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An Interview with Sayuri Umeda, Foreign Law Specialist

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This week’s interview is with Sayuri Umeda, Foreign Law Specialist in our Global Legal Research Center.

Describe your background.

I joined the Directorate of Legal Research (which was renamed as the Global Legal Research Center in 2010) of the Law Library in 2001.  I used to have only two (or three, depending on how we count the two Koreas) country jurisdictions (Japan and Korea), but started to cover former French Indochina, Thailand, and Myanmar in 2010.  I am from Japan and speak Japanese.

What is your academic/professional history?

I earned a LL.B. degree from Chuo University in Tokyo Japan.  I then passed the Japanese Bar exam, went through two years of legal training, and became a registered attorney in Japan.  I practiced law in Japan before I came to the U.S. to be enrolled in the LL.M. program at the George Washington University Law School.   I earned a LL.M. from there in 1997, passed the New York Bar, and was registered as an attorney in New York in 1998.  I interned at the office of the Honorable Randall A. Rader (currently Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) in 1997-98.  After the internship, I worked in various legal roles, mainly in the intellectual property law area.  I also worked at an IP firm in Washington, DC.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I think my colleague, Edith Palmer, offered an excellent explanation of our job in her interview.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

I had not planned to have a legal career in the United States.  Instead, I came to the U.S. to study U.S. law to better serve clients in Japan.  But I ended up staying in the U.S. after graduation from the GWU Law School.  However, I realized that I was not prepared for the U.S. legal job market, and there were not many places to utilize my unique assets (Japanese language skills, knowledge of Japanese law and society, connection with Japanese jurists, etc.).  The Law Library was the ideal place for me to use my skills and knowledge.  In addition, I love to talk about Japan and Japanese law, and now it is my job.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?

I really care about the Japanese collections of the Law Library.  I sometimes walk around the stacks and check the collections.  We hold some books and materials that are hard to find in Japan – many of them were taken by the Allied Forces during their occupation after WWII.  My most surprising discovery, so far, was the official gazette of Indonesia published during Japanese military rule during WWII.  There are only a few complete sets of this publication around the world, and the Law Library has a set.  (Main Title: Kan pō. Berita pemerintah.)

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