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Distinguished Alumni Award


The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes extraordinary alumni whose achievements exemplify the values and ethos of the University of Michigan Law School. Presented annually to one or more deserving alumni, the award is intended to highlight individuals who have made an exceptional impact on their profession, community, and/or Michigan Law.


Watch the 2015 ceremony


2015 Recipients


Thomas E. Kauper, '60


Thomas E. Kauper is the Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law Emeritus. He joined the Law School’s faculty in 1964.

Professor Kauper is an antitrust expert who, in recent years, has focused on international antitrust and competition policy of the European Union. He has twice served in ranking positions with the U.S. Department of Justice, first as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel and then as assistant attorney general in charge of the Antitrust Division, the chief enforcement officer in that field. In these positions, he worked on matters ranging from executive power and treaty obligations to the application of American antitrust laws to international transactions and conduct abroad.

He also served for 14 years as a member of the American Bar Association Council of the Antitrust Section and for one year served as vice-chairman of the Section. Professor Kauper spent the winter 2002 semester as the John M. Olin Visiting Professor of Business, Economics, and Law at Harvard Law School. He has written in the fields of property and antitrust, and is coauthor of Property: An Introduction to the Concept and the Institution.

He earned both his AB and JD degrees from the University of Michigan. At the Law School he was editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review, a member of Order of the Coif, and the recipient of the Henry M. Bates Award, considered the highest student award at the School. Following a clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, he practiced law in Chicago before beginning his academic career at the Law School.


Yoichiro Yamakawa, MCL '69

Yoichiro Yamakawa is a partner in the Tokyo firm of Koga & Partners. He sat on the boards of Mitsui Sumitomo Financial Group and Daiichi Mutual Life Insurance Company until June 2009, and Renesas Electronics Corporation until June 2014; Yamakawa now serves on the boards of Nisshin Steel Co. Ltd. and Daio Paper Corporation.
His areas of practice include First Amendment-related issues, general corporate work, and international transactions and litigation. He has represented major media in some of Japan’s most high-profile First Amendment cases, including Mainichi’s Okinawa secret telegram case and NHK’s newsmen’s privilege case.
During the 1991-1992 academic year, he was a visiting professor at Michigan Law, teaching Freedom of Speech in the U.S. and Japan with then-Dean Lee Bollinger.
Yamakawa has written widely on constitutional litigation and freedom of expression, and on issues related to defamation and privacy. He also has translated into Japanese both Archibold Cox’s The Warren Court and Joseph Sax’s Defending the Environment.
He holds a bachelor of law degree from the University of Tokyo. Yamakawa currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Law School. He is married to Chieko Yamakawa, and they have two daughters, Maiko and Emi. Maiko studied for one year in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan.