HLSJudge Kenji Nakada, LL.M. ’14, describes the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic in a short phrase; “one eye-witness is better than many hearsays,” he said.

Prior to his enrollment in Harvard Law School’s LL.M. Program, Judge Kenji Nakada served in the Tokyo District Court in Japan. He came to HLS to research the U.S. judicial system. “I believe that in order to improve the judicial system in Japan, it is useful to examine and analyze it from a comparative perspective,” he said. At HLS, he enrolled in Civil Procedure and Introduction to American Law. “It was a great opportunity for me to learn about the U.S. legal system in an organized and coherent way,” he said.

What really enriched his learning experience was his time in the Judicial Process Clinic, headed by Hon. John C. Cratsley (Ret.). Through the clinic, students are placed with individual judges in state and federal courts, where they gain experience in the courtroom while researching and writing about many different areas of the law.

Judge Nakada was placed with Hon. Michael J. Coyne of the Boston Municipal Court, and worked with him once or twice a week for an entire semester. Reflecting on the differences between the U.S. and Japanese judicial system, he said: “I noticed several interesting features. Thanks to the great experience in the clinical program, I feel that I can now evaluate the differences between the two systems fairly,” he said.

Judge Cratsley emphasized the value of having foreign judges participating in the Judicial Process clinic. “This year we had three judges in the clinic, two from Japan and one from Korea,” he said. “Judge Nakada’s experience is typical as each of our visitors finds key points of comparison. As a result of both their courtroom and class experience each takes home new ideas and, in turn, offers us valuable insights from their own judicial systems.”