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Kyle and Cherrill Kawakami

Kyle, JD '86, and Cherrill Kawakami have created a charitable remainder unitrust at Stanford.

A Lifetime Gift for Legal Education

Cherrill and Kyle Kawakami, JD '86, make a planned gift to support law scholarships

Spring 2015

Kyle Kawakami began contributing to Stanford Law School some 25 years ago to express gratitude for the scholarship he received during his time at the school. Over the years, he has dedicated both time and resources through annual gifts to the Law Fund and by recently joining the law school's Board of Visitors.

"I know that financial aid has to come from somewhere," he says, pointing to the gap between how much a Stanford Law education costs and how much tuition covers. "You've got to pay it forward and give back."

When he and his wife, Cherrill, had stock that appreciated greatly, they saw an opportunity to make an even longer-term impact. Last year, they decided to create a charitable remainder unitrust to benefit the law school.

Charitable remainder unitrusts provide designated beneficiaries, often the donors, a fixed percentage of the value of the trust assets each year for life or a term of years—with the remainder going to a charity in the future. In this instance, the remaining assets will establish the Kyle and Cherrill Kawakami Law School Fund to support future law students.

A unitrust can offer significant tax advantages, including a charitable income tax deduction at the time the gift is made. Trustees also can sell appreciated assets without incurring capital gains tax at the time of sale. At Stanford, many charitable remainder unitrusts are invested with the endowment.

"The ability to invest side by side with Stanford's endowment is a big factor," Kawakami says. He sees this as an excellent opportunity to help take care of his family, which includes daughters Madison, '11, and Taylor. "But at the end of the day, we made this gift to make a lasting contribution to the law school."

Kyle and Cherrill plan to designate the trust's remaining principal for a law scholarship fund, a gift that will allow Stanford Law School to continue recruiting the most promising students from diverse backgrounds.

Ode to Classmates

Today Kawakami is a partner in the Newport Beach office of Irell & Manella LLP, where he practices corporate law—doing everything from mergers and acquisitions, to real estate financing, to corporate environmental work. "I'm kind of a jack of all trades," he says.

His enthusiasm for Stanford Law School has been an asset for the Class of 1986. While serving on his reunion committee for multiple cycles, he has seen the class set records for reunion attendance.

The Class of 1986 may be especially tight-knit. Nearly three decades after graduation, Kawakami says many of his peers continue to stay in touch as often as busy schedules and geographic distance allow. He should know. As the class correspondent for Stanford Lawyer magazine, he receives professional and personal updates from alumni in his graduating class for the "Classmates" column.

Kawakami recalls that his interactions with classmates influenced his law career as much as the coursework. He hopes this gift will foster that experience in future law classes.

When legal scholars from all walks of life come together, he says, "Students learn not just what's in the books, but what's in life."

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