Yukiko Hatoko came to Melbourne Law School to gain new legal insights that she could bring back to her home country of Japan. But having fallen in love with Australia, she now hopes to settle here more permanently and become part of a bridge between the two countries.
“Since my childhood, I have been interested in justice and fairness,” Yukiko explained, “I wanted to contribute to improving society with my expertise. I came to think that since business is the foundation of people’s lives and no one can cut ties with economic activities in this modern world, I should focus on commercial law and try to achieve justice and fairness in this area.”
Yukiko began her career as a lawyer in Tokyo, with a focus on commercial law. At the same time, she was also taking night classes in global business law and considering overseas study. After one of her professors encouraged her to apply to Melbourne Law School's Master of Laws (LLM), it became her top pick. “It was the best choice for me, because it’s a top-tier school with a strong global reputation,” Yukiko said. The mix of domestic and international students and the different perspectives her peers would bring was another deciding factor. “I can learn many things from [fellow students], as well as from lecturers,” she said.
Observing that Japan’s economic activities are becoming more globalised, Yukiko was eager to sharpen her understanding of international business law and practices. “Although Australia and Japan have a significant number of commercial dealings, not many Japanese lawyers have come to study Australian law,” she explained. “I wanted to differentiate my legal service from others and assist Japanese and Australian enterprises in expanding their business between the two countries.”
The wide range of subjects offered by Melbourne Law School enabled Yukiko to study Australian IP law and privacy law, as well as several subjects from the private law area, such as negligence, civil procedure and contract law. Outside of those classes, hearing different perspectives and meeting students from other faculties at the free seminars and lunch gatherings held by the Asian Law Centre was a highlight. As was the invaluable advice she received on her essays from the Legal Academic Skills Community – which helped her improve her writing skills “dramatically”.
Just as she had hoped, Yukiko learned a lot from her fellow students as well as her lecturers. But she admitted she found it intimidating, at first, to contribute herself. “Since I am not a native speaker of English, especially at the beginning of the program, I sometimes felt it was challenging to keep up with the discussions. I studied very hard, trying to make contributions to each class. In Japanese culture, it is not generally expected for students to speak up spontaneously, so it was a new experience for me. I found studying more rewarding, because the more effort I made, the more I could contribute to the class, not just get good results in exams.”
As Yukiko progressed in both her language proficiency and legal knowledge, her intentions for the future changed. “Initially, I planned to return to Japan,” she said. “However, studying in this program and living in Melbourne gradually made me desire to get an Australian qualification and pursue my career here. Since I love both Japan and Australia, I have the ambition to become part of a bridge between the two countries.”
“I’m always grateful that I could meet wonderful people who have significantly affected my life and career before and during my stay in Australia,” Yukiko said. “Without their encouragement and help, I could not have led such a great school life and considered my future career in Australia. I want to use this opportunity to thank them. I also want to encourage future candidates to socialise with people in and out of their program."
“I came to Melbourne for the first time in my life to join this program, and immediately fell in love with this beautiful city," she continued. "I enjoyed many concerts, including jazz and classical music, and various art museums around the city. There are a lot of old buildings or sites with historical value too, and beautiful beaches and botanical gardens that are easily accessible. When feeling tired after focusing on studying, I could refresh myself by visiting those places. I’m always thinking that it's fortunate to have our campus in such a wonderful city. I want future candidates to have these beautiful experiences as well.”