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
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.
can enhance the quality of litigation, negotiation and other legal
representation involving Japanese parties, witnesses or documents,
with particular focus on:
document review and translation for litigation and negotiations
and trial testimony of Japanese parties, witnesses and experts
meetings, cross-cultural communication, and other services
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
REVIEW AND TRANSLATION
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
AND PREPARATION OF WITNESSES
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
may also be able to assist in the following ways:
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.
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.
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.
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
English speaking contacts for assistance in Tokyo and other
cities in Japan.
background material on all aspects of Japan, from negotiating
styles to customs and history from SHINSHU’s extensive
library and resources on Japan.
or review Japanese websites, documents, books and periodicals
for substantive information on key issues.
during telephone calls or meetings with Japanese parties.
assistance or recommendations for obtaining comparable services
in languages other than Japanese.
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
Mastriani & Schaumberg
Shannon & Scott
Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner
Will & Emery
Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo
Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell
Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt
& Keough, P.A.
Figg, Ernst & Manbeck
Rein & Fielding
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Language Legal Support and Consulting
Silver Spring, Maryland 20901