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MLaw Dinner in Tokyo Celebrates Global Reach, Longstanding Ties

MLaw Dinner in Tokyo Celebrates Global Reach, Longstanding Ties

By Amy Spooner
June 1, 2016

At the recent Michigan​ Law Alumni & Friends Dinner in Tokyo, alumni happily mingled, albeit with an undercurrent of trepidation—will Professor J.J. White cold-call someone during his keynote address? Although many elements of the Michigan Law experience are timeless, White passed on the opportunity to put his former students on the hot seat.

Alumni spent the evening reminiscing, networking, and hearing updates about the Law School and its global initiatives from Dean Mark West; Theresa Kaiser-Jarvis, the assistant dean for international affairs; and White, '62, the Robert A. Sullivan Professor of Law Emeritus. Three incoming LLM students also joined the gathering, as well as representatives from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which is in its third year of hosting Michigan Law students as interns.

"Our sense of community in Tokyo is so strong because we have common memories of the good times in Ann Arbor—the beautiful campus, rigorous study, and good relationships with faculty and friends—as well as pride in our alma mater. Having Dean West, Assistant Dean Kaiser-Jarvis, and Professor White visit was special because they are the embodiment of our beloved alma mater. They rekindle our memories, and we are eager to hear the current state of the affairs of the Law School," said Yoichiro Yamakawa, MCL '69, who is the president of the U-M Law Japan Alumni Association.

View a photo gallery from the event.

The Michigan Law dinner was held in conjunction with the University of Michigan's Pan-Asia Alumni Reunion, which takes place annually in a different city in Asia. This year's gathering in Tokyo was organized by an alumni leadership council that included Kazuma Higuchi, LLM '07, and Taro Tsunoda, LLM '01. Panel discussions during the two-day reunion featured faculty and administrators from the College of Engineering, the Ross School of Business, and the School of Public Health. Dean West, a noted Japanese legal scholar, joined with Andrew Martin, dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; and Martin Philbert, dean of the School of Public Health, to present a panel discussion of courts in the United States and Japan.

"The roots of Michigan's strength as a global law school lie in Japan, and I am proud of the rich history between Japan and the Law Quad," said Dean West, who also is the Nippon Life Professor of Law. "Like so many students from around the world, Japanese scholars are drawn to the prestige and tradition of Michigan Law, and then they return home to put their training to use in many important ways. It's always energizing to meet with alumni worldwide to see the professional heights they've achieved and the esteem in which they continue to hold the Law School."

The first two Japanese students graduated in the Michigan Law Class of 1878, and two of the first six students to receive the LLM degree were Japanese. Today, the Law School boasts more than 200 alumni currently living in Japan and nearly 1,500 living outside the United States.

Professor White offered remarks to the group and also posed for numerous selfies with his former students, which he estimated to be about half of the alumni in attendance. "I'm always happy if a student remembers my class fondly," he said, "and it's delightful to see what a great affinity people have for the Law School."

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