Nozomi (Zoe) Smith Lawyer and Cofounder, Nakano Smith Law Group

What’s your background?


I was born and raised in Fukuoka, and then moved to Tokyo for my undergraduate program. After completing my law degrees at Chuo University, I attended the University of Toronto Law School for my master’s program. I decided to become a lawyer in Canada and went back to the University of Toronto to complete an undergraduate law degree. I became a lawyer in Ontario in 2010. In 2021, I co-founded a law firm, the Nakano Smith Law Group, in Oakville, Ontario.  


How and why did you end up in the legal field?


I started thinking about becoming a lawyer when I was a junior high school student, because as a lawyer I could help people through challenging situations. I also wanted to study abroad one day and had to work on my English. Eventually, I combined my two goals by studying at a law school in Canada and learned about the many career options in law after studying at the University of Toronto. When I went to live in Canada, I decided to become a lawyer in Ontario. I’ve been practicing wills and estates law exclusively for over a decade now. It’s rewarding to help many families achieve peace of mind or guide them through a difficult time. 


What are your specialities?


My legal practice focuses on estate planning and administration in Ontario, such as the preparation of wills, powers of attorney, and trusts, carrying out the probate process, and assisting with the administration of estates. As one of the few Japanese-speaking lawyers practicing in Ontario, I have extensive experience dealing with Canada-Japan estate planning and administration issues, especially in cases in which the location of the deceased’s residence, beneficiaries, next-of-kin or assets are in one or both countries. Since I understand both legal systems, cultures and languages, I can bridge the gap in resolving the issues that arise between the two countries. 


How did you develop your connection to Canada?


I met Canadian law students and professors through research programs and conferences as a university student in Japan. I also heard about the quality education that Canadian universities offer, which is why I decided to apply to Canadian law schools. My connection to Canada is now also personal, since I’m married to a Canadian and raising my children in Canada, so I’m developing a Canada-Japan relationship at the personal and professional levels every day. I’d like to continue to contribute to the relationship of these two countries.  


What would you like people to know about what you do?


Dealing with your loved one’s incapacity or death in one country is complicated and stressful. When you add the different languages and legal systems, it’s another layer of complexity and stress. I’m happy to help people navigate the legal process on the Canadian side (Ontario) when an estate has a connection between Canada and Japan. I regularly liaise with lawyers and accountants in Japan who assist my clients on the Japanese side. Please feel free to reach out to me if there is any assistance I can provide with estate planning or administration issues in Canada or Japan. 


How do you spend your time when you’re not working?


I spend my time with my family. I’m normally busy with my children’s soccer games and other extracurricular activities. I love cooking and trying out new recipes and food from different cultures. I also enjoy fitness and swimming. 


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