Despite an ocean between them, UC Law San Francisco has for decades maintained a special relationship with the state of Hawai’i, thanks to historic ties and a strong alumni community.
The close ties go back to the 1950s when UC Law San Francisco offered in-state tuition to Hawai’i residents, making it the first choice for many aspiring lawyers from the state. There was no law school in Hawai’i at the time.
“UC Law San Francisco was our law school back then,” said Constance Lau ’77. “We had a strong Hawai’i student group, and we used to get together all the time at friends’ houses, eat local foods (something Hawai’i kids love to do), and support each other.”
One of the most prominent members of the Hawai’i alumni community, Lau served as CEO of one of the state’s biggest corporations, Hawaiian Electric Industries, from 2006 until her retirement last year. “I always appreciate having the legal background, in particular the principle of relevancy, which can help sort through tons of information quickly in this information age, and the discipline of legal research and analysis of complex fact patterns has been crucial to my success in the business world,” she said.
Thanks to this special relationship, UC Law SF graduates have filled some of the most important roles in the Aloha State, working as attorneys at big firms, leading major corporations, and serving as judges and elected officials. Edward Case ’81 currently serves as one of Hawai’i’s two U.S. representatives in Congress, and Paula Nakayama ’78 became the first woman appointed to the Hawai’i Supreme Court in 1993.
Though the University of Hawai’i opened its own law school in the 1970s and the in-state tuition policy ended at UC Law SF, the connection between the two places remains strong. A dedicated network of alumni keeps the UC Law spirit alive. George Hetherington ’78, a name partner at the firm Yamamoto Caliboso Hetherington, and his wife Cheryl Hetherington ’79 helped spearhead the creation of a new Hawai’i Scholarship for UC Law SF students, which started awarding financial support to students from Hawai’i in 2017.
“The goal is to have an endowment fund that will continue to provide monetary scholarships for prospective students from Hawai’i that want to go to UC Law San Francisco,” Cheryl Hetherington said.
This past fall, about 150 alumni and guests gathered at the Oahu Country Club for an annual gala to help raise money for the scholarship and recognize outstanding members of the alumni community. The ceremony, attended by UC Law SF Chancellor and Dean David Faigman, honored Crystal Rose ’82, founding partner of the law firm Bays Lung Rose Holma, and Ann Teranishi ’99, president and CEO of American Savings Bank.
“It is always a great privilege to spend time with our impressive alumni community in Hawai’i,” Faigman said. “They have long been strong supporters of UC Law and we are all incredibly proud of their considerable professional accomplishments.”
UC Law SF Chief Development Officer Eric Dumbleton added, “The Hawai’i Gala is always a highly anticipated event and has become a wonderful tradition. This is a testament to the strength, commitment, and dedication of the UC Law community there. We are excited to build on this tradition in the years ahead.”
Alan Oshima ’76, former president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, was honored at a previous gala in 2019 and co-chaired the one held this past fall. He said the gala gives alumni a chance to reconnect, have fun, and recognize the contributions of peers, “Many UC Law SF grads help make things better every day. All need to be recognized for their dedication in applying their legal education to make society work for all.”
The Hetheringtons said they are pleased that members of a younger generation of alumni, including Dan Vermillion ’09, are now picking up the torch and helping to organize alumni events in Hawai’i. Vermillion, a partner at the firm Cades Schutte, co-chaired and served as emcee of the fall gala.
Vermillion said he thinks it’s important to maintain strong ties with fellow law school grads and support the scholarship fund for future Hawai’i students. “If we can lessen the financial burden for Hawai’i law students, it’s great because then we continue that legacy and allow UC Law San Francisco to continue to be well represented in Hawai’i.”