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Melbourne associate Justin reports from his current rotation in Tokyo

"I've always wanted my job to have an international flavor, whether working overseas or being involved in international deals while based in Australia," says Melbourne graduate Justin Chang, whose current rotation has taken him to Tokyo, Japan. 

He says that White & Case offered both career possibilities. "I became certain of this through the clerkship experience, and having worked in Melbourne, Sydney, Seoul and Tokyo offices in the past year alone, I think I can say that White & Case has delivered all its promises."

For Justin, working in Japan was a chance to put his language skills to use and find out more about a neighboring country. "I had been studying Japanese since high school. I also thought that the physical proximity between Japan and Korea might allow me to visit Seoul and work with our team over there as well. I'm grateful as both expectations were met—my understanding of the Japanese culture and language has improved a lot, and I'm also currently working with the Seoul team on project finance matters." 

A warm welcome to the team

He says that the Tokyo team made him feel instantly welcome. "I hit the ground running, but didn't feel overwhelmed because associates and partners spent a lot of time with me to make sure I was fully up to speed. This made me feel that I had instantly become part of the team." This welcome extended beyond the office. "On the social side, the Firm organized welcome drinks and lunches, which helped me get to know the entire office very quickly." 

Justin points out that the similarities in the global network of White & Case offices also made for an easy integration: "So far I've been to Melbourne, Sydney, Tokyo and Seoul, and the transition is seamless—you walk in with your laptop, plug it in to the desktop and you're ready to go. All offices have near identical policies, systems and great views of their respective cities. The only tangible difference is Melbourne has a professional espresso machine for us to make our own double-shot flat white with three-quarter almond milk!" 

Challenging but fulfilling work

What type of matters is Justin currently focusing on in Tokyo? "I've been lucky enough to assist in multiple headline-making deals for both the M&A and Asset Finance teams. All of these deals had at least one international party, and the governing law for some of the documents varied from Japan to England & Wales to New York to Columbia. I found it very challenging at first, but you can really see yourself grow in leaps and bounds, which is extremely fulfilling." 

Justin reflects on what he wanted to gain from the experience of working overseas, and how it's lived up to his expectations. "I want to work with clients from different cultural backgrounds—not only Japan—as I feel that this ability is key to providing good professional service. I have learnt a lot here about dealing with different expectations and demands. It is such a great opportunity to learn and develop so early on in your career—I never imagined myself working in a completely different jurisdiction after just six months. It really opens your eyes to the bigger world." 

A new, international perspective

For Justin, the overseas experience is definitely one that he recommends. He explains why: "You finish the rotation with an international perspective, which is a key asset in increasing your areas of commercial law. Of course, there is no doubt you're being stretched thin, but I feel that's the best way to learn fast, and the associates' and partners' doors are always open for you to step in and ask questions." 

In conclusion, he says, "You get invaluable lessons that help you become a better lawyer, and at the same time you get to explore a whole new city for six months. You'll work hard, develop new skills, learn from experienced colleagues—and, of course, have fun every now and then too!"

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