How to Prepare for a Deposition with a Japanese-Speaking Client

Many Japanese people are taught from an early age about the English language. They learn about English grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Even the best language books, however,  cannot prepare a second language speaker for a different culture or legal system. When preparing a Japanese-speaking client for a deposition, remember that your client may have a high level of English language proficiency. Their understanding of Western culture, however, may not be as complete. Provide your Japanese-speaking client with information about what to expect and they will feel more comfortable with the foreign legal process.

Once the deposition [PDF] has been arranged, you should take time to consider the differences between the American and Japanese legal systems. By understanding the differences, you will be prepared to answer any questions your Japanese-speaking client may have. The United States is a common law system, giving judicial opinions dominant authority. Japan’s legal system is more based on civil law, meaning decisions are determined by codified laws.

Lawyers hold contrasting significance in both countries. Japan has only 1 lawyer for every 4,000 citizens, in comparison to 1 for every 250 in America. Lawsuits are much less common in Japan due to cultural norms; as a result, lawyers do not have such a large role in court proceedings. A Japanese-speaking client will not be aware of the expanded role lawyers have in the U.S. legal system. Let your client know that in America, depositions are conducted by a client’s lawyer

Oral arguments and statements are valued over written ones in the United States. This is in direct contrast to the written briefs common in Japan.  Explain to your client that a deposition is given orally and they will be expected to do likewise. Even if your client has English language skills, they may feel uncomfortable testifying in English, in which case a well-trained interpreter may help ease some of the pressure to competently communicate.

By providing an overview of the U.S. legal system, your client will feel more comfortable with the process.  If your client knows what to expect from the American legal system, the deposition will go much more smoothly.

How do you accommodate your Japanese-speaking clients who are unfamiliar with the legal system in the United States? Let us know your thoughts in the comments?



Nisar, the dynamic force behind Translation Excellence, stands tall as its founder and CEO. This isn’t just any company—it’s a global heavyweight in boutique language services. Hailing from the vibrant city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nisar brought his passion and expertise to the U.S. shores in 2001. In the realm of languages, he’s a titan. With 19 years under his belt, he’s worn hats from a linguist and instructor to a cultural bridge-builder and curriculum craftsman.

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