SHINSHU SERVICES, INC.: Japanese Language Legal Support and Consulting is the premier organization providing Japanese language interpretation and translation, and related expert advice and legal support services, to leading law firms in the Washington, D.C. area and across the country over the past two decades. As a lawyer-led organization, SHINSHU provides the extra measure of understanding that is often critical to favorable outcomes in litigation and negotiations involving Japanese parties, witnesses or documents.


The founder and head of SHINSHU is Brenda K. Seat, an American attorney with extensive litigation and negotiation experience who speaks Japanese flawlessly and lived in Japan for 16 years. Translation is far from a mechanical process, as illustrated by the wide range of translations of a single Japanese haiku. SHINSHU uses teams of highly skilled Japanese interpreters and translators who have many years of experience interpreting complex legal matters and translating difficult technical materials, including patents, contracts and government documents. In addition, the organization has a wide range of contacts available for technical and specialized needs, both in the United States and Japan.


SHINSHU can enhance the quality of litigation, negotiation and other legal representation involving Japanese parties, witnesses or documents, with particular focus on:

•  Japanese document review and translation for litigation and negotiations

•  Depositions and trial testimony of Japanese parties, witnesses and experts

•  International meetings, cross-cultural communication, and other services


The uncertainties of litigation and negotiation are compounded when Japanese parties, language and culture are involved. Yet American counsel and negotiators generally have much less control or understanding of these important elements than other parts of their practice. SHINSHU offers the cross-cultural resources to enhance the quality of legal representation, while reducing the difficulties and uncertainties of dealing with Japanese parties, documents and witnesses.



SHINSHU assists clients in quickly obtaining the maximum benefit from available Japanese documents. Using review and indexing techniques honed over many years, along with cutting-edge software, documents are handled efficiently and timely English translations of useful documents are provided. Using SHINSHU, Japanese documents can be reviewed and categorized rapidly by a bilingual attorney working with one or more Japanese translators, followed by full written translations of important documents, with certifications provided as needed. Understanding of the technology involved, commitment to accuracy and awareness of the context are as important to SHINSHU translators as their comprehensive knowledge of Japanese and English.


As an attorney, Ms. Seat is able to focus her translators on the relevant issues in the case and ensure an accurate assessment of the need for full written translations. While SHINSHU often works on larger matters, in a typical case Ms. Seat and a team of three Japanese translators generally can review, organize and determine the necessity for translation of 10,000 Japanese business and technical documents in less than two weeks. This method of initial review by a bilingual attorney and Japanese translators provides substantial savings of time (as well as money) compared to abstracting or translating every document, or simply entrusting this critical step to translators who are not legally trained.


SHINSHU often reviews the accuracy of English translations prepared by opposing parties in litigation and other situations requiring a high level of care. Special emphasis is placed on critical language and any necessary changes are noted. Ms. Seat has many years of experience in negotiating with opposing counsel to reach “agreed upon” translations, combining her knowledge of the linguistic issues involved with her awareness of the impact of alternate translations on the legal and factual issues.


Protect Privilege and More


SHINSHU can perform a critical review of Japanese documents which must be produced in discovery, checking for responsiveness, privilege and confidentiality, as well as identifying important documents that will need to be fully translated into English for trial preparation and submission to the U.S. court or tribunal. As in any other case, the disclosure of Japanese documents which are privileged, non-responsive or confidential but not so designated can be devastating. Due to their unfamiliarity with U.S. discovery procedure, some Japanese company lawyers and staff unknowingly allow the production of privileged, non-responsive or undesignated confidential documents, and it is difficult for U.S. attorneys to adequately check the production due to the language barrier.


On the other side, SHINSHU often performs an invaluable review of Japanese documents produced in discovery, checking for responsiveness to document requests and determining from cross-references and information within the documents whether the production has been complete. SHINSHU often can determine within hours whether a production of documents is significantly deficient, rather than the weeks required if the documents must be translated before being reviewed. Moreover, experience reveals that document productions from Japanese parties frequently are inadequate, and that repeated requests and follow-up efforts often are required to obtain complete disclosure.


As illustrated by Hiroaki Sato’s One Hundred Frogs (Weatherhill 1983), a collection of one hundred translations of the famous 17-syllable haiku featured on SHINSHU’s website, translation is not a straightforward process, but requires both knowledge and judgment of the best wording to express the meaning of the document. SHINSHU produces accurate, certified English translations by using excellent Japanese translators in combination with the guidance and final review of a bilingual attorney. Being familiar with the issues in the case, Ms. Seat directs particular attention to key words and phrases so that the desired position is not harmed by an uninformed or arbitrary choice of synonyms and alternative phrases. This type of review cannot be performed adequately by a non-lawyer nor by one who does not fully understand the nuances and subtleties of the Japanese language.


During the review and translation of documents, Ms. Seat fields the translators’ questions, reducing the burden on case attorneys and staff, and clarifies meanings and ambiguities that may be critical to the case. For example, in one case a recurring term in a patent was so new that it was not contained in any available Japanese dictionary. Although the Japanese translator was uncertain of the meaning and proper English translation, Ms. Seat was able to contact a technical expert in Japan to determine the best translation of the new term.



Using interpreters to obtain testimony from Japanese witnesses during depositions or trial reveals the complexities of the Japanese language. Interpretation is a cumbersome and inefficient way of getting information at best. Language and cultural differences can cause a complete breakdown in communication.


Ms. Seat attends depositions and trial in many cases to give immediate assistance when language barriers arise, assist with documents and help in other ways. In ordinary circumstances, she (or other SHINSHU staff) monitors the official interpreters to make sure that questions and answers are satisfactorily interpreted and subtleties are not missed.


Ms. Seat can also assist in the preparation of Japanese witnesses for depositions or trial. Preparation for expected styles and lines of questioning during the deposition or trial is particularly valuable. Since the U.S. legal system is very different from the Japanese system, explaining U.S. legal practices and answering witnesses’ questions in Japanese helps allay concerns and obtain maximum cooperation.


Avoid Problems


SHINSHU can help avoid or minimize interpretation problems by attention to careful wording of questions and by making sure that the meaning is interpreted and understood in Japanese. By using simple, direct phrasing and avoiding all slang, jargon and colloquialisms, questions can more easily be interpreted, understood and answered.


Even seemingly simple questions may run into cultural problems. For example, the common question “Did you prepare this document?” may be misunderstood when interpreted into Japanese. The Japanese witness may honestly say “no,” since he or she may not have physically written the document. The better approach is to ask a series of short questions, such as “Did you write this document?” “Did you provide information to the person who wrote this document?” “Did you authorize the writing of this document?” By reviewing with Ms. Seat – who by then is often familiar with the Japanese documents in the case – the information sought and types of questions planned, the attorney will be assisted in avoiding problems and formulating questions to elicit the information needed from Japanese witnesses.




SHINSHU provides a broad range of legal support and consulting services, in addition to translation and interpretation. Most notable is Ms. Seat’s extensive experience in dealing with discovery disputes involving Japanese parties. After nearly two decades, Ms. Seat has an unparalleled ability to ascertain whether Japanese companies are doing a reasonable job of complying with American evidentiary requirements or need to go deeper. This is extremely valuable, both for law firms representing Japanese clients to stay out of trouble and for firms pursuing Japanese companies to gather all available evidence.


SHINSHU may also be able to assist in the following ways:


  • Assist in traveling to Japan and helping ensure depositions, negotiations and other meetings are successful. Help clients make the most of their free time during visits to Japan as well.
  • Assist in obtaining special visas in order to take depositions in Japan; arrange for depositions in Japan by reserving facilities at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or at U.S. Consulates in other major Japanese cities and scheduling necessary personnel.
  • Explain cultural differences and assist in communication so that intentions, “signals” and other subtleties are not missed. For example, a noteworthy element often lost in interpretation is the degree of politeness expressed, which is clearly conveyed by the form of the Japanese words used.
  • Provide information and guidance on the basics and finer points of Japanese manners and business etiquette, from the Japanese style of exchanging business cards and bowing to the requirements of Japanese–style baths.
  • Provide English speaking contacts for assistance in Tokyo and other cities in Japan.
  • Provide background material on all aspects of Japan, from negotiating styles to customs and history from SHINSHU’s extensive library and resources on Japan.
  • Research or review Japanese websites, documents, books and periodicals for substantive information on key issues.
  • Interpret during telephone calls or meetings with Japanese parties.
  • Provide assistance or recommendations for obtaining comparable services in languages other than Japanese.


SHINSHU has assisted many of the leading law firms in the Washington, D.C. area and around the country. SHINSHU’s work on substantial litigation and other matters often involves companies that are household names in the United States and Japan. A partial list includes:


Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg

Arent Fox

Asahi Glass

Collier, Shannon & Scott

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner

Foley & Lardner

Goodwin, Proctor

Howrey LLP

Irell & Manella

Jackson Walker, LLP

Kenyon & Kenyon

McDermott, Will & Emery

McGuire Woods


Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo


Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell

Mylan Pharmaceuticals


Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt

Patterson & Keough, P.A.

Pillsbury Winthrop


Roche Diagnostics

Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck


Steptoe & Johnson


Wiley, Rein & Fielding  



BRENDA K. SEAT is a bilingual U.S. attorney with extensive litigation and negotiation experience. Ms. Seat developed the concept for SHINSHU in the 1980s while assisting in cases and negotiations involving Japanese parties and evidence. These experiences revealed a clear need for an organization which provides interpretation and translation, plus a broader range of legal support and consulting services dedicated to the special requirements of counsel involved in Japanese litigation and negotiations with Japanese participants.


Through work on federal litigation in courtrooms from New York to Los Angeles and numerous International Trade Commission cases, Ms. Seat has developed a thorough understanding of intellectual property law and trade issues. In addition, Ms. Seat has a deep awareness of the differences in American and Japanese business and negotiating styles and their practical implications.


SHINSHU enhances the quality of litigation and other legal representation involving Japan, and is remarkably cost effective. Overall translation costs are often reduced because of the efficiencies of SHINSHU’s methods of early sorting of documents and established teamwork. Ms. Seat brings together teams of skilled interpreters and translators according to the subject matter and timing requirements of the client. Supervision and review by a bilingual attorney keeps translators focused on the issues, increasing their efficiency and lowering costs, as well as increasing the accuracy and quality of review and translation. Rates are available upon request.


Ms. Seat lived in Japan for 16 years and named SHINSHU after the geographical area of her home near the Japan Alps. SHINSHU has been active on an ongoing basis since 1987.



Located in the Washington, D.C. area, SHINSHU offers unique cross-cultural resources and benefits to enhance the quality of litigation, negotiations and other legal representation involving Japan. Please contact us so that we may explain further how SHINSHU can be of assistance.


                                                              Brenda K. Seat, Esq.





Japanese Language Legal Support and Consulting

Six Whitehall Court, Silver Spring, Maryland 20901


Tel.: 301-593-3980

Fax: 301-681-9243