“What it means for adult students to learn in a graduate school of law”
Master of Laws (2012)
K.H. currently works at a life insurance company.
I entered the graduate school of Hitotsubashi University through a special admission program for adult students seeking a master’s degree. After graduating from university, I worked for a life insurance company for about ten years. Then, I heard that the civil law of Japan would be revised, which fanned my desire to go back to school to study civil law and the impact that the revision would have on life insurance companies. I decided to apply for admission to the Graduate School of Law at Hitotsubashi University. One of the reasons I chose Hitotsubashi University was that there was a professor from the Hitotsubashi Graduate School of Law among the members of the Civil Law (law of obligations) Subcommittee in the Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice, where the revision of the civil law was deliberated.
In graduate school, we studied subjects more deeply centering on those in our own specialized field. In particular, the classes and seminars offered by Hitotsubashi University are small to promote a highly concentrated education. For example, in one of the seminar classes I took, there were more faculty members than students (seven faculty members for four graduate students). On the other hand, there were classes given in collaboration with the Faculty of Law. Since graduate students are allowed to take undergraduate courses, students who are unsure about whether they can keep up with the classes in graduate school due to the long lapse of time after graduation from university can relearn the basics. I brushed up my knowledge from university by taking undergraduate courses, such as Law of Civil Procedure, in addition to Civil Law, which is my major.
What is the significance of adult students’ learning at graduate school (graduate school of law)? Graduate schools of law do not provide specific means to become legal professionals as law schools do. Some of the graduate students become researchers and others return to their old places of work. Reflecting upon my two years in the master’s program, I realize that the greatest significance for adult students to learn at graduate school is the opportunity to look at one’s own position and the environment surrounding companies again from the outside, away from their workplaces and companies. My supervisor often told me that my views were skewed too far toward the viewpoint of insurance companies and that since my idea from the perspective of operations at insurance companies is not persuasive enough, I need to support it with some solid theories. I thought I was expressing objective views, but I was governed by the conventional wisdom of life insurance companies. At the Hitotsubashi Graduate School of Law, I learned to see my position objectively and my company from the outside. I believe that this experience will serve as a valuable asset in building my future career.