By Peter Yagel, Region Legal Service Office Japan
Vice Adm. James W. Crawford personally congratulated Ms. Kazumi Takahara for passing the California Bar on June 20, 2017.
Takahara has been a valued employee of the Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Japan for 15 years, and has provided invaluable guidance to the Legal Assistance department regarding immigration, naturalization, and Japanese law.
“Takahara-san is absolutely essential to our team,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brandi Orton, the Department Head of Legal Assistance. “She has trained every attorney that comes through Legal Assistance, including every Department Head. She selflessly gives her time and talents to ensure our success. Without her expertise and hard work, we would not be able to support the forward deployed sailors and their families the way we do.”
Takahara was selected as the Naval Legal Service Command Civilian of the Year in 2012 and the following year she set herself the even more ambitious goal of passing the California State Bar Exam.
The California Bar Exam is arguably the most difficult in the country, spanning three days and boasting painfully low passage rates. In 2015, fewer than 40% passed the February Exam, and in 2016 only 36% passed. With such a difficult test, it is no surprise that many applicants take it multiple times. For those like Takahara, who are not native English-speakers, it borders on impossible. While many give up, Takahara refused to quit. She took the exam four times, and said that she would continue trying until she passed.
Her determination was infectious, and her co-workers saw her dedication and helped her prepare. Lt. j.g. Peter Berg, Legal Assistance department, spent hours giving her personal tutoring and coaching her on how to improve her essays. Jennifer Bacon, a civilian paralegal who works for RLSO Japan, provided emotional support. “Takahara-san worked so hard preparing and studied so much, but it’s such a difficult test that she didn’t pass last time, and was really disappointed,” said Bacon. “I wrote her a note telling her how much we love her and support her, and she took the note to California with her, saying it encouraged her to have it with her.”
A mere 35% of applicants passed the California bar exam in February 2017. With the help and support of her friends and co-workers, Takahara was one of them.
Ever humble, Takahara gave credit to the RLSO community for their care and support. “Not all employers would encourage someone to do this. I had to take time off to study and travel to California to take the exam. Some employers would discourage that, but the RLSO has always given me complete support. My coworkers encouraged me and actively helped me prepare for the exam, and I couldn’t have done it without them.” Her relentless pursuit of her dreams inspires everyone she works with, and Crawford gave her a command coin in recognition of her amazing accomplishment.