A Legacy

The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, William S. Richardson School of Law boasts an outstanding Pacific-Asian Legal Studies Program (PALS) with renowned full-time Faculty specialists in every area of East Asia, including Japan, China, and Korea. The program prepares students for future professional engagement with Asian lawyers and clients. We empower students to practice in this rapidly developing area of the world by equipping them with requisite knowledge and experience through concentrated study across the fields of both public and private law. These endeavors – a key component of the Law School’s mission from its founding – are now sewn into our institutional fabric through the PALS Certificate, which provides a panoramic range of course offerings, coupled with diverse opportunities in extracurricular activities, internships and externships, and academic exchanges with leading scholars and premier universities in the region.

The centrality of Japanese law to our program is reinforced by the annual stream of incoming J.D. and LL.M. students who arrive each summer with background experience and interest in Japan.

“Often five to ten percent of our incoming J.D.’s have substantial backgrounds and interest in Japan. Taking into account the size of our program, we surely maintain a larger percentage of Japan-interested students than any other law school in the United States.”

Mark Levin, Professor of Law, Japanese Law Expert

Their passion for learning about Japan produces graduates who focus their careers and lives around the country. Nonetheless, we now face serious challenges recruiting students due to rising tuition costs and increasing competition from mainland programs. Therefore we hope to partner with our alumni and friends to fund the William S. Richardson School of Law Japan-Focused Student Endowment Initiative. Income from this new scholarship fund will be used to attract and retain the brightest and most talented students with strong interests in Japan.

The Japan-Focused Student Endowment Initiative

As Richardson’s 40th anniversary year approaches, Japanese law permeates the PALS Program with outstanding teaching and scholarly production, student activities, and alumni achievements. Featuring annual course offerings from full-time faculty and an impressive list of visitors, Richardson offers students the opportunity to learn about Japan from leading experts in rigorous and personalized classroom settings. Extra-curricular activities, such as our Pacific Asian Law Student Organization and the Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal, generate a rich environment for peer-to-peer-learning.

The proposed Scholarship Endowment for Japan-Focused Students will build sustainability into our goal of maintaining a critical mass of talented students who will be able to take Japan-related classes, lead student organizations, and go on to successful careers with Japan oriented legal knowledge and understanding.

The Michiko and Kaoru Kashiwagi Japanese Studies Endowment demonstrates the transformative power of endowment funding. Dr. and Mrs. Kashiwagi’s generosity made possible much of what we have achieved in our Japanese law program to date. Even when other resources were limited, income from the Kashiwagi Endowment for Japanese Law Studies made possible Professor Mark Levin’s groundbreaking legal research on Japan over the past 15 years, built our library collection of Japanese law-related books and funded summers in Japan for many Richardson students. In recent years, however, as tuition costs have risen, summer awards from the Kashiwagi Fund have been redirected to cover a portion of one student’s regular tuition. Thus, the current initiative for a Scholarship Endowment for Japan-Focused Students complements the Kashiwagi gift by allowing us to recommit funds to the Kashiwagi Fund’s earlier contribution in providing students with much-needed funding to support summer work and study abroad opportunities in Japan.

A scholarship fu
nd for Japan-interested students can make WSRSL more appealing to potential applicants. This should help raise the national and international profile of the school by increasing the pool of quality applicants who will become successful future alumni. This scholarship would allow students to shift limited resources away from tuition and towards summers in Japan for increased opportunity to make lasting connections important in laterJapan-oriented careers.”

Adair Fincher

WSRSL Class of 2013, Former President, Pacific Asian Law Student Organization (2011 – 12); Co-Editor in Chief, Asian Pacific Law & Policy Journal (2012 – 13).                                                                                                           

We are also discussing start-up funding with support from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Center for Japanese Studies Endowment (CJSE). Pending final approval, the proposed seed money aims to leverage on-campus support by immediately making available scholarship awards for an initial three to five year period. Therefore, contributions to our new Scholarship Fund can go directly to the endowment principal as permanent gifts to the program. As the endowment principal rises to generate sufficient income to cover annual scholarship awards, CJSE bridge support will then be released for other Japan-related research and scholarship funding needs on the Mānoa campus.

Looking To The Future

Japanese law is, of course, only a component of the our broader focus on Pacific and Asian Legal Studies. With the recent hiring of Korean Law expert, Associate Professor Tae-Ung Baik, we are now the only law school in the United States with a complete complement of full-time specialists in Japan, China, and Korea. Moreover, the interest in East Asia is extraordinarily diffuse within our scholarly community. At least half our full-time faculty members specialize or have conducted serious research with East Asian elements; nearly all faculty members have spent time and have professional ties there. Within this unique academic setting, we see the new Scholarship Endowment for Japan-Focused Students as a model for Richardson’s future. We hope to use this template for China and Korea-focused student scholarship funds – thus fortifying our leadership in supporting the needs of great students who seek careers all around East Asia.

Astounding things happen when great pioneers join together to affect visionary goals. In the pioneering spirit of our namesake, Chief Justice Richardson, the Law School seeks to forge a new and distinctive path across frontiers of law particularly important to our region, specifically Pacific and Asian law. We have become an internationally-recognized leader in scholarship in this realm, attracting some of the world’s brightest faculty, visiting scholars, and students. Our collective intellects, interests, and experiences across the region transcend national boundaries and traditional social and cultural divides, thereby creating a deeper understanding of the law.

As Richardson marks its 40th anniversary in 2013, we are at a critical juncture to maintain the PALS program; Richardson must now compete one-on-one with other schools aggressively following our lead in Pacific and Asian studies to maintain the exceptional caliber of students we have been able to recruit in the past. A significant way to keep our competitive edge is by providing scholarships to the most promising students. We are counting on the extraordinary people who have gone before – our alumni and friends – to provide the partnership and support to make that possible.

Sam & Helen Piesner Endowed Scholarship for Japanese Legal Studies

As part of this effort, Eric Piesner ’92 and his wife Rae have pledged $50,000 to establish the Sam and Helen Piesner Endowed Scholarship for Japanese Legal Studies to assist students enrolled at the Law School.

Eric Piesner is Managing Partner of Morrison & Foerster’s Singapore office and Firmwide Managing Partner with responsibility for Asia. He heads the firm’s market-leading Asia real estate practice.

As Dean Aviam Soifer said, “We are so grateful to the Piesners for their generosity and leadership in establishing this important endowment. Our Japanese Law Program has become a valuable launching platform for students interested in Pacific Asian Law with Japan at the center of their focus, and many of our alumni are now enjoying meaningful careers throughout Asia.
We hope that other Law School alumni join the effort so we can keep enhancing our ability to attract the most promising law students to study Pacific and Asian Legal Studies at the William S. Richardson School of Law.”

For More Information

For more information about the William S. Richardson School of Law Student-Focused Endowment Initiative, including how to give your gift today, please contact:

University of Hawai‘i Foundation

William S. Richardson School of Law


1 (808) 956-8849


Japanese LLM Students At Graduation

Dr. Kashiwagi Receiving Honorary Degree