Yuko Ozaki ’09 LL.M. came to Columbia Law School to make the transition from a business to a legal career. She had majored in law as an undergraduate at Sophia University in Tokyo but veered toward finance after taking several business classes at the University of Pennsylvania through an exchange program.
Ozaki joined the legal division of an electronics company in Tokyo, where she worked on a spin-off and IPO transaction, before becoming an investment banker at Merrill Lynch’s Tokyo office. For five years, Ozaki helped Japanese companies raise capital and navigate mergers and acquisitions. Her client-side experience and legal education helped differentiate her from other bankers, she says.
“Japanese companies have become more global, and there is a greater need to understand U.S. law,” Ozaki says. She decided to pursue an LL.M. to gain the expertise to better assist Japanese companies access U.S. markets. Columbia’s strong alumni network made the school particularly attractive to her. “Many of the top lawyers in Japan have also done this LL.M. program,” she says.
Ozaki took Securities & Capital Markets and Corporations with Professor John Coffee, whose textbook she had consulted often while working with Japanese clients. And in the Negotiations Workshop, she valued simulating the role of counsel in resolving business disputes—“a good transition to lawyering,” she says.
Ozaki took advantage of the Law School’s location to intern for a semester at the New York Regional Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission. She was eager to get an insider’s perspective during a pivotal time in the world’s financial history.
After graduation Ozaki returns to Tokyo to Sullivan & Cromwell’s corporate department, the perfect place for her to continue the kind of client caretaking she enjoyed practicing as an investment banker. “My clients want expert advice, support, and knowledge. With my legal and financial background, I hope to give them that.”