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Working as a Lawyer in my Hometown

Norihisa Yamazaki
Lawyer

1. My Life as a Student at the Chuo Law School

I was born in Chikuma City, Nagano Prefecture. I entered the Chuo Law School in 2006. I decided to enter Chuo Law School because I was interested in how businesspeople give classes through support from legal professionals who are Chuo Alumni, and how the school possesses an educational system for cultivating diverse professionals.

After enrolling, in each course, I was able to take a good balance of classes taught by instructors engaging in research and classes taught by businesspeople. Through these classes, I was able to study law from a broad perspective. In addition to classroom work, I was able to learn about actual legal practice through ADR classes (students can experience procedures for dispute resolution through mediation) and externships (about two weeks of training at a law office). These experiences gave me the opportunity for first-hand observation of actual legal practice, something that I never could have learned in the classroom. Also, upon getting a close look at the work performed by lawyers, I strongly felt that I wanted to become a lawyer as soon as possible.

While enrolled at Chuo University, I prepared to take the national bar examination at the same time that I took classes at the Chuo Law School. I held several voluntary seminars (mainly practicing essay writing for the bar) with friends from class. In addition to attending at classes at school, preparing for classes and reviewing materials, I studied for the national bar examination in my free time. Although I was very busy while enrolled at university, it was a very fulfilling time in my life.

2. Working in Nagano

While studying at law school, I was completely engrossed in handling the immediate tasks at hand. Therefore, I hadn’t given much thought to what kind of lawyer I wanted to become or where I wanted to work.

However, during an externship while enrolled at the Chuo Law School, I received the following recommendation from a lawyer who oversaw my training: “You’re from Nagano, right? If you plan on returning to your hometown someday, you should go back as soon as possible and create relationships with senior lawyers.” Moreover, I received the following advice from Mr. Shinichiro Toyama, who instructed me during ADR classes: “If you plan on going back to your hometown someday, you should return as soon as possible and form as many personal networks as possible.” Based on the advice, I decided to return to Nagano Prefecture in the event of passing the bar examination. I succeeded in passing the bar examination in 2008 and applied for a legal apprenticeship in Nagano. Following my apprenticeship, I began working in a law office in Nagano City.

The law office where I worked was located adjacent to the venerable Zenkoji Temple. Nagano City grew from its beginning as a post-town based around Zenkoji Temple. The area along the approach to the temple was lined with lanterns and cobbled pathways, creating an extremely charming atmosphere. Also, located within walking distance from Zenkoji Temple is Gondo Shopping Area, where there are many pubs and bars with wonderful atmospheres. Although Nagano is famous for soba (buckwheat) noodles, it recently places emphasis on marketing Shinshu Salmon and Shinshu Gibier (wild game). Moreover, many tourist spots and hot springs are located a short drive from the city. On my days off, I often took day trips to various hot springs. By car, it was possible to travel quite far even on day trips.

After beginning work as a lawyer, I have experienced a variety of cases. I learned how to handle my work one case at a time and received advice from senior lawyers. The same time that I started working, I also joined various committees and participated in committee activities in the Nagano Bar Association. My committee activities gave me an opportunity to make the acquaintance of lawyers outside of my office. Furthermore, my awareness towards social issues increased through those committee activities.

3. Starting my own office in Chikuma City

After starting to work as a lawyer, I gradually began preparing to open my own office. Then, in early 2013, I started a law office under my own name in my hometown of Chikuma City.

Chikuma City is located right between Ueda Station and Nagano Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Line. My office in Chikuma is under the jurisdiction of the Ueda Branch of the Nagano District and Family Court, and I can reach the Ueda Branch by car in about 40 minutes when driving on ordinary roads. It also takes about the same amount of time to reach the headquarters of the Nagano District and Family Court, located in Nagano City.

Chikuma City stretches north and south along the Chikuma River. The city is blessed with rich history and nature. Attractions include the popular tourist spot Anzu-no-Sato (an apricot farm), Obasute-no-Sato, a place of scenic beauty described in ancient poems, and the venerable Togura Kamiyamada Hot Spring Town. I am very happy that I was able to start a law office in my hometown.

4. Daily work as a lawyer

I have handled a variety of cases since starting my own law office. My work is mainly based on general civil cases such as corporate labor issues, intellectual property, real estate, inheritance, traffic accidents, debt consolidation, divorce, and compensation for damage. However, I also handle criminal cases. Originally, my area of operation was mainly limited to cases within Chikuma City, but I have recently begun working in various areas throughout Nagano Prefecture.

In general, I drive my car when traveling to courts, onsite investigations, meetings, and other functions. Although I often spend a long time in my car, it can be refreshing and enjoyable during the fine weather of spring and autumn. However, great caution is required during the winter in Nagano. Snowfall causes traffic jams and roads are sometimes closed. This can throw off the estimated travel time and cause inconvenience.

I travel to many different places for onsite investigations, including muddy rice fields and former factory sites. I always keep work gloves and rubber boots in my car so that I won’t have any problems no matter where I go.

5. Interaction with the community

The region where I work faces issues such as an aging population and declining birthrate. Through my work as a lawyer and regional activities, I hope to help in the resolution of these issues.

In terms of addressing issues surrounding the elderly through my work, I strive to prevent and resolve disputes concerning adult guardianships and wills. I am also a member of the local social welfare council. Together with other professionals in the region, I make recommendations such as mechanisms for utilizing adult guardianships required by the community.

In order for citizens to lead a vibrant life in the community, it is necessary for several successful companies to exist. Through my work as a lawyer, I assist in resolving issues related to labor, intellectual property, business succession, and other issues faced by local corporations. Moreover, through my involvement with the local chamber of commerce and junior chamber, I also think about how to assist with corporate needs through regional development activities.

Furthermore, as discussed above, I participate in committee activities (Operating Committee at the Elderly & Disabled Individuals Support Center, the Business Measures Committee, Legal Education Committee, Committee on Measures against Racketeering through Intercession in Civil Disputes, etc.) at the Nagano Bar Association. Through these activities, I assist in regional development and resolution of regional issues.

I will continue to work as a lawyer while thinking of ways to contribute to the community.

Norihisa Yamazaki
Lawyer
Norihisa Yamazaki was born in Chikuma City, Nagano Prefecture in 1976.
He graduated from Yashiro High School, Nagano and Meiji University School of Law.
In March 2008, he completed studies at the Chuo Law School.
In September 2008, he passed the national bar examination, and served his legal apprenticeship in Nagano (62nd class).
In December 2009, he entered employment at a law office in Nagano City (Nagano Bar Association).
In January 2013, he established Norihisa Yamazaki Law Office in Chikuma City.