After a brief respite we’re pleased to announce the return of the APACC Member Spotlight. Our first new interview is with Oregon native, Mr. Chase Morinaka. Chase is not only an esteemed personal injury and family law practitioner but a stand-up guy and frequenter of APACC workshops. After seeing him at more events than we can remember, we decided it was time to talk with Chase and get to know him a bit better.
Chase, how has being raised in Oregon affected you?
My Japanese-American upbringing in rural Eastern Oregon serves as a constant reminder of the unique challenges faced by minority communities.
It seems like being able to truly empathize via one’s past would help your work.
The experiences help me relate to clients and better appreciate their goals [while] striving to find a balance between preserving cultural heritage and adapting to life in the United States.
Has this persistence and practice helped you to achieve any personal or professional goals?
I have been honored to speak for the Oregon State Bar’s Opportunities in Law in Oregon program [and] I proudly serve on the Board of Directors for the Oregon Minority Lawyers Association. I’ve also spoken at events for different minority communities and for associations looking to reach out and better serve minority communities.
Well congrats on everything you’ve accomplished thus far. Could you delve into what services your practice provides?
My firm provides legal guidance to our clients in difficult domestic relations, immigration, and family business matters. We also handle injury and other general litigation matters.
Do those matters change a bit when you have a self run minority-owned firm?
My goal is to properly understand, translate, and communicate many diverse communities’ point of view. Our firm strives to offer excellent service in international matters corresponding with foreign attorneys and embassies overseas.
How has 2012 been for your business and industry?
The legal community has been affected by the slow economy just like everyone else. My practice has instituted affordable payment plans and accepts credit cards to ease the burden on our clients. We also advise on a limited or flat fee basis for certain matters.
Are these some of the changes you’ve made to adapt to new market standards?
New technology has changed the legal market. One argument is that online services have removed certain legal work from the hands of lawyers. Another argument is that it has made more work for lawyers since many documents are poorly drafted and lead to more litigation.
Have these changes given you new insight?
I have even more respect for the character and professionalism of my colleagues since entering the profession. In all areas of law, I believe most attorneys are advocating not only for their clients but for equality and protection under the law for all of us.
Indeed lawyers represent much more than a single person in court, are they any lessons these kind of things have taught you?
[laughs] Well, I do not think I have or will ever learn anything that people do not already know. I guess I would just add that being reasonable goes a long way towards keeping legal fees and emotions under control.
Would you say that practicing in the Pacific Northwest gives you distinct advantages in your work?
The Pacific Northwest gives me an opportunity to address many diversity issues due to its unique culture when compared to the rest of the country. Oregon is a preferable part of the country for immigrants who have yet to be granted citizenship.
Do you have any philosophies or principles that help guide you?
Mokso. I was raised through Judo and learned that taking time to reflect and review gives us the best chance to learn from our past. I also have a motto and way to hold myself to it, both of which came to me by very close friends. “Always Learn More” and be constantly mindful of your “Learns Per Minute.”
Do you often choose which clients to represent?
In a legal industry, you don’t get a much of choice which clients you can represent. Of course, you can always decline the case, but that would make you appear unprofessional. Everyone is innocent until they are pleaded guilty. I have been in this field for a long time, and I have faced different situations, and different cases, each of them represented a challenged for me. I want to test my boundaries and set up new limits. I respect everyone’s opinion, and if a client requires my services, he shall get them.
Those kinds of adages definitely transcend the boundary of the office.
When faced with difficult decisions I try to remember advice from [yet] another friend: “Gather all the data and the choice becomes clear.”
Let’s steer that towards APACC as we aim to better connect our members – what’s the best way for people meet and make new connections?
There’s [just] no substitute for face-to-face contact. I invite you to join us for one of our many APACC events. Outside of APACC, I urge you to be involved in your community.
Do you have any goals or projects you’re excited about for 2013?
For two years I have been rebuilding my golf swing. I hope to finish the process for the summer of 2013. As far as goals, I like to keep things simple: provide more meaningful help per person to a greater number of people. I am excited to discover how that goal will be accomplished.