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Overview

Sara helps clients go global – both from and into the United States.  Her work is concentrated in the Pacific Rim, especially Japan, Canada and China. She helps clients tailor their investments to their specific needs and then helps them wend their way through legal challenges in operating in a foreign legal environment. Clients look to Sara to combine her corporate and commercial law experience, with her cultural awareness from living and working abroad, to assist them with achieving their cross-border business objectives.

Sara works with clients from around the world in all stages of establishing, acquiring and operating businesses across borders. She concentrates her practice on representing Japanese companies and individuals in their business activities in the United States and on advising U.S. clients concerning business activities in Japan, Canada and other Pacific Rim countries. In this U.S. - Japan context, for example, Sara has worked with clients in the formation, implementation and dissolution stages of joint ventures in industries ranging from livestock-exporting to sports equipment to internet entertainment.

She has helped clients create distribution and sales representative arrangements for toys, automotive parts and agricultural products, as well as manufacturers of log homes, software and microchips. Sara has represented high-technology start-up companies, among others, in obtaining and documenting both bank and venture capital financing. Sara has worked with such prominent Japanese companies as NTT DoCoMo, JVC Kenwood Corporation, UCC Ueshima Coffee Co. Ltd. and Sojitsu Corporation of America.

Sara is the Chair for the ABA/Section of International Law. She has also served many years as a leader of Garvey Schubert Barer's International Group and Business Group, and has served as the firm's Seattle Office managing director. Ms. Sandford was the chair of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington in 2002-2003 and has served on the organization's board or in an executive capacity for close to twenty years.

Sara worked with the Japanese law firm of Matsuo & Kosugi in 1982 and again from 1986 to 1988. Having also been a Rotary International exchange student to Japan in high school and having conducted research in Japan during college, she speaks, reads and writes Japanese.

By virtue of her work experience and language ability, Sara is able to explain complex American and Japanese legal concepts and issues in both Japanese and English. Sara combines her corporate and commercial law experience, along with her cultural awareness, to assist clients in developing business strategies that allow foreign clients to transfer necessary personnel to the United States to oversee their investments and projects as well.

Professional Activities

  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2006-present
  • American Bar Association, Rule of Law Initiative, Board Member 2016-2017
  • American Bar Association, Section Officers Conference, Executive Committee and Secretary Class Representative, 2011
  • American Bar Association, Representative to LawAsia, 2016-2019
  • American Bar Association, Section of International Law: Chair, 2016-2017; Chair-Elect, 2015-2016; Vice Chair, 2014-2015; Finance Officer, 2013-2014; Co-Chair, Steering Committee International Legal Exchange to Myanmar & Cambodia, 2014; Executive Committee, 2011-present; Administration Committee, 2010-present; Council Member, 2006-08, 2010-present; Commission on Women in the Profession, Perspectives Editorial Board, 2012-present; Secretary/Operations Officer, 2011-2013; Diversity Officer, 2010; Liaison, Commission on Women in the Profession, 2010-2013; Deputy to Section Chair on Task Forces and Special Projects, 2009; Co-Chair, Leadership Retreat, 2008 and 2010; Washington State Bar Association Liaison, 2008-present; Chair, Business Law Division I, 2008; Chair, Corporate Division, 2007; Chair, Africa/Eurasia Division, 2006; Co-Chair, Asia/Pacific Law Committee, 2004-05; Chair, East Asia and Pacific Law Committee, 2003; International Law News Editorial Board, 2009-2011; Selection Committee for Mayre Rasmussen Award of the Advancement of Women in International Law, 2008-10, Chair 2011-2014
  • Guest Lecturer, Working in Virtual or Cross Cultural Teams, Global Business Forum, University of Washington Foster School of Business, 2014
  • Guest Lecturer, International Business Transactions course, Seattle University School of Law, 2005, 2006 and 2010
  • Guest Lecturer, International Contract Negotiation course, University of Washington School of Law, 2005-2007
  • Major Gifts Campaign Ambassador, Northwest Women's Law Center Member

Community Activities

  • Chair, Japan-America Society for the State of Washington, 2002-2003; Chair-Elect, 2001-2002; Vice President, 2000-2001; Secretary, 1997-1998; Executive Committee Member, 1997-2005 and 2008-2010; Director 1995-1997, 1998-2000; Board Member, 2003-present
  • Member, Advisory Board, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, 2012-present
  • Member, Advisory Board, Global Business Institute, University of Washington School of Law, 2016-present
  • Member, Japanese Business Association, 2008-present
  • Volunteer Attorney, Seattle Opera 1999-present, and Seattle Opera Foundation, 1999-2013
  • Volunteer Attorney, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, 2012-Present
  • Volunteer Attorney, The Tenants Union of Washington State, 2009-2014
  • Volunteer Attorney, Western Rivers Conservancy, 2001-present
  • Volunteer Attorney, River Network, 1993-2001

Blog Posts

News & Insights

News

Speaking Engagements

  • "Surfing the Wave: Maintaining Balance in Legal Ethics," ABA Section of International Law, Americas Forum, Panelist
    Speaking Engagement
    Bogota, Columbia, 11.15.16
  • "Top 7 Legal Concerns When Conducting Business in Japan," JETRO and University of Washington School of Law, Building a Business in Japan, Key Legal & Business Perspectives Program, Speaker
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 11.4.16
  • "Representation of a Foreign Investor:  Do You Need a Local Representative as an Investor?" Union Internationale des Avocats Congress, Panelist
    Speaking Engagement
    Budapest, Hungary, 10.30.16
  • "Key Legal Issues in U.S. Mergers and Acquisitions for European Lawyers," American Bar Association, Section of International Law, 2016 Europe Forum, Panelist
    Speaking Engagement
    Rome, Italy, 5.30.16
  • "Challenges to the Practice of Law," American Bar Association Section of International Law, ILEX, Moderator, Kadir Has University
    Speaking Engagement
    Istanbul, Turkey, 5.26.16
  • "Going Global: How to Expand Overseas without Getting Lost in Translation," Washington State Bar Association, International Practice Section, Panelist
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 5.12.16
  • "Views from the World of Practice: What Attributes and Skills are Needed for Global Practice," University of Washington School of Law International Seminar on Global Education, Panelist
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 12.11.15
  • "Frequently Unanticipated Hazards of U.S. Acquisitions," Korean Bar Association/American Bar Association Conference
    Speaking Engagement
    Seoul, Korea, 11.13.15
  • "The Changing Regulation of the Changing International Legal Profession," ABA Section of International Law Conference
    Speaking Engagement
    Washington, D.C., 4.30.15
  • "Safeguarding Your Business Cross Border: How to Protect Corporate IP, Trade Secrets and Information Systems in a Global Economy," ABA Section of International Law Conference, Panel Co-Chair
    Speaking Engagement
    Washington, D.C., 4.30.15
  • "Best Practices and Legal Risks Surrounding Joint Venture Projects and Strategic Alliances," ABA Section of International Law Asia Forum, Panel Co-Chair and Moderator
    Speaking Engagement
    Tokyo, Japan, 3.2.15
  • "Managing Ethics in the Global Law Firm," ABA Section of International Law Conference
    Speaking Engagement
    Buenos Aires, Argentina, 10.24.14
  • "Negotiating with the Japanese," Guest Lecturer, Working in Virtual or Cross Cultural Teams Curriculum, Global Business Forum, University of Washington Foster School of Business
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 10.13.14
  • Speaking Engagement
    Harborview Campus, NJB Building, Seattle, WA, 7.24.13
  • "Doing Business in Asia," Association of Corporate Counsel
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 6.25.13
  • Speaking Engagement
    Rainier Square Conference Center, Seattle, WA, 4.5.13
  • "The Practitioner’s Guide to Taking Clients Global," International Law: Do’s & Don’ts of Doing Business in Asia, WSBA-CLE Seminar
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 6.21.12
  • "Anatomy of an M&A Deal - Session One: Legal Regimes, Deal Structures and General Legal Considerations," ABA Section of International Law, International M&A and Joint Venture Committee
    Speaking Engagement
    Teleconference, Seattle, WA, 6.19.12
  • "Legal Implications for U.S. Companies Conducting Business in China," The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 4.27.12
  • "Corporate Governance in Family-Owned Enterprises," ABA Section of International Law Conference
    Speaking Engagement
    Dublin, Ireland, 10.13.11
  • "Starting Out with an Ideal and Ending Up with a Deal: The Role of Lawyer as Negotiator," ABA Section of International Law Conference
    Speaking Engagement
    Dublin, Ireland, 10.11.11
  • Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 7.19.11
  • “Negotiating an M&A Deal,” School of the University “LUISS”
    Speaking Engagement
    Rome, Italy, 11.8.10
  • Speaking Engagement
    Paris, France, 11.3.10
  • "You Say Potatoe and I Say Potato: Negotiation of Deals across the Common Law/Civil Law Divide," Spring Meeting, ABA Section of International Law
    Speaking Engagement
    New York, NY, 4.13.10
  • "Understanding Deemed Export Licensing," NTT DoCoMo Legal Department
    Speaking Engagement
    Tokyo, Japan, April 2010
  • "Doing Business in Japan, Choice of Legal Structure & Practical Pointers," Brown Bag Teleconference, Asia /Pacific Committee – ABA Section of International Law
    Speaking Engagement
    2.24.10
  • "Civil Dispute Management," King County Bar Association and Seattle University School of Law
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, 12.4.09
  • "Legal Structures for Export Business," Washington State Export Certification Course, Washington Department of Commerce
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, November 2009
  • "Negotiating & Finalizing the Deal," Strategies for Selecting, Structuring & Managing International Partnerships, World Trade Club – Washington State Bar Association
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, April 2009
  • "International Business Communications," Guest Lecturer, Seikei University
    Speaking Engagement
    Tokyo, Japan, July 2008
  • "ABA Pathways to Employment in International Law," University of Washington School of Law
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, March 2008
  • "Common Legal Issues for Inbound Investors," Foreign Direct Investment: Moving from Theory to Practice – FDI Training for Local Partners, Washington State Department of Community Trade and Economic Development
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, January 2008
  • "International Contract Negotiation," University of Washington School of Law
    Speaking Engagement
    Seattle, WA, January 2007
  • "Market Entry: Strategic Alliance, Licensing, Joint Venture or Investment," Doing Business in Asia, AIJA
    Speaking Engagement
    9.1.06
  • "Teaching and Training Lawyers for Asian Practice: A Paradigm for Future Legal Education?," Fifth Annual Law School Deans/Practitioners Roundtable, ABA Section of International Law
    Seminar
    April 2005
  • "Avoiding Enron and Daiwa Bank: Corporate Compliance in the U.S. and Japan," Garvey Schubert Barer Seminar
    Seminar
    Seattle, WA, March 2005

Admissions

  • California, 1984
  • Oregon, 2015
  • Washington, 1989 
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1984

Education

Columbia University School of Law, J.D., 1984

  • International Fellow, 1982-1983
  • Forrest M. Anderson Scholar, 1982-1983
  • Writing and Research Editor, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law

University of Washington, B.A., Japan Regional Studies, 1980

Honors | Recognitions

  • Listed in Chambers USA as a Recognized Practitioner for Corporate/Commercial (Washington), 2016
  • Named in Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers, 2011-2016
  • Named by peers to The Best Lawyers in America©in the areas of International Trade and Finance Law, 2011-2018
  • Named "Best Lawyers in Washington State" in Seattle Business magazine, 2011-2013
  • Named a "2010 Top Lawyer" for International Trade in Seattle Met magazine, 2010
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV/5.0 Peer Review Rated
  • Profiled, WSBA Bar Bulletin, September 2008
  • ABA Section of International Law Outstanding Volunteer Award, 2006-07
  • Certificate of Achievement for Volunteer Services to The Tenants Union of Washington State, 2011

 

Languages

  • Japanese
  • Conversant Italian
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