The possibilities that have opened up by studying the law have far exceeded my expectations

Iori Nihira
3rd year student
Department of Law
Faculty of Law

Iori Nihira, a third-year student in the Department of Law, says, “The broad scope of law studies has expanded my range of learning, and I have become interested in fields I never thought I would be interested in.” Inspired by watching legal dramas on TV, his vision for the future has expanded through his participation in mock trials and studying international law.

The joy in discovering that the law is deeper than I had ever imagined

Before entering university, I had a rather abstract view of the law. I had always loved criminal dramas, and because of this interest, I wanted to become a lawyer or prosecutor. Despite my vague idea of what my specialty would be, my strong desire to be involved with the law meant that entering law school was really my only choice for higher education.

What surprised me the most upon beginning my studies was the depth of the law. The scope of application and interpretation of the law was more complex than I had expected, and I realized once again how difficult it is to deal with. Take, for example, the “Litigation Law” class. I had no idea that there were laws governing the procedures for lawsuits, even though I often hear the word “lawsuit” in my daily life. I am taking classes in all three departments of the Faculty of Law to learn from every angle. It’s exciting and motivating to see how what I have learned in other specializations can be applied to my own field.

Walking around the Sophia University campus, there is a welcoming atmosphere that is accepting of all students, including those coming from abroad. Many different languages are spoken here, and I am sometimes surprised to hear fluent English spoken by Japanese students. Now that my interests have expanded to include international law, I am developing a global perspective by learning about cultures from around the world at campus events and talking with international students. And since the Supreme Court of Japan is close to Sophia’s campus, I can watch the law being practiced in real life.

Building meaningful bonds with professors through discussions and legal courses

I was initially most interested in the criminal law field of domestic law, which is concerned with crime and punishment, so I took a class on criminal law in my sophomore year. Now, as a third-year student, I’m taking a course on family law, and it is interesting to realize that the impact of the law extends to the immediate surroundings of society. It’s very interesting because a single court case can change the entire administrative system, significantly impacting ordinary citizens’ lives.

What I like about the Department of Law is the closeness between the professors and students. I belong to a legal course that prepares students for law school, and I have many opportunities to take classes from active lawyers. The support I receive from my professors is amazing. In my regular classes and seminars, the professors carefully correct my answers and are also kind enough to offer advice on career and study paths. Of course, they also participate in our discussions with other students to deepen our overall understanding of the subject. I am very grateful for that, and it motivates me to do my best in my studies to do them proud.

Expanding the scope of your interests into new areas through practical experience

The broad scope of law studies has expanded my range of learning, and I have become interested in fields I never thought I would be interested in. In particular, my activities in the Sophia International Law Club, where we participate in a mock trial competition using international law, helped me develop new goals.

I wasn’t originally interested in international law, but I joined the group because the mock trial sounded interesting. In hindsight, it was a great decision. In mock trial competitions, each university develops arguments about a fictitious dispute under international law from the standpoints of the plaintiff and defendant. Everything, from the submission of documents to the arguments, was exactly like an actual trial, so it was a very practical experience and couldn’t have been more interesting.

I also have good memories of reading past precedents and having thorough discussions among the members to create proper and legally valid documents. Thanks to this, our group won second place in the national preliminary round of the “Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition” and performed well on the world stage. In this competition, we had to present our arguments in English, so we practiced over and over while learning unique courtroom phrases from the senior members of our group. I can still recall how nervous and excited I was while standing on the stage.

In this club, we once handled a case involving an international transaction. The majority shareholder was in country A, but the minority shareholders were scattered across different countries. In this case, which country has the right to sue? Until then, I thought that international transaction law was a different world, but this case made me realize that it is a field that deals with familiar problems that could actually occur, so I became interested in it immediately.

In the future, as a lawyer with experience in three different legal fields, I would like to be involved not only in the criminal field, but also in international work, such as transactions and disputes between nations. I am surprised at myself by this development, which I had not even imagined when I first entered the university. It is a possibility that has presented itself to me because I have studied law extensively. I feel that I am getting closer step by step to becoming like the legal professionals in criminal dramas that I had only dreamed of becoming not so long ago.

※Please note that the content of this article is current as of August 2021

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