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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May. 2013)

Career compass
Students and career choices

There is no manual for being a human being.
Simply commit yourself and give your best effort.

Mr. Takahisa Mizukami

In this article "Career Compass," we hear the latest job-hunting information and how they generally perceive involvement in job-hunting from people in charge of recruitment. In this edition, we talk with Mr. Takahisa Mizukami, who entered Waseda Law School after working as a consultant and is currently active as a lawyer and consultant. Mr. Mizukami discusses the work of a lawyer, qualities required in a lawyer, and opportunities which only exist while studying at university.

The appeal and responsibility of handling a “powerful social medicine”

There was no single path or objective which led me to become a lawyer. After graduating from university, I became a consultant from the desire to provide management know-how to corporations. However, laws were often an obstacle when proposing new businesses. I wanted to be able to speak with lawyers on an equal footing and I decided to enter law school. I chose Waseda Law School because its teachers are active on the frontline of actual legal practice and because I agreed with the school’s stance of accepting diverse students.

In addition to knowledge and logical thinking ability, I think that human skill is the most important quality required by lawyers. It is necessary to listen carefully to clients and extract true issues which even the client himself or herself has yet to grasp. In the case of corporate lawsuits, lawyers must understand emotional elements which cannot be comprehended through a business-like attitude. It is said that “law is a powerful social medicine.” Indeed, the application of law can change the life of an individual and a high level of ethics is required. Waseda Law School emphasizes classes on legal ethics, a policy which I understood once I actually started practicing law.

A lawyer’s work is more than just lawsuits

Currently, about one-third of my work is related to lawsuits. Approximately 40% is related to education such as serving as an Assistant Professor at the Aoyama Gakuin University Law School and an Academic Coordinator at Waseda Law School. The remaining one-third of my work consists of legal practice for supporting renewable energy businesses. The expansion of regionally-driven renewable energy business is the key for reforms to realize a sustainable energy structure. I support regional businesspeople by making policy recommendations and giving legal advice for individual projects. For example, I was involved in formulating Iida City’s “Ordinance for Building a Sustainable Society through Renewable Energy.” In this way, even without being a politician or bureaucrat, lawyers can work for the benefit of society through involvement in lawmaking.

When considering the career path of a lawyer, finding employment at a law office wasn’t that difficult 5 years ago. However, the market is now saturated with lawyers who perform lawsuit-related work. Prospective lawyers need to consider two options: either achieve success in the fierce competition of the conventional lawsuit-related market or utilize their legal credentials to work in a new market.

Making law a shared social asset through various legal activities

Currently, I am a member of the Waseda Legal Commons Law Office, which operates on a common policy that legal knowledge is a shared social asset. The office was established by a group of lawyers, all of whom have about 5 years of legal experience. Through cooperation with Waseda Law School, the office serves as a platform for connecting law students and society. Students are provided with the opportunity to gain practical experience through externships and case programs. Currently, even with experience as a working professional and the desire to engage in legal practice, it can be difficult for older lawyers to obtain employment. In response to this problem, our law office has established a system to accept older lawyers as lawyers under development. Through this system in which legal professionals are trained by legal professionals, we hope to produce even more outstanding lawyers and achieve our office’s policy.

During your privileged time as a student, go and meet the people who you want to meet

Regardless of whether or not they seek to become legal professionals, my advice to students is that “simply thinking is not enough.” If you have time to dally and think, then take action instead. If things don’t go as planned, then you can start thinking again. Thinking without action is nothing more than fantasizing. Life as a university student is a privileged time. Many people will meet with you simply because you are a student at Waseda University. If you are interested in a legal career, read law precedents and make an appointment to speak with the lawyer acting as counsel for the precedent which interests you the most.

Your time as a university student will be well spent as long as you commit yourself and take some kind of action. Recently, I often see people who seek a by-the-book answer for the question of “what they should do.” However, the world isn’t such a simple place that success is guaranteed for people who act by the book. The only option is to commit yourself and make every effort to find happiness in the life which you have chosen.

Mr. Takahisa Mizukami

In 1999, graduated from the Department of Management at the Faculty of Commerce and Management, Hitotsubashi University. Entered employment at Sanwa Research Institute Corporation the same year. In 2007, completed legal studies at Waseda Law School. Juris Doctor. Became a registered lawyer in 2008. Has held positions including private evaluator in the review and prioritization of government programs, member in the review and prioritization of municipal programs, member of the working group in the MEXT program for the disclosure of information by universities, and external advisor to the Consumer Commission’s working group regarding the issue of price raises by TEPCO. His current positions include contract inspector for Urban Renaissance Agency, member of the task force in the Iida City Energy Business Coordination Organization, Assistant Professor at the Aoyama Gakuin University Law School, and Chairman of the Association for Legal Action to Support Renewable Energy Business (NPO). Member of the Waseda Legal Commons Law Office since 2013.

From the Career Center
Continue to embrace challenges and apply results to your next effort

University students are privileged in that they have abundant time and are allowed to make mistakes. It is important to constantly take action and acquire experience. Regardless of success or failure, it is vital to apply results to your next effort. Waseda offers countless opportunities for meeting with diverse people and growing. Please take advantage of these opportunities and continue to lead a student life true to your own values.