-mail and smartphones.
• For Americans working overseas, there could be tax free income based on foreign earned income ($95,100 for 2012) exclusions where applicable and each country has their own tax incentives or advantages for overseas derived income.
• It is wise to expect the problems and trials you will experience along the way as you struggle in a foreign land. Look at it in a positive light, as it will make you stronger, wiser, and generally a better person.

What are the risks of working internationally?

• Homesickness and sometimes other cultures can be difficult to understand
• You might feel like you don't "fit in"
• You will need to adjust to a different way of doing things
• Your international work experience may not be applicable to your national job market when you return
• You will find it frustrating and alienating as you have to initially depend on others to accomplish tasks that you take for granted back in your home country, e.g., going to the bank, grocery shopping or paying bills.
• If you're moving to a new country, you might not know anyone or even know the native language. It can also be jarring to adjust to a new culture.
• You have to be prepared to go out of your comfort zone and accept that other cultures do things differently. It is not wrong, just different. And if you cannot accept that, you might want to reconsider moving to another country.
• You might get bored or lonely once the novelty of being in a new country has worn off.
• Cultural changes may be overwhelming or your expectations were unrealistic. What may work in your home country, for example may not be acceptable in Japan or anywhere else. It is important to remember that one size does not fit all and subtleties and nuances can't be learnt from some book or the internet.

Do I need to be a native English speaker to succeed in the Firm?

Certainly not. Some of the Firm's best performing Talent were non-native English speakers.

In fact, the majority of the failed probationers were native English speakers. If you are inherently a bad systems engineering graduate, an unobservant molecular biologist, an indifferent humanities graduate, an error-prone law graduate, a sloppy computer scientist or a shoddy theoretical physicist, being a native English speaker will not help you pass probation.

We require someone who possesses an adept ability to scrutinize issues, data and critique publications and situations. Someone who can point out the strengths and weaknesses of a solution or situation, including the use of appropriate analytical tools with data presentation and analysis. You don't need to be a native English speaker to possess those qualities.

Of course, non-native English speakers probably have to put in extra effort to produce consistent English language outcomes that meet our clients' requirements but this is a skill that can be inculcated and perfected with the right motivation and the Firm will provide guidance so you can build a track record that serves you well here or wherever life takes you.

Does it matter if I don't have a law-related degree?

Absolutely not. We acquire talent from all degree disciplines, and we evaluate each application on its own merit. Our central focus is solely on fit, competence, behavior and attitude. Roles in our technology practice teams have a mandatory science or engineering degree requirement - for example, biochemistry, molecular biology, organic chemistry, EE, engineering physics or computer science, and you can learn more about these roles in our Meet our Talent pages.

What is your recruitment calendar and how many staff do you recruit?

Our primary recruitment exercise is in the Fall with a smaller Spring session. However, we welcome open applications all year round. We hire about 8 to 12 new staff (across all teams) annually.

I am currently in Japan, can I visit the Firm to gain a better understanding of the workplace?

Unlike other employers, we are unable to organize an 'open day' for potential applicants to visit the Firm's premises in view of the legally sensitive and confidential nature of the ongoing matters that are handled at the Firm.

In order to be fair to potential applicants (especially those who are not in Japan and therefore unable to easily visit the Firm), we do not offer office visits to all potential applicants.

Nevertheless, we want everyone to gain a better understanding of the Firm, so we warmly encouraged everyone to email their questions and browse through our careers website and read the Meet our Talent section, FAQ, our Facebook and YouTube pages and find out what is it really like to work at our Firm.

Why do I have to sign a confidentiality agreement for the recruitment process?

The confidentiality agreement is to protect the privacy of candidates, and the proprietary and confidential information of the Firm that is shared to candidates during the recruitment process. Confidential information includes matters discovered or discussed during the application process.

Why is my photo (business appropriate headshot) requested during the application process?

We only accept Western style CVs from our foreign applicants.

However in Japan, there is a different standard format for resumes/CVs. It's called a 履歴書 (rirekisho). Rirekisho require, inter alia, your name, nationality, marital status, age, gender, a photo, education history, personal achievements, health condition, motive for applying, hobbies, sports, names of family members (listing those who reside with you), date of birth and must be handwritten.

The Japanese format is not flexible and is mandatory. So our request for a photograph is in keeping with this Japanese employment practice.



Different cultures have different expectations and requirements about resumes. In some other countries, some of the particulars required by a rirekisho are not requested so we understand if you do not wish to proffer a photo when requested. Nevertheless, please be assured that non-submission of a photograph will not adversely impact the merits examination of your application.

Why do you need to conduct of conflict of interests checks of prospective recruits?

The Firm has an ethical duty to avoid a conflict of interest (COI) with interests of its clients and the Firm. The purpose of this COI policy is to protect the interests of the Firm's clients and the Firm and to avoid or eliminate potential or actual conflicts of interest.

Everyone in the Firm has a duty to avoid business, financial or other interests or relationships that conflict with the interests of the Firm's clients and the Firm and or that divide the employee's loyalty to the Firm's clients and the Firm. The following is a non-exhaustive list of potential conflicts of interest:

An employee or his or her family member has an ownership or an interest in a competitor of, or is in adverse proceeding or situation against the Firm's clients.

Providing a service to a competitor, a proposed or present supplier or customer of the Firm's clients and the Firm.

An employee or his or her family member has a financial interest that conflicts with the interests of the Firm and the Firm's clients in any manner.

We have to ensure compliance with applicable ethical regulations pertaining to conflict of interest and ensure that conflicts of interest are avoided.

What sort of writing sample should I submit if requested?

The writing sample can be on any topic. Prior to submission, proofread your sample for spelling, typographical, or grammar errors. It must be a piece that you feel is well-written and is reflective of the style of writing that would impress us. The writing style must be concise, coherent and easy to read and understand without any prior specialized knowledge.

What are the evaluation criteria of the note and essay assignments?

The applicant must be mindful of the following:

Clarity, brevity and certainty;
Originality;
Understanding of the topic;
Proper and appropriate usage;
Relevance of material and arguments discussed;
Logical coherence;
Critical appraisal or exposition;
Planning and organization;
Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

What are the main reasons why my note/essay were unsuccessful?

Irrelevant material presented;
Title of essay/note not adhered to;
Work shows lack of understanding of topic;
Illogical effort without structure;
Poor writing style;
Plagiarism, including self-plagiarism or text-recycling;
Work shows weak understanding of topic;
Incomplete work;
Non-compliance with word count or time limit;
Unoriginal work or evidence of copying or cut/paste;
Incorrect spelling, wrong grammar and poor punctuation.

What does the Firm look for in a successful essay/writing assignment?

The essay/writing assignment is an important component of the application process. It must be distinct, original (no cut/paste from online sources) and unique to the applicant. We are looking for clarity, brevity and certainty. Your essay must be spell checked, proof-read and comply with rules of good writing, punctuation and grammar prior to submission. It will go a long way if you can also show your intellectual vitality.

What are the common reasons why my patent writing assignment was not satisfactory?

• Incorrect analysis
• Wrong characterization
• Oversimplification or superficiality of review
• Irrelevant or unrelated discussion
• Faulty reasoning
• Improper or inaccurate word/phrase choice
• Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes
• Failure to proofread
• Non-compliance with conditions like word count, deadline, etc.

The assignment should possess a clear, unambiguous and concise style, with coherent and well organized ideas, with its well supported and defined conclusions.

What is the privacy policy governing my application?

When processing job applications, we handle all personal information in accordance with all relevant and applicable Japanese laws and regulations relating to the protection of personal information including the Personal Information Protection Law (Law No. 57 of 2003).

We will not disclose your information to any third-party whatsoever without your prior consent but this excludes the appropriate cases such as the disclosure demanded by Japanese legal authority or order of court and other provisions of the applicable law.

My previous application was unsuccessful, can I reapply?

Certainly. Although we admire perseverance in a candidate, you need to consider what has changed or what is different from your first application so as to better ensure that the second time's a charm.

Is legal experience necessary?

No. We will train the incoming recruit to attain the requisite skills to perform the work duties under appropriate supervision.

Don't I need to learn Japanese?

No. There is no need for our foreign staff to have any Japanese proficiency to carry out their work duties and our Firm has bilingual Japanese staff to assist with language issues where appropriate.

Nevertheless we understand that some will experience some adjustment discomfort from having led very independent and carefree lives prior to moving to Japan and initially upon arrival, almost depending on others for the smallest of things.

Admittedly one's daily living activities outside work could be smoother with some Japanese speaking ability. Rest assured that the Firm does provide some support with complex domestic transactions like providing information to English speaking doctors and clinics.

Experience has also shown that most of our foreign staff have had vibrant wonderful lives in Osaka with nothing more than a few choice Japanese words and phrases.

Can I receive help in obtaining a Japan work visa?

All foreign nationals will require a visa to undertake work in Japan. We will assist individuals requiring a visa, prior to the start of their employment, providing guidance on the application process at the appropriate time. Employment at the Firm is wholly contingent on the issuance of the visa by the Government of Japan.

Why doesn't the Firm provide Japanese language courses?

Learning a language properly is full time commitment and one is better off to enroll in a Japanese language school as a full time student. We do not stop recruits who wish to learn Japanese on their own account and time but experience has shown that after all the work and the plentiful pleasure and leisure distractions, there is hardly any time nor incentive.

How can I afford to live in Osaka - one the world's most expensive cities?

As part of the overall package, the Firm provides a housing allowance in addition to the monthly wage and we also assist in securing accommodation for the probationary recruit. More details will be shared at the appropriate stage during the recruitment process.

What is the Firm's housing arrangements for newly arriving recruits like?

Stress-free. It is in everyone's interest that our new recruit settles in comfortably and quickly and our relocation and initial housing program is geared to eliminate most, if not all, of the complication and stress associated with relocation to an overseas workplace.

We make complete arrangements for the probation period housing and the recruit simply shows up and moves into the apartment after flying into Japan. The apartment has high speed internet access (password and ID provided on move-in day). The recruit should bring their laptop and just plug in and go.

The apartment is fully furnished with two electric stoves, kitchenette, toilet, shower/bath tub, hot/cold water, air-conditioner/heater, washing machine, walk-in closet & storage space, microwave oven, table/chair & TV, bed, lighting fixtures.

The floorplan and photos of the apartment are:




The apartment is roughly the size of a typical university dormitory room, 23.18 sqm or 250 sqf. It will fit a single person comfortably and have broadband internet access (no download limit) and fully furnished except bedding.

The recruit can move out of the firm housing at the appropriate time and still receive the monthly housing allowance, which will pay a sizable portion of the rent of the new apartment. Wikipedia notes that the average size of a Japanese apartment home is 122 sqm and according to a BBC 8/15/2009 report, the UK builds the smallest homes in Europe. Japanese apartment homes are only slightly smaller than Denmark's but bigger than France and UK.

What about Internet access in the Firm's housing?

The apartment has high speed Internet access and the Firm will provide the login ID and password on the date of moving into the apartment.

What is the primary quality to have during the application process?

Critical thinking. In an age of instant information overload and free wheeling social media, where anything that is cool or shocking is amplified or astroturfed on the internet, nothing's more important than critical thinking. Believing anything posted by anonymous disgruntled axe-grinders or trolls is not critical thinking.

Critically question everything - including us. This one quality is crucial to have in your professional career whether you join us or not. Our hope is that you read the verified career information of the Firm and decide for yourself.

How long is the application process?

We proceed relatively quickly generally and it should last no longer than 1 month from initial communication. We do set deadlines for candidates to comply in terms of writing assignments or documentation requests. There is an intense amount of preliminary screening and vetting because of the confidential and sensitive nature of legal work in general.

We are a law firm that is ethically bound by attorney-client privilege and confidentiality and we cannot hire anyone who is related to a client or a competitor of the clients so we have to conduct conflicts of interest checks on all candidates. Candidates unwilling to comply with such checks should seriously reconsider their application.

I just completed my Final Telephone Interview, how long should I wait for the outcome?

We normally issue the outcome within 24 hours after the completion of the Final Telephone Interview but definitely within 72 hours after we've spoken. In the extremely unlikely event that you've not heard from us in 72 hours, please check your spam filter or email settings.

What are the most common reasons for an unsuccessful Final Telephone Interview?

• Long-winded answers. You must get to the point within 5 words of your answer
• Lack of professional tone, inappropriate attitude or lack of basic phone etiquette
• Non-responsive, disorganized or incoherent answers
• Easily flustered or argumentative answers
• Lack of composure or absence of enthusiasm
• Background noise - make sure that you are in a quiet room without any distractions
• Lack of preparation. Failure to research about Firm, its practice and history

What are the odds?

Our recruitment is extremely competitive and we are very selective. Here are the statistics from our 2016 recruitment year:

1 out of every 59 applications make it past the first screening.
1 out of every 97 applications make it to the Shortlisting Telephone Interview.
1 out of every 163 applications receive an offer from us.

Why can't I speak with any of the current employees during the application process?

For a variety of reasons, including client confidentiality and privacy, we are not able to permit any contact or discussion with our current employees. However, you are strongly encouraged to read the Meet our Talent section of our Careers webpages and our Facebook page and find out what is it really like to work at our Firm.

How is the applicant evaluated during the application process?

An applicant is evaluated based upon whether or not he/she is suitable for the Firm culture on the assumption that the individual has high potential for future performance.

What are the most important traits does the Firm look for in an applicant?

The following is a non-exhaustive list:

• Passion
• Fit & Competence
• Intellectual humility
• Internationally minded
• Commitment & loyalty
• Critical thinking with excellent problem-solving skills
• Concise writing and verbal skills
• Eager and high energy level
• Able to understand and exercise prudent judgment
• Harmonious, flexible and adaptable team player who can build strong relationships
• Pragmatic & commercial awareness
• Integrity & Honesty
• Mature & Persistent
• Well-mannered and positive attitude
• Wealth of general and specific knowledge and plain common sense
• Willing to accept responsibility
• Able to handle stress
• Able to work without undue supervision

What are the most common reasons why an application was unsuccessful during the screening stages?

• Errors during the application process
• Competition is extremely high and candidates with skillsets that are more closely matched with the Firm's needs are shortlisted
• Weak or poor marks, grades or GPA
• Widely inconsistent grades or marks, retakes or academic probation
• A preponderance of courses or subjects that are neither challenging nor rigorous
• No extra-curricular activities of any substance or responsibility
• Poor understanding of the position applied for
• No evidence of commercial awareness
• Lack of awareness of past milestones of the firm
• No quantitative information or data to substantiate claims made in application
• Egregious spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors
• Cut and paste mistakes like showing another employer's name
• Lack of awareness of key practice areas of the firm

Can I request feedback if my application was unsuccessful?

We are humbled to receive an overwhelming number of applications, but unfortunately, we are unable to provide feedback in view of this fact. We hope that our website, hints and tips, FAQ and our Facebook page will provide you with additional support and guidance.

What is the Firm Tryout ?

The Firm Tryout is exactly what it sounds like, a tryout. After an initial set of training sessions and briefings, the candidates will be tasked to work on projects with the various teams at the Firm for a period of time not exceeding five days. The work will be supervised and evaluated. If the applicant's tryout meets or exceeds expectations, it will greatly enhance the hiring chances of the applicant. During the Firm Tryout, the candidate will be paid a daily stipend.

What's the Firm Tryout program like ?

We will provide thorough briefing and training sessions so that the candidates can hit the ground running as we want to see how productive they really are. We've lined up a series of work projects that will demonstrate the competencies and how they can align and whether they are a culture fit with our Firm. It's real work and is almost identical with what the person would be doing if we hired them.

Who is eligible for the Firm Tryout ?

Japan-based applicants. In some instances, overseas-based candidates may be eligible for the Firm Tryout (subject to applicable conditions).

Why do you have the Firm Tryout ?

From experience with applicants who're already living or working in Japan, it has proved very hard to tell from the interview and application process what someone is really like or how good he or she is at the job. And it's equally hard for an applicant to tell what it's really like to work with us. We have an excellent and unique work culture and we're looking for people who want to excel throughout their 3 year engagement with us.

Can I decline the Firm Tryout ?

For applicants who decline the Firm Tryout, their application is unlikely to be successful.

Is there anything that the successful hire has to do in preparation prior to commencing work in Osaka ?

The Firm has a structured and comprehensive pre-work start preparation program for new hires where they have to review and master a reading list of about 20 to 30 reading materials prior to commencing work in Osaka.

The materials are divided into 2 broad categories.

The first category will include information and details about living in Osaka, culture shock and adaptation to living and working in Japan, information and explanation about the Firm's work regulations, code of conduct, dress code and other day-to-day operations and operational guidelines of the Firm.

The second category will include background study materials and introductory information regarding the substantive aspects of the patent, intellectual property and legal work that the recruit will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

The purpose of the reading materials is to equip the newly arriving graduate recruit with the appropriate level of background knowledge and introductory information so that the transition to work and life in Osaka is as seamless as possible.

What type of in-house training do you provide ?

Training at our Firm is conducted both formally and informally. Training is conducted by senior attorneys, experienced mentors, seniors and outside experts. Some lessons cover basic subjects that are important to new employees, while other lessons provide detailed instruction in specific areas of the Firm's practice and work.

The training varies in duration and content and has been designed to provide you with the skills, practice norms and attitude you require to become a well-rounded and positive staff member. Further information about the training and development programs will be provided to our shortlisted candidates.

The Firm undertakes the education and training to help the recruit bridge the (experience, skills, and education) gap between the recruit's academic career and the new professional one. It is necessary to engage in additional training and experience before one can attain the foundational skills to thrive in the intellectual property field.

In order for the candidates to successfully perform their duties, there is a requisite period of training and learning where the recruit will have to learn/use the legal/IP vocabulary in preparation of analysis, client correspondence and legal/IP submissions which are markedly different in terms of form, substance and style from academic writing or topics which you are certainly adept in.

Training is carried out on the job. All probationers work directly under the supervising attorney, team leaders, mentors or senior staff who are responsible for both assigning the workload and providing the instruction and guidance required for doing it.

There is a six month probation period during which the candidate is on full salary and benefits. However even after confirmation, the candidate is unlikely to be a finished article but rather a promising work in progress.

What is the mentoring system for probationers?

The senior staff in charge of training is the probationer's mentor. The mentor will teach the recruit how to perform the job and what the job duties are. The mentor has already excelled at probationer's job work duties so she/he already has an intimate understanding of the challenges and responsibilities the probationer will face in completing the job. The mentor will:

  • Coach the recruit in enhancing work skills and knowledge development
  • Pass along organizational norms (structure, politics, personalities)
  • Provide candid feedback about strengths and needed improvements
  • Advise on how to deal with commonly occurring questions and situations

The mentor trains the probationer but will recede to the background so that eventually, the probationer can do the job independently without guidance, encouragement and supervision. The mentor will demonstrate the understanding of the company's quality standards and expectations that the probationer will have to reach during training to ensure confirmation.

Why is there a probationary period?

The raison d'être of probation is to allow the Firm to evaluate a new recruit's performance before granting permanent status.

We have a six month probation period (extendable to nine) for all incoming recruits.

Usually, it will take the recruit at least 3 to 6 months to attain the basic level of knowledge and work independently and positively contribute to the team.

The Firm undertakes the education and training to help the recruit bridge the experience, skills, and work knowledge gap between the recruit's academic career and the new professional one. It is necessary to engage in additional training and experience before one can attain the foundational skills to thrive in the IP field.

While on probation, the Firm undertakes sizable risk and exposure on an unknown and untested recruit. We pay the recruit full salary, benefits and housing allowance while the recruit is learning even when there is no guarantee of success or return on its outlay and investment.

What is the probationary period like?

While on probation, the probationer's on-the-job training is mentored by the Team Leader and senior staff on a daily basis where they provide training, guidance and advice in management of work load, assistance in prioritization of docketed work items, administrative correspondence to be drafted, proofed, verified and reported to the client and determination of proper channels of communication.

The primary mode of instruction will be the case method system where the probationer will learn by review/study study of a precedent case history analysis of the case, and development of a strategy and action plan from the point of view of the decision-maker in the case. The probationer is expected to:

· acquire new knowledge, and learn about skills and attitudes demonstrated by the decision-maker in the precedent case file,
· reflect on the applicability of their own knowledge, skills and attitudes or values, and
· learn the art of listening from the Leader or senior staff member mentoring the probationer, convincing others and social interaction in a team/function setting.

Naturally, the probationary employee's day-to-day interactions with the senior management, team leaders, staff members and co-workers are part and parcel of the feedback process to see if the probationary employee is a good fit for the Firm and vice versa.

These are the main inputs of both probationary and confirmed employee evaluation.

In addition, for confirmed employees, performance evaluations of associates are based on many factors, primary among them is product quality and efficient utilization of resources. Performance evaluations based on the same criteria and it is our belief that individualized day-to-day guidance provides better feedback.

It is timely to remember the Japanese proverb:

石の上にも三年 ishi no ue ni mo san nen

"Sit patiently for three years even on a rock"



The meaning is that perseverance will win through any difficulty, for even a cold stone will get warm if you sit on it a long time. You must not expect your undertakings to succeed immediately. The probationary period is not three years long but one is learning about a new profession, not a job.

Even though there is a six month probation period (which is candidate is on full salary and benefits), after confirmation, the candidate is unlikely to be a finished article but rather a promising work in progress.

What is the probation success rate?

In 2016, the probation pass rate was 89.8%, so only 11.2% of probationers failed within 9 months from date of hire. Our historical probation confirmation rate average was 76.5%.

According to a 2014 FORBES report, 46% of new hires in the United States failed within 18 months from hire. This failure rate is almost triple that of our Firm's probation failure rate.

How will my work be evaluated?

There is a formal, documented and transparent performance evaluation for all probationary employees for confirmation purposes. Candidates are evaluated based on the following 12 criteria:

Substantive Patent/IP KnowledgeJudgment
Research and AnalysisAdaptability/Flexibility
Written Communication SkillsInterpersonal Skills at Work
Oral Communication/ListeningTeamwork & Cooperation
DependabilityLearning/Development
Imagination, Creativity InitiativeProductivity

Probationary employees are given a clear understanding of expectations for their work and what it takes to pass probation. They will be context, which includes an understanding of where they fit into the Firm and how they contribute to the overall success of the Firm and its clients.

Our performance evaluations are designed to identify gaps in probationary employee's skillsets and the Firm will offer remedies and solutions. We will also highlight the probationer's strengths and outline how they can attain a high level of performance. We will actively engage the probationary employee by consistent feedback, mentoring and coaching.

The end result is that probationary employees will have a clear insight into the skills they need to develop in order to pass probation and also blossom in their professional career at the Firm.

The complete Performance Evaluation process will be explained to new recruits.

After successful probation, what is the general workday like?

It begins with dealing with incoming morning correspondence (this would be from clients/associates asking questions (newly arising matter or existing matter) and the staff will have to analyze the correspondence with the file, plan a proposed response, discuss with attorney or senior staff member the proposed response, draft the said response for review and approval.

Daily docketed work. These are the scheduled tasks where there could be an outstanding matter to be completed which includes, reviewing a patent office communication, reviewing the file history, related case histories, preparing the relevant draft client report/communication, proposing the next course of action. Discussing the proposed client report/communication with attorney or senior staff member, draft communication to client for review and approval by attorney or senior staff member.

The candidate will essentially be (1) reviewing the case history and file, (2) identifying issues in a concise, logically structured & clearly presented written analysis for discussion internally with the senior staff until a consensus is reached and the proposal is given to the client for their consideration and response.

The recruit must delight in reading, enjoy writing and be unintimidated by the challenges of convincing a skeptical audience that a particular conclusion is valid in view of available or limited facts in the case file.

After the candidate has more experience and demonstrated achievement, they will work on additional special projects that include invalidation opinions, freedom to operate opinions, infringement, patent litigation and licensing.

What is the atmosphere of the firm on a day-to-day basis?

On a day-today basis, our team culture is supportive, gracious, encouraging and cooperative. We have a challenging, formidable and captivating work environment. While we are serious when we need to be we definitely know how to seriously enjoy ourselves when we must.

We treasure our team-oriented work environment, which encourages professional development, good co-worker relationships, and affirming client relations. Our firm's vibrant and go-getting atmosphere, coupled with a high level of professionalism, seeds an environment that celebrates camaraderie, accomplishment, learning and all-rounded satisfaction.

What is the Firm's dress code?

The dress code is standard, classic business formal attire when attending client meetings or any designated occasion, otherwise it is smart business casual.

Our Firm's dress code policy allows you to feel comfortable at work yet it always reflects the timeless professionalism for which the Firm is known. You will have the opportunity to learn more about the Firm's dress code policy as you progress through the application process.

What is the Firm's grooming policy?

Everyone is expected to project a mannerly, refined and professional image.

Employees must keep their hair neat, clean and well groomed. Hair shall not extend below the bottom of the collar for male employees. All male staff are expected to be clean shaven. Hair color of all employees shall be of a natural shade such as brown, black or blonde and may not be an unnatural shade such as purple, pink, green, blue or other similar unnatural colors. Faddish hairstyles and outrageous multicolored hair are not authorized. Haircuts and styles shall present a balanced appearance. Lopsided and extremely asymmetrical styles are not authorized.

Visible tattoos, piercings on any part of the face (except earrings) or body are prohibited. Jewelry, spacers, retainers, or plugs are not permitted in any body piercing, including non-visible piercings, while working.

You will have the opportunity learn more about our grooming policy as you progress through the application process.

What can you tell me about the prevailing management style?

We have an open and diverse style for a Japanese firm as we realize that there is strength in diversity. We have a merit-based compensation system and our star performers can certainly enjoy the benefits of attractive compensation.

We cherish loyalty and fidelity however we eschew the debilitating effects of groupism. We facilitate the constructive discussion of pragmatic ideas but once a decision is reached, the debating stops and execution is paramount.

Even though our firm's clients work is frequently intense, hard-charging and demanding, that is not reflected in our management style.

What would be a surprising but positive thing the new recruit could do in first 90 days?

The level of independence and responsibility that the recruit will be given once they demonstrate that they are able to get it and handle it. Everyone that we hire has the potential to be a world-beating talent and our successful alumni have amply demonstrated that in their post-SY careers.

Every candidate that we hire has the potential to become a team leader and all the team leaders have all risen through the ranks and started off as technology specialists or IP assistants.

All team leaders earned their respect by demonstrating their skills and experience. Still, the oversight is tight and demanded at all levels, from the individual staff, the team leader and senior management and this is crucial to the success of the Firm.

What is the adjustment period going to be like for the first six months?

Getting used to a new job, a new work environment and a new country is not going to be easy but it doesn't have to be particularly difficult either.

Get to know the people that you are working with and the unspoken rules of the place by paying attention to what is going on around you and accepting that it's going to take some time to get used to it all.

The new recruit has to remember that the learning curve and competence component to the work is probably not as challenging as the emotional adaptation to the work environment, the new living circumstances and the Japan way of life outside work.

It is very likely to be an emotional roller-coaster for the first several days, weeks or maybe even months.



However anything good in life is never easy and we are sure that you are made of sterner stuff and you can adapt. One must be mindful of what is to come.

Remember that no amount of organizational hand-holding, orientation or support will assist the recruit's adjustment process if the recruit doesn't have the initiative and self-starting intent to seek feedback, socialize, emulate positive role models and build the nurturing networks necessary to facilitate a speedy adjustment into the Firm and its culture.

How can I ensure a smoother emotional adaptation to my new work and environment?

The following are some tips to ensure a smoother emotional adaptation process at work and environment.

Be friendly to your work colleagues. Any job is better when you are friends with the people that you are working with. You do not have to be a social butterfly but our foreign staff are all within the same mid 20s to early 30s demographic and they all share common interests and fun pursuits.

Stay positive. One of the things that makes it difficult to adjust to a new position is negativity. If you automatically make judgments about things or people at work that you aren't going to like then you're going to find it difficult to have a positive attitude. Stay away from negative influences or self-loathing people who make a toxic work environment. No one likes being with a downer so keep your confidence up and view your time as a learning and growing opportunity.

Relax. Accept the fact that you probably aren't going to be perfect at your new job immediately or even quickly. You will make some mistakes. You may get some early victories but they turn out illusory subsequently. You are going to get confused or you're going to confuse others by doing things differently than what they're used to. It's okay. Relax. The thing that you really need to get used to a new job is just time and a positive attitude.

We know that you are intelligent and well adjusted but it's up to you to leverage or build that emotional intelligence and succeed in the Firm.

Isn't it unfair to hire fresh graduates and transition them out after 3 or 6 months if they are unable to complete probation?

It is more unfair to simply retain nonperforming recruits and hope for the best.

The recruit does not benefit or realize why they are not making any headway while the rest of the co-workers have a bigger burden to accommodate the non-performer.

We work in close and tight team units. Just like a sports rowing team, if one rower does not row at the same pace as the others, the rest of the team has to row harder which is neither fair nor equitable. We are a meritocratic firm. If such non-performers are allowed to stay, the rest of the employee population will learn they can sit back on their heels and do nothing.

Also the Firm's ethical duty of competence to clients will be jeopardized by having such an non-performer and overall professional standards will diminish in the long run.

It is timely to remember throughout the probation period the unsuccessful entry level recruit is paid full salary and benefits. None of the disbursed amounts are recovered or garnished from the unsuccessful probationer. While on probation, the recruit is being paid to learn and that is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely as we are not a charity.

Life is full of examples of highly anticipated sports draft picks but not every single draft pick materializes into the championship-ring winning performer. The non-confirmation and termination ensures that recruits have "some skin in the game" and are not simply coasting along or free-riding at the expense of our clients and their co-workers.

Isn't summary dismissal for failed probationers harsh?

No. Few of us ever prepare to fail and when it happens to us, we are probably still unprepared to understand why, let alone accept it.

In fact the probationer has the same power to summarily terminate their own probation employment.

The employment agreement is clear that summary or immediate dismissal can occur at any time during probation if performance is not satisfactory. Clearly the non-performing probationer should possess some self-awareness that his/her performance is far from optimal and confirmation is in jeopardy based on seniors feedback or evaluation. Actually the fact that he/she doesn't possess such self-awareness is probably a strong indication why they can't clear probation in the first place.

The ex-probationer has 48 hours to vacate the probationary housing accommodation after termination and this is also clearly spelt out in the employment agreement. The Firm will provide information relating to alternative temporary housing if requested. In fact, in most reality TV shows like The Apprentice, the dismissed vacates the "house" immediately but we don't need that kind of dramatic gimmick.

No enterprise, large or small, is blessed enough to always hire entry level grads that possess superior skills, excellent work habits, and healthy ambition.

It is our hope that everyone we hire succeeds and the recruits that we hire all manifest tantalizing promise but some never come close to fulfilling it. In the Firm's probation program, just like life, there are no guarantees.

What are the main reasons why recruits fail the probation period?

The work of any technology business IP law firm does is somewhat demanding and will pose a slew of difficult but stimulating challenges. It is not for everyone and sometimes things don't work out in spite the best of intentions and efforts of the probationer and the Firm's supervisors and trainers.

In sum, the main reasons are lacking aptitude for the work and/or the attitude.

If the probationer had sloppy or shaky foundation knowledge and skills or overly relied on shortcuts in their university studies, these inherent deficiencies will be exposed.

In addition to poor performance issues, the typical failed probationer is one who creates a toxic work environment with disruptive conduct and speech, engages in obsessive gossiping and constant talking behind people's backs. They appear pleasant but spend every other waking minute whinging and berating about everyone and everything to anyone who has the misfortune to be within earshot.

Other recruits who will fail probation are those who find it very difficult to follow and comprehend instructions, those who think their way is always the better way or those who are hard to train and manage. Attitude problems include those that are truculent, recalcitrant, self-centered and cannot get along well with co-workers.

Some failed probationers lack vital employability skills - part-time modeling or nursing a social media addiction does not translate well in a corporate environment. Recruits with an entitlement complex, a self-inflated air of importance, wholly unrealistic expectations about working hours or lacking basic life skills will fail probation.

Why will my probation or employment be terminated for making mistakes?

No one is infallible and mistakes happen. The key is to avoid making the same or similar mistake - even if they are small - repeatedly. For example - not double checking a work product, even after errors were pointed out in the draft earlier; forgetting to verify the correct attachments to the work product even though they are supposed to be or that are essential to its understanding, or having a client point out an egregious error.

Clients and co-workers will notice repeated mistakes and the credibility and trust of the subject slowly crumbles, and eventually he or she is adjudged to be unfocused, careless, or worst of all, lazy, and termination of their probation or employment is unavoidable. The issue is accountability and responsibility. Only minors or incompetents are exempted from culpability for mistakes.

I have a Master's or PhD degree from a world leading university, why can't I pass the probationary period?

Most Master/PhD recruits probably have the raw intellectual horsepower to address complex science problems. But the real challenge to succeed here is flexibility, attitude and fit that will enable one to refine that raw talent and contribute to the client-centered solutions that the Firm provides on a daily basis.

Some probationers were let go when they couldn't get along with colleagues, had inflexible approaches or could not work in a high pressure and high-paced law firm environment.

Previous Master/PhD degree holders were dismissed as they were unable to adapt into a new work environment because they mistakenly thought that working here would be no different from hanging out in the rec room of your lab.

Some of the failed probationers displayed an unwillingness to learn new technologies or unveiled their true inadequacies like being sloppy, longwinded, tentative, constantly taking wrong shortcuts or were unwilling to invest the time and effort to succeed or otherwise could not meet the expectations demanded by the role and the Firm.

Is there a sink or swim environment?

No but the transition from university to legal work in a corporate setting is never easy. We have an extreme learning curve where a small minority of unconfirmed probationers have found it overwhelming but many confirmed employees managed just fine and excelled professionally and personally.

Like any high achieving law firms and enterprises like Apple, people just don't end up here accidentally, they come here to "swim in the deep end" and if you can't take the heat, don't enter the kitchen.

It is in everyone's interest for our new recruits to get up to speed and contribute as quickly as possible. We are not blind to the truth that some people develop differently and we have a support system for those that want to improve or can improve.

We have had some recruits that have benefited from extended training and more hand-holding and they ultimately proved to have the depth, stamina, perseverance, and organized work habits that made them some of our best performers. With the right attitude and focused competence, most of our recruits will fulfill, or even exceed expectations.

But there will always be a rare minority that will turn out a little differently from everyone's hopes and desires. For the recent university graduate who has never stepped foot in a high pace, high pressure corporate environment, it can always appear intimidating and it probably is. We are patient while the recruit is on probation but like everything in life, patience and probation has a limit.

How are assignments made for recruits? What type of work can a recruit expect to receive?

In general, assignments for junior recruits are managed at both a practice group and office level. Staffing is done on a case by case basis. There are many cases and transactions where a junior recruit works directly with the supervising attorney or team leader. There are also larger matters that may involve more levels of staffing. We strive to provide responsibility and client contact as early as is appropriate.

Can I speak Japanese at the Firm?

There is no necessity to. Our foreign hires do not require Japanese proficiency to carry out their work duties. We have never barred anyone from speaking Japanese within the Firm. We do however want to make sure that there are no miscommunications based on language issues.

The Firm has all the liability if there is any error in the client work product and it is neither fair or reasonable to foist such liability on the Firm on account of some unintended miscommunication caused by someone wanting to show off their Japanese language skills but failing. It's all a question of risk management.

What are the Firm's working hours?

Our general office hours are 9 to 6 but flexibility outside these times may be needed depending on work and client demands. We have a tough work ethic like any law firm anywhere in the world. It is not unknown for people to stay well beyond 6 pm every day of the week but you won't be alone as others in your team will be working just as hard. However if you are the type that must go for yoga classes on Tuesday nights and wine tasting on Thursday nights, this is not the position for you.

How is the work/life balance?

Like any professionally demanding career, working at our Firm can be intense and challenging. Our clients rely on us during their most pressing times or legally perilous moments, and we leave no stone unturned to exceed their expectations. Fulfilling our commitments does mean re-prioritizing one's personal needs and interests.

However, even though we believe in providing clients with exemplary work, we don't condone working extraordinary hours for their own sake. The practice of law is an extremely time-consuming profession, but you don't have to be in the office after hours just because you believe someone expects it or would be impressed.

We all face the challenge of making time for our personal and professional priorities. At our Firm, we encourage each other to find the right balance. Our culture rewards diligence, intelligence and efficiency, not the amount of time someone spends at their desk. Team leaders are evaluated, in part, on the quality of life they foster and the example that they set for other co-workers.

Are you able to leave work behind when you're done or do you need to always stay connected to work even when you're physically out of office?

All staff will be able to leave work behind when they're done for the night and there is no need to stay connected to work when you're physically out of the office.

Although there may be the extremely rare occasion when an exception occurs and what you do will be appreciated in terms of performance and salary evaluation.

What is the social life for the Firm's staff?

Our talent have great enviable social lives and the surprising thing is how easy it is to have one once you've settled down to the routine of work. The average age of our foreign talent is around 25. There are several social activities, such as Firm parties, hanami parties, BBQs and retreats so there are plenty of opportunities to get to know people in the Firm.

In addition to this, everyone at the Firm typically have their own serious social agendas and our Talent head off to the pistes, beaches, hiking trails, diving spots, museums, clubs, World Heritage sites and Osaka restaurants with the same zeal and enthusiasm as they tackle our clients' matters.

What is the firm's office relationship/romance policy?

As much as destiny has brought two lovely and lonely souls from the furthest reaches of our amazing planet together to Osaka, breakups do happen. Like any large enterprise, such intra-office romances can lead to monumental personnel problems when the office romance turns rocky or causes a breakup of an existing relationship outside the office. Sexual harassment or favoritism claims could also arise.

So the no office relationship/romance policy was introduced in 2000.

That said, the Firm does not actively police, investigate and enforce abstinence or celibacy as we cannot control human nature, but we want to limit human nature's impact on the workplace. The co-workers and the Firm did not bargain to have a relationship trainwreck happening in slow motion in the workplace. Even though it is probably very entertaining, we all have work to do.

So discretion is clearly the better part of valor and all this is spelt out clearly during orientation. Even when workplace romances occur we expect everyone to behave like adults, but as adults, one also bears the consequences if such relationships go awry and impacts the workplace environment or upsets the Firm's moral code.

Is working here really that fun and great?

First, this is not summer camp or a holiday junket. It's work.

Like anything else in life, there are peaks and valleys; hopefully we all can enjoy more peaks together. Also remember that scaling peaks require lots of effort and work. Nothing in work or life is always fun and great but we believe that the talent that succeed with us have a pretty good idea how have fun and make a great start in their professional lives.

However like any enterprise, there is a small disgruntled minority that have transitioned out due to performance and other reasons. We wish them well. It our hope that everyone who joins us will succeed; but as the famous song title goes, you can't always get what you want.

What about culture shock and how can I cope?

Culture shock will more than likely creep up on you while you are in Japan. There is a comforting veneer of the West in Japanese society but the longer you are in Japan the more you will begin to notice certain fundamental differences.



Symptoms

When you first arrive in Japan everything might seem wonderfully fresh and interesting. This is the honeymoon phase where you are so enamored by the kindness, generosity and hospitality of the Japanese.

Gradually, as the novelty begins to wear off, certain aspects of Japanese culture may start to irritate and bother you and you start thinking that your home country is perfect. You begin to experience anxiety, lack of self-confidence, panic attacks, loss of initiative and spontaneity, excessive anger over minor things, alienation, isolation. and some people start to feel irritable, upset and homesick.

You may not be able to convey your full personality in your daily life. No one understands you. Your family and friends are far away. As a result of all of this, you may feel confused, unsure of yourself, and your doubts about the wisdom of your decision to come here begin to grow.

Coping

The best way to cope with the effects of culture shock is to learn as much as you can about Japanese culture and society before you arrive and pick up or understand some basic Japanese phrases and words.

While there's no need to adopt the cultural differences that you find irritating or unpleasant, doing your best to recognize these differences and understand the reasons behind them can help you to feel more comfortable.

As you get used to life in Japan, things will start to feel less strange and foreign. In fact, most people experience reverse-culture shock to some degree when they return to their home country.

Your being in Japan will give you and also the Japanese people you interact with a chance to reexamine certain stereotypes. One of the great things about living for an extended period in Japan, or any other foreign country for that matter, is that it will cause you to do a lot of thinking about cultural differences and similarities and this will hopefully give you a much clearer understanding of your own culture and your self.

There may be some things that people at home would not do or say but try to understand that they are acting according to their own set of values, and these are born of a culture different than yours. Avoid judging their behavior by the standards of your own country. Remember different strokes for different folks and we can all really get along if we try.

Moving to a new culture can be the most fascinating and educational experience of your life. It is an opportunity to explore an entirely new way of living and make it your own. There is no better way to become aware of your own values and attitudes and to broaden your point of view.

When you begin to feel out of sorts, ask yourself: "What did I expect? Why? Was my expectation reasonable?"

Learn the culture and customs of the country you are in and respect them. Disregard your old assumptions and expectations. Be open to learning new things. Explore new ways of living and compare these to your own. Become more aware of both your values and attitudes and those of your host country.

Don't be afraid to take risks. Adjusting to a new culture requires a good amount of re-examination of your own values and outlook. Try to do that as you live in the new culture.

It is timely to remember the wisdom of James A. Michener: "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.'

Why a zero defect requirement in the work product?

We are a professional services firm and our IP law firm handles important and significant intellectual property and legal problems for our clients and they expect the work product to be error free in view of the high stakes involved.

If you bought a house that is supposed to be 15,000 square feet but due to an error it turned out to be 1,500 square feet, you quickly learn to appreciate and expect a zero defect work product just like our clients.

Why are there some redundancies in the daily practice and work system?

As any real engineer or scientist remembers, redundancies are created with the intention of increasing reliability of the practice and work system and in order to ensure a reasonable fault tolerant and fail-safe system.

The disasters with Fukushima, Hurricane Katrina and even the Titanic were caused or exacerbated due to unimaginative and improper risk management.

The matters that we handle are high stakes and human or systemic docketing errors have enormous malpractice risks. Such task redundancies are anchored by granular attention to detail, vigorous checking, exacting file reviews and data management because the clients and our insurance carrier all require such systems.

It is all too easy to engage in some noisome backseat driving when one has absolutely no idea of what professional malpractice or liability is all about.

Won't the three year work experience in Japan be irrelevant when I should really be learning about my national patent/IP law?

It is certainly irrelevant if you are the proverbial frog in the well content with a self-pleasuring domestic IP practice.

IP and patent law is one of the most international and diversified of all legal disciplines but if one is content in starting your legal career domestically, you shouldn't apply to work here.

Einstein spent seven years as a technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office located in Bern. It was during this time when Einstein made the majority of his staggering and life-transformational discoveries.

Since Einstein's Nobel Prize citation did not mention his time as a patent technical assistant, by the same reasoning underlying this question, his time and experience with patents was irrelevant.

For the record, Einstein credited his time working around patents as when he "hatched [his] most beautiful thoughts", Einstein's Mirror p 7 (A. Hey, 1997)

Are there promotion or advancement opportunities during the three year contract?

Absolutely. We believe in contributing to the personal and professional growth of our talent. Outstanding individuals who display the right attributes will be earmarked for promotion and development as future leaders and mentors of their respective teams. There will also be commensurate enhancements in salary, benefits and privileges based upon the employee's performance evaluation. External training and development with paid study leave is also available for especially deserving employees and is granted on a case-by-case basis.

We actively encourage career development to ensure that our talent remain committed, challenged, fresh and excited about serving our clients' innovation. You'll have the opportunity to contribute to the Firm's success on a daily basis, while achieving your own career goals.

Are professional development opportunities available?

Yes. We are committed to investing in the development of our people, which is why seek to nourish their learning and development throughout their employment with us by offering a wide range of education and training opportunities.

We have a variety of learning and development resources available to eligible employees, including in house seminars and lectures about latest legal, regulatory and business developments that affect our practice. Our employees are also eligible, subject to conditions, to take paid study leave and attend external legal and professional review courses and qualification examinations.

This is part and parcel of our work environment that is dedicated to professional growth, collaboration, respect, integrity and continuous learning.

What about internal opportunities and transfers?

All vacancies are open to people already with the firm and transfers to different roles may be available from time to time. Where necessary we are glad to provide training, sponsorship and paid study leave or other support for any professional development needed.

Is there a high turnover rate?

No. Our first year annual turnover rates for confirmed employees are:

2010 - 19.3%
2011 - 21.1%
2012 - 18.5%
2013 - 19.8%
2014 - 18.4%
2015 - 17.8%
2016 - 19.5%

These figures are below the average for U.S. and Canadian law firms.

According to the authoritative National Association for Law Placement (NALP), the rate of associate attrition stands at 37% within the first three years of practice, see 2018 Update on Associate Attrition (calendar year 2017).

Anecdotally, the annual turnover rate at large US law firms is close to 25 percent a year. 25% is also the actual turnover rate in Canadian law firms (Catalyst 2005). Therefore our annual turnover rates are lower than US and Canadian rates.

Generally, turnover at law firms has always been higher than most industries and occupations. In 2013, FORTUNE magazine reported that law firm turnover rate is almost 10 times the 2-3% turnover rate at Fortune's 100 Best Companies To Work For.

The main reasons for higher turnover rates at law firms are largely performance related given the up-or-out nature of law practice and the unflinching commitment to practice excellence demanded by the best law firms, and we are no exception.

There are fundamental aspects of a law firm job no one can change. The hours are demanding and the work is stressful and challenging. If you believe that you will not be a good fit with such a demanding environment, please do not apply. Only candidates who can thrive in a high-pressure, challenging but ultimately rewarding atmosphere should apply.

What about performance-related involuntary turnover?

The primary reasons for involuntary turnover are performance-related. Naturally it is in everyone's interests to ensure that the recruits that we hire succeed at our Firm and fulfill their potential.

It is our goal to recruit and retain the very best talent that our organization has invested so much time, money and development resources in.

We have a six month probation period (extendible by 3 months where circumstances are applicable) and it is as much a probation period for us as it is for the candidate. If the employee cannot perform, our clients and the free marketplace expect us to deny them confirmation.

We have a fair and transparent performance evaluation procedure that everyone takes very seriously. However sometimes a candidate may be a world-beater in the laboratory or score top grades in an examination setting but that academic nous may not translate in the workplace; where we require a team member to positively contribute to the client's work product and outcome.

We will take remedial steps to improve the candidate's performance and as a last resort, the ex-recruit will be transitioned out. The average annual probation confirmation rate is 68.3% per year.

Even after employees are confirmed, advancement or promotion is performance dependent and we will transition non-performers to alternative options elsewhere.

What about voluntary turnover?

Although we enter into a three year work contract with all our employees, there is a one month termination notice requirement and there could be unforeseeable family or personal reasons that may force one to change their plans.

Sometimes in spite of the best of intentions, working in the law is not everyone's cup of tea and people leave. This is not surprising since the very nature of legal work is challenging, exacting and not for the faint-hearted.

If one is naïve and is unable to cope with the time demands of working in a foreign country coupled with performing in a high pressure environment, we advise the candidate to avail themselves to other low pressure opportunities.

Some recruits apply thinking that they can use the time working in a foreign country as an opportunity for an extended holiday or learn the Japanese language. We make it very clear during the application process that such applicants should not apply as we are not that sort of enterprise.

If you want to have a fun time holidaying in Japan, please purchase a vacation package, and don't think that you can have a holiday at the expense of our clients.

Working in Japan, like undertaking any significant endeavor in one's life, should be properly and thoroughly thought through and never taken lightly. Those that dare will win.

What is your "up-or-out" policy?

Our up-or-out policy essentially means that you constantly have to develop and contribute to be successful at our Firm during your time here. The rate of development will typically go up and down over time for the individual talent, as some needs will be more difficult to meet than others, the pace is likely to vary amongst individuals, and everyone has unique strengths and commonplace weaknesses.

But as long as you demonstrate that you have the potential to develop and contribute, you can stay with us and prosper. Most people who leave voluntarily according to the notice provisions because they find other opportunities that are more appealing or their priorities have changed and there's nothing wrong with that.

Doesn't the Firm have a revolving door workplace reputation?

Of course not. Some employees have worked beyond their initial 3 year contracts.

Many of our Talent and Alumni view the 3 year experience as a remarkable opportunity to transition from the laboratory or academia into the corporate world of innovation and living in one of the most fascinating countries in the world, Japan. 3 years is the optimal time to learn, inculcate and practice the best habits of a truly effective innovation talent.

The Firm makes a huge investment of time, money and effort in recruitment, development and learning; taking a chance on every batch of untested recruits. This is done because everyone's interests are completely aligned: by investing a lot in the successful talent during the 3 year work contract here, the talent will be great at their jobs and deliver outstanding client outcomes and everyone prospers and grows.

After the talent completes their 3 year contract to pursue another opportunity in the law or anywhere in the innovation chain, be it in management or research, the alumni will be fantastic at that new role after having cut their teeth on the cutting edge work at the Firm and the rich experiences that they had with us. The testimonials from our remarkable Talent prove this. Hopefully in the long run, our alumni will be in a position to re-engage with Firm and work together in the virtuous cycle of innovation, as some already do.

Is there a minimum billable hours requirement?

No. Quality performance is the sole determinant of salary increments and advancements in the Firm. Because all your work comes through the supervising attorney or team leaders to whom you have been assigned, the Firm knows the quality and quantity of your work first-hand on a daily basis.

If there is no billable hour requirement, how are performance-related salary adjustments determined?

Like elsewhere, salary adjustments depend on the employee's performance and all relevant economic considerations. The 12 performance criteria are the same as that for probation confirmation.

Substantive KnowledgeJudgment
Research and AnalysisAdaptability/Flexibility
Written Communication SkillsInterpersonal Skills at Work
Oral Communication/ListeningTeamwork & Cooperation
DependabilityLearning/Development
Imagination, Creativity InitiativeProductivity

Salary adjustments will vary accordingly.

Are employees required to read POWER TO PERCEIVE THE ESSENCE authored by the Founder?

There is no requirement and they are welcome to. The title is simply a collection of thoughts and the business philosophy of the Founder. In fact, if you want to know how to read a person like a book, you should read a book by that person.

What happens after I complete a three year service contract with the Firm?

Some choose to extend their contracts beyond the three years of service at our Firm. We are always ready to oblige such extensions where appropriate. Others decide to pursue opportunities in careers outside the Firm. The invaluable legal training and transformational experience one gains during their time of service often makes the transition much easier.

Whatever path you choose after serving the three year contract with us, we will support your decision with counseling and guidance to help you succeed in your post-Firm career.

We have taken an active role in transitioning our alumni who've successfully completed their three year service contracts into corporate in-house positions, prestigious law & MBA schools, academia, or pave the way to secure various national professional qualifications as patent & trademark attorneys, patent examiners, business consultants, university technology transfer officers and other technology management positions in the public & private sector.

We are offering an entry level position and a start of a legal or professional work career. Our alumni have justly benefited from their work experience with us; their experiences have burnished their professional lives and they have credited their time spent at our Firm in their social media footprint and professional profiles. We have no doubt that you will too.

Why are contract extensions denied to employees who've completed their 3 year term of service?

Contract extensions like confirmation and salary increments are dependent on performance. Extensions are granted upon mutual consent of the Firm and the employee. If there is no meeting of the minds, there is no extension. It takes two to tango.

Employees whose performances have plateaued or show little potential for greater progress even though they can minimally satisfy key performance indicators are not considered for contract extensions. Any extension decision is not taken lightly but carefully evaluated and based on extensive feedback from their supervisor, leader, peers and juniors.

The Firm appreciates the contribution and service of all employees who complete their 3 year contract term of employment and will actively assist in helping them realize new opportunities and challenges that can better accommodate their talent set and skills.

To borrow another analogy from sports, as much as the goaltender, fullback, shortstop, striker, pitcher or quarterback wants to keep on playing, when and if an athlete's powers wane and go into decline, its time for a change and to move on.

There is disappointment, bewilderment, and resentment much like unrequited relationships. Nevertheless we will endeavor to help the departing employee with their transition. Let us all move on with our lives.

How should I decide if I have doubts about applying?

Our Hiring Director is more than ready to answer any question that you may have during the shortlisting telephone interview.

Why won't SY alumni return my emails?

Just like you don't reply to emails from total strangers, you can hardly expect to receive any response from a stranger too.

People are on business networking sites to find out about future opportunities and network with prospective employers and future leads. Our alumni have busy and successful careers and they are inundated with work and busy schedules. Frankly just because someone is on social media does not mean that they will communicate with anyone. If any candidate has any question, they are at liberty to ask the Hiring Director and he will be glad to accommodate.

Why is there such a peer competitor reaction against the Firm?

Professional envy and jealously is not a monopoly of the West but it also prevalent in Japan as elsewhere.

We respectfully and ethically do the best for our clients at all times, but sometimes when you make an omelet, you've got to break a few eggs. Our competitors have often felt the brunt of our take-no-prisoners approach to practice (only at our clients' behest) as we advocate our clients' case as best as possible and within ethical boundaries. We compete and stand together with our brethren in the best traditions of our profession.

No one can resist kicking the shins of the Yankees, Yomiuri Giants, Manchester United, Red Sox, Barcelona or any dominating force when given the chance. However, we prefer to let our clients' outcomes speak for themselves, rather than worry about what our competitors say.


If you have any questions, please email the Hiring Director, resumes@shupat.gr.jp No telephone inquiries, please.

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