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Melbourne Associate Bryce Paterson
Challenging work and a memorable cultural experience in Japan

“I highly recommend an international secondment to every lawyer. It is an opportunity to broaden your practice area and build the flexible work skills required for success in an ever-changing field.”

When Melbourne-based senior associate Bryce expressed an interest in working in Asia, he was quickly offered an opportunity to go on secondment to a Tokyo-based client. According to Bryce, "I jumped at this opportunity and, three weeks later, I was on a plane to Tokyo. As well as the cultural experience, I was excited at the prospect of using my experience on renewable projects in a new country."

So how would Bryce sum up this year in Tokyo? "My 12 months in Japan were a whirlwind of intense work, late-night karaoke sessions and a lot of ramen! Plus, I got to work some of the largest and most complex project financings in Asia, which was really rewarding." 

 

Building lasting friendships

According to Bryce, "The team at the client office and the White & Case Tokyo office were kind, hard-working and incredibly welcoming to an Australian with very little Japanese-language skills." 

His colleagues quickly became friends too: "As White & Case has a large office in Tokyo, I managed to spend quite a bit of team-building friendships with our Japanese lawyers. This was exceptionally rewarding, especially as we have continued to work on projects together since my return to Melbourne."

 

An unforgettable chance to explore Japan

"One of the highlights of my time in Tokyo was exploring Japan. Almost every weekend involved hiking in the mountains or catching the Shinkansen train to another city and eating my way through its culinary specialities. Japan is exceptionally well connected by its train system and the whole country is within a couple of hours' train ride."

 

The benefits of going on secondment

Spending time embedded with one of our clients is a valuable opportunity for our lawyers to really get to know our clients, as Bryce confirms. "The biggest takeaway from my secondment has been a greater appreciation for the internal workings of our Japanese clients. Intricate norms and workplace etiquette permeate Japanese business culture, and my secondment has given me unparalleled exposure to this world. For example, I am now comfortable with the formal Japanese style of email writing. I feel much better placed to respond to the needs of these clients after completing this secondment."

 

Valuable experience in an important market

As well as the chance to get to know an individual client, Bryce reflects on the importance of working in a different culture. "With the rapid rise of the middle class across a number of Asian countries, lawyers with the skills to finance and develop infrastructure will be key to the economic growth of these countries." 

"My secondment to Tokyo allowed me to deepen my understanding of how power projects operate throughout the region. I have been able to take these skills back to Melbourne and pass such knowledge on to my colleagues to further deepen the connection to this important part of the world, an area that will drive global growth for the next 100 years."

So what's Bryce's advice to a lawyer considering how to further their career? "I highly recommend an international secondment to every lawyer. It is an opportunity to broaden your practice area and build the flexible work skills required for success in an ever-changing field."

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