Board Certified, Estate Planning and Probate Law - Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Av Preeminent rated, Martindale Hubbell
In general, when multiple parties create a certain relationship between them such as business, marital, fiduciary, or any other relationship, initially they tend to focus on positive aspects each party can ultimately bring for achieving the common goal and benefiting each party. When multiple parties come together to pursue a common goal, however, there is a natural tendency for potential conflicts to arise between them due to the differences in expectations of the parties. Additionally, if something unexpected occurs, each party tries to resolve it by relying on the methods with which they are familiar.
This is where the differences in expectations of the parties become the controlling factor for resolving issues between them. If the expectations of the parties are significantly different, they will amplify the magnitude of dispute and make the dispute more difficult to resolve.
Imagine what happens when two fundamentally distinct societies collide with each other in a U.S./Japan transnational environment. The law is the mechanism to resolve issues in U.S. However, the legal system is not dominant force to resolve issues in Japan. The intricate society itself, evolved for 2,000 years or so, is the dominant force to take care of "things" without relying on the legal system. Two fundamentally distinct societies yield different expectations. Thus, when the two sides meet together, a "meeting of minds" is often difficult to achieve.
So, if you are not in your home country, the chances are you are going to encounter obstacles which you have not even thought about. For example, I often hear some Japanese says that America is supposed to be a free country, but there are so many rules, regulations, and laws that are so complicated and restrictive in many aspects of society than in Japan. Meanwhile I hear some Americans says that there are many "hidden rules," often obscure to outsiders, that are completely contradictory of what the Americans are accustomed to.
As a Japanese national and an attorney licensed in the State of Texas, the challenge in my law practice is to assist clients, the Americans or the Japanese, in understanding of the totally unfamiliar concepts and customary practices to deal with issues within a legal context. Additionally, I assist my clients in understanding of the interactions of the U.S. legal system and the Japanese legal system as well as the application of such to their particular situation. I do understand, however, that this is a very huge loop for anybody regardless of being an American, a Japanese, or otherwise.
If you are about to enter into a contract, getting married, accepting a role of fiduciary, or any other incident where "U.S. meets Japan", be aware that you are in a legal environment. Chances are your expectation is quite different from your partner's. And remember: consequences, legal or otherwise, are often unintended.