05/01/2006

Graduation Luau was a Blast – Over 180 Alumni, Students and Guests Attend.

Thanks to the hard work of Co-chair Malia Schreck ’05 and Co-chair/Emcee Ming Chi ‘05, the Law School’s Class of 2006 got a big sendoff, as they head toward finals and their May 15th graduation. Over 180 alumni, students, faculty and guests joined in the festivities of the Class’s graduation luau at Bishop Museum’s Atherton Halau.

Lieutenant Governor James “Duke” Aiona congratulated the Class on its achievements and refleced over the 25 years since he graduated from the Law School in 1981. The Lt. Governor reminded the graduates of the importance of maintaining balance in their lives after law school, especially by making and maintaining strong relationships. He also stressed the importance of alumni giving back to their communities, whether through careers in public service, pro bono work or work with nonprofit organizations.

The Class of 2006’s faculty speaker was Prof. Justin Levinson, who reflected on the strength and cohesiveness of the graduating class, beginning: “When I think about the Class of 2006, I think of a class that didn’t simply come to law school to earn credentials and about a unique and diverse group of individuals that came to law school to influence people’s lives.” He related a number of ways in which the Class of ’06 has touched him and some of the things he and other faculty members learned from the Class, including that: (1) A great law school is not defined by the institution, or even by its professors, but it is defined and redefined by its students; (2) It is possible for student energy to permeate even the walls of our Law School’s quiet faculty hallway; and (3) Most importantly, the mission of the Richardson Law School is not just something written in a booklet or on a website, it’s living, meaningful, and continues to grow even stronger.

Mahalo to Mark Tarone ‘00, who kept the music flowing throughout the event; 3Ls Levi Hookano and Miki Kurokawa for their Class Video; Amy Ono Wiecking ’00 and Jamee Kunichika from the Law School; and all those who donated or bid on silent auction items. Mahalo also to the many law student volunteers who helped the event to run smoothly.

Pau Hana Annual Meeting -- 5:00 p.m. Friday, June 16 Downtown.

All alumni--Come to the Association’s 2006 annual meeting at 5:00 p.m. Friday, June 16, 2006 in Downtown Honolulu. See the attached flier for location and other details. To add an item to the agenda, contact any WSRSLAA Officer, or email us at lawalum@hawaii.edu.

After our brief meeting (i.e. pau by 5:30 p.m.), join us for our Second Annual Wine Tasting Event (see related story below).

The 2006 Meeting Agenda follows:

1. Call to Order
2. Approval of 2005 Annual Meeting Minutes
3. President’s Report
4. Treasurer’s Report
5. Dean’s Report
6. Old Business
7. New Business
8. Election Results
9. Adjournment

Second Annual Wine Tasting Downtown from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 16.

Whether you can attend our annual meeting or not, please join the Association for its Second Annual Wine Tasting Event beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 16 in downtown Honolulu. See the attached flier for exact location and other details.

Alumni Assn. Seeks Volunteers to Help Build a Home with Habitat for Humanity

The WSRSLAA will be helping Habitat for Humanity build a home for a needy and deserving family in Leeward Oahu. If you can help on Saturday, July 1, 2006, or have any questions, please email us at lawalum@hawaii.edu. More details will be forthcoming to all who express an interest in helping with this worthwhile project.

WSRSLAA Working on an Alumni Directory for 2006-07; Please Kokua.

In the coming weeks the Law School and Alumni Association will be sending you an alumni directory information up-date form. Please up-date your directory and contact information promptly so we can print our Directory in 2006. Even if the info on your form is correct, please send in the form. Even if you do not want to be listed, please up-date your contact information anyway (so we don’t lose touch) and simply tell us you don’t want to be listed. Sending in your form will save our Directory Committee from having to contact you individually to determine your wishes. Directories will be available without additional cost to our dues-paid members.

If your law firm or other business would like to receive broad exposure to a receptive audience, please consider advertising in our directory. Information on advertising will be sent out with our directory information solicitations.

Sally Lent Ho of the Class of 1985 Dies in February
Sally Lent Ho, 49, died after a long battle with colon cancer on February 18. She worked as the office manager for the Law Offices of Bryan Ho. Sally was born in Tucson, Ariz., and received her B.A. in History from Middlebury College before entering the Richardson School of Law. She is survived by her husband and law school classmate, Bryan Ho; sons Samuel and Alexander; daughter Elizabeth (“Libby”); father Gordon Lent; and sisters Lia, Lori and Stacy Lent and Jane Hinrichs. A celebration of Sally’s life was held at Kakaako Waterfront Park Amphitheater on the afternoon of Saturday, March 18th. Donations in Sally’s name may be made to Hawaiʻi Public Radio. The Association extends its condolences to Bryan and the rest of Sally’s family.
Carol Anne Amerine of the Class of 1980 passes away.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Carol Anne Amerine, 59, of Waikiki, who died in Honolulu on April 1st. Carol was born in Los Angeles. She is survived by her son, Jason, and her brother, Bill Taylor. Private services were held.

If You Haven’t Done So Already, Join WSRSLAA and Get a Free Directory.

The WSRSLAA is an association of Law School alumni, including visiting students. Our principal source of revenue is the $20 annual dues paid by alumni. If you aren’t already a 2006 member, please send in your dues and the Membership Form below. Unless you joined very recently, current membership status is indicated by a “Y” on your mailing label. You can also check your membership status on our website. Members will receive a free alumni directory, so join now!

MEMBERSHIP FORM
(SEND TO WSRSLAA P.O. BOX 952 HONOLULU, HI 96808)
(IF ENCLOSING $20 DUES CHECK, MAKE PAYABLE TO “WSRSLAA”)

NAME: ______________________________ LAW GRADUATION YR. __________

_____________________________________________________________________
CONTACT ADDRESS

PHONE/FAX: ______________ CONTACT EMAIL ADDRESS _________________

Run for our Board for 2006-2007.

Half of our Association’s elected Board (3 from pre-1990 classes and 3 from later classes) and all of our Officer positions (Pres., V.P., Corresponding and Recording Secretaries and Treas.) are up for grabs. So, if you’d like to join the board or nominate another alum (with his or her ok) to serve, fill out the Nomination Form below and send it in or email it to us by Tuesday, May 23rd.

OFFICER/DIRECTOR NOMINATION FORM
(MAIL TO WSRSLAA P.O. BOX 952 HONOLULU, HI 96808 BY MAY 23, 2006)

NOMINEE___________________________ LAW GRADUATION YR. __________
(Please Print)

Nominee’s Phone No. or Current Email address ___________________________
(To allow confirmation of willingness to serve)

NOMINA(TOR)(TRIX) _________________________ CLASS OF __________
(Please Print)

OFFICE FOR WHICH THE NOMINEE IS NOMINATED ___________________
(President, Vice President, Recording Sec., Corresponding Sec., Treasurer or Director)

Join the Party on September 29th – 3rd Annual All Class Reunion; Volunteers Sought for Planning Committee and to Contact Classmates.

Mark your calendars; September 29th is the day for our third annual All Class Reunion to be held beachside at the gracious Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki. Although we want all alumni to join us for the gala reunion, we are making a special pitch to alums from the Classes of ‘01, ‘96, ‘91, ‘86, ‘81 and ’76. Your class can save work and money by including our Reunion as one of your class’s reunion events for 2006.

If you’d be willing to serve on our Reunion Committee or to call or email a few classmates (we can provide contact info.) to encourage participation, please contact us by email at lawalumni@hawaii.edu or contact Della Au Belatti, Jill Hasegawa or Jim Williston. Remember: “The more, the merrier.”

Law School Report.

Jessup International Law Moot Court team. The memorials (briefs) submitted by this year’s WSRSL Jessup team were ranked best in the United States and second best in the entire world (out of 93 teams)! Congratulations to team members Becky Gardner 3L, Molly Stebbins 3L, Nathan Okubo 3L, Lindsay McAneeley 2L, and Robin Scott 2L and faculty adviser, Jon Van Dyke! The team had won the best memorial award and Molly had been named the third best oralist in regional competition at Chapman Law School in February. This year’s issue related to the impact of the development of oil fields on indigenous peoples.

Tribute To Prof. Chris Iijima. (Introduction by Shawn L.M. Benton ’05.)

We have heard how Chris Iijima fought for social justice while living in New York City and stories of his activism in the anti-war and Asian American movements. We were awed when we saw the video of Chris singing on the “Mike Douglas Show” hosted by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and heard the music he wrote as a member of the music group, Yellow Pearl, or on his own.

We have also witnessed Chris’s accomplishments as a professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law. We were lucky to have him continue the legacy of the illustrious line of Pre-Admission Directors. However, there is something that hides deep within each of Chris’s students that only they know – the lasting impact he had on each of their lives.

Since Chris’s passing, reaching into that part of the soul and telling that story has been difficult for some. A few of Chris’s former students were willing to share reflections on how he affected their lives:

* * * *

Shirley N. Garcia, Pre-Admission Program 1999,
Attorney, Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission and Interim Director of the Pre-Admission Program:

I first met Chris Iijima in the Fall of 1999. Almost 7 years have gone by now. Time sure flies. I was asked to write something short about how Chris affected or changed my life. I think the story is still continuing, and hopefully will continue for the rest of my life. But, up to this point, with the Summer of 2006 quickly approaching, I can say this little bit. It has been a constant thought in my mind these last few months.

If you are lucky, you will have one special person in your life who helps you move a little bit closer to the person you want to be. Chris Iijima is one of those people in my life. I first met him as an incoming Pre-Admission Student. As the Director of the Pre-Admission Program, he was “our” Professor, our Chris. But, over my 3.5 years of law school, he became more than my law school professor. He was (and remains) a source of inspiration, admiration, wisdom, and, just simply, an example of a good person. For me, Chris’s life is a testament to commitment, to struggle, and to perseverance.

And, even though he is no longer a phone call away, he is a place of reference that I can go to when I am scared or put in doubt – by a continuing injustice in the world, by an unfamiliar situation, by a role I never imagined myself undertaking. The thing with Chris was that he made you feel comfortable acknowledging your fears, he allowed you to be confused, but, then, he would always tell you to move on from that place of impotence to constructive action.

I came to law school wanting to correct the many injustices facing Native Hawaiians. I was hopeful, but that was a long time ago. Now I cringe when reading the newspapers or hearing the arguments made by those wanting to perpetuate injustice. There are days I just want to turn my back on it all. But, Chris taught me how to accept my fears and uncertainties, and not to be conquered by them. He did this by admitting his own fears about the world we lived in, his own confusion over human nature and the absurdity that exists in the world. Then he would encourage us to work through the uncertainty. The result may be some tangible action or it may just be a new line of thinking that remains latent until another day. He did this with a sense of humor, bravado, as well as vulnerability.

So, in short, how did Chris Iijima affect my life – I don’t think I have the answer to that question right now. I think he made me a little bit braver to speak out against injustice, as well as being a little bit more accepting of myself and others. But one thing I do know, in the end, the answer will ultimately come down to love – love of self, love for others, and love for the greatest of ideals that he believed in, that he committed his life to, and that he encouraged his students to believe and have hope in – justice, acceptance and love.

* * * *

Leslie Patacsil, Pre-Admission Program 2002
Law Clerk for the Honorable Greg K. Nakamura, Circuit Court of the Third Circuit:

I had the honor of being a pre-admission student and having Chris Iijima as my adviser and mentor. When admitted, I expected nothing more than academic advice and some tutoring from Chris. However, it became apparent that Chris would provide me more than this. As most of my classmates can relate, the first year of law school is challenging because of the many adjustments we have to make in our personal lives. I, myself, encountered financial, family, and personal issues within the first several months of law school. Living in Hawaiʻi with no family, I had difficulties seeking help and support in these areas. Chris unconditionally stepped in and gave me the type of "family support" lacking in my life.

Chris checked in with me periodically and always left his office door open to talk about school and life. I recall a certain period when things were overwhelming for me and I would seek Chris's support on a daily basis. Again, Chris took the time away from his own matters to listen and guide me through my hardships.

I later learned that during this “overwhelming” time frame, Chris was experiencing the first of his many physical problems, but never said anything about it. Instead, he held himself out strong for all of us that sought his help. Even when Chris walked with his cane at school, he never spoke of his condition. When I frequently asked him “are you ok?” Chris would answer with a question, “how areYOU doing?” It was just like Chris to take the attention away from himself and put the focus on others.

Many people know how much Chris has contributed to social and racial justice, but little are aware of his accomplishments in changing peoples' personal lives. I miss my mentor, my friend, my family, Chris. But I know that his passion and spirit will continue through the work of the people whose lives he touched.

* * * *

Shawn M. Benton, Pre-Admission Program 2002
Attorney, Leong Kunihiro Leong & Lezy:

Since I was raised by my mother, who had to care for my sister and me, money was tight but our basic needs were provided. It was not until later that I understood why I couldn’t get that pair of Z Cavaricci jeans or why we could only eat out at McDonald’s on Friday nights. I will be the first to admit that my idea of becoming a lawyer was a selfish one—to make money and to, as I used to say, “play with the big boys.” My idea of justice at that time was to win for my clients no matter who they were. Then I met Professor Chris Iijima on my first day of law school. He was gruff, with a bark that could chase any bad spirit away, but he had a heart of gold. He started me on a path that I never thought I would follow.

Chris always encouraged his students to look at everything around us, to look outside of the box (except when it came to Contracts), to see the kind of injustice that was happening. At that time, I didn’t understand what he meant or maybe I just didn’t want to listen. However, Chris must have known that I was hearing him. As law school went on, the realities of injustice and inequality began to surface and my future began to look very different.

I remember the moment when I realized that I would spend a part of my life fighting for justice. It was during my second year at law school that my focus was no longer on myself, but on those life changing issues that were happening: the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger and Rice v. Cayetano; the attacks on Kamehameha School; Guantanamo Bay; the effects of September 11, 2001; the death of Fred Korematsu; and the attack on women’s rights in the court system. I realized that law could be used in the most egregious ways to suppress the rights of those who most needed help from the law; let me tell you, it was really getting to me. The effect it had on me was so overwhelming that I considered removing myself from the legal field.

During my third year, I saw Chris. He arrived at the law school with Jane [his wife] to speak with the new Pre-Admission students. It was a festive time, but a heartfelt one as well. Although Chris’s health was not up to par (and with Jane by his side trying to get him to go home so that he could rest), he made sure he spoke with everyone briefly, even if was just to say a quick “hello”.

Before Chris left, he saw me and, of course, he asked me ‘how are you doing?’ With my mentor in front of me looking thin and frail and my heart filled with sorrow over the injustices that were being revealed to me, I looked at him and began crying. I told him, “I realize what you’ve been teaching us and I don’t think my heart can handle it.” He told me, “Sad isn’t it? I’m glad you’ve finally seen it. So what are you going to do about it?” It was at that point I knew that I could not let my knowledge of the law and my ability to practice slip away.

Chris chose me to be a part of the Pre-Admission Program for a reason. He saw something in my law school application that no one else saw. He wrote, “[p]erhaps most significantly, there is a culture and tradition within the Program that emphasized the ultimate goal was not solely for Pre-Admission students simply to ‘do well’ or even to graduate, but for Pre-Admission students to lead the law school and to work for societal change as lawyers after graduation.” Chris K. Iijima, Separating Support From Betrayal: Examining the Intersections of Racialized Legal Pedagogy, Academic Support, and Subordination, 33 IND. L. REV. 737, 777 (2000). I am honored to be a part of the tradition that Chris eloquently identified and to continue the fight for equality and justice.


Sandra Kim, Pre-Admission Program 2004
Law Student, 2L:

Although I met Chris sporadically throughout my first year, I was blessed to have our paths cross while I faced one of the greatest challenges in my life—first year in law school. Chris was undoubtedly an individual I revered with the same utmost respect and admiration that I have for my mom and dad.

I know my good fortune of getting into law school had much to do with my personal statement and a little to do with my LSAT score. As I am finishing up my 2L year, I can say with confidence that law school is much more than what LSAT scores may claim to prophesize.

In my personal statement, I explain how my parents raised me by the motto, “Always Try Three Times Harder.” As a young girl with immigrant parents from Korea, life was naturally difficult because of language and financial barriers. However, growing up, I was always happy, made the best of what I had, and I knew I could do anything with a good education under my belt and unconditional support from my parents. Growing up this way built character—a compassionate heart, a good head on my shoulders, and a zest for life. So, I lived trying three times harder than others in everything I did. I was fortunate to never fall short and often times found me ahead. It wasn’t until law school that I felt that my best wasn’t good enough. For the first time in my life, persevering through academic challenges, adjusting to a new social setting, and dealing with the economic strain that law school brings were challenges that I wasn’t prepared to face all at once.

I was instantly drawn to Chris because I saw a part of me in him. He had the same zest for life, believed in the same values that brought me to law school, and worked tirelessly for a more “just” society through his teaching and leadership. Through my brief encounters with Chris during study sessions and pep talks, Chris reinvigorated my drive to try three times harder. He reminded me that the most important aspect of law school was not the letter grades or how many articles I have published, but to remember the reason why I was in law school. Chris said that my personal goals toward justice would always be an uphill battle, meaning, in order to achieve what I came to law school to do, I would always need to work three times harder than the others.

Meeting Chris at such a crucial point in my life strengthened my drive to persevere not only through law school, but also the many adversities that lay ahead of me. Learning about Chris’ amazing accomplishments and knowing how much more he wanted to do for the law school, Hawaiʻi, and the world, I know I have my share of the work cut out for me. Thanks to Chris, I am still reaching for my dreams, never giving up, and always trying three times harder.

Sandra Kim, Pre-Admission Program 2004
Law Student, 2L

Alumni Tidbits:
If you would like to share an alumni tidbit, please mail or email it to us (see masthead above.)

1981, 1985 and 1987 -- Congratulations to Jan K. Apo ‘81 (District Court, Second Circuit), Linda Martell ‘87 (District Family Court, First Circuit) and Alvin Nishimura ‘85 (District Court, First Circuit), who were recently reappointed as per diem judges.


1986 – Kudos to Linda Rose, who was listed among Tennessee’s top 150 lawyers for the second year in a row by Business Tennessee and was selected in a survey of Nashville attorneys as among the “Best of the Bar.” Linda, who practices immigration law in Nashville (the “Athens of the South”), says she is convinced that the solid legal education she received at the WSRSL gave her the foundation for achievement and that she is proud to be the only lawyer in Nashville with a law diploma in the Hawaiian language.

1991 – Our thanks to Devika (Seth) Dubey for a recent up-date. She is currently serving as a Senior Trial Attorney for the U.S. EEOC in Dallas and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Texas Weslyan Univ. School of Law and an Adjunct Professor of Management at the University of North Texas. She will be pursuing an LL.M. at Georgetown Univ. Law Center this coming fall, in labor and employment law.

1992 – Best wishes to Richard Sakoda, upon joining Judith Sterling ’80 and Michelle Tucker ’81 as a partner in the Law Firm of Sterling and Tucker. Richard is the first new partner in the firm’s 15-year history. Richard has been an associate with the firm since 1996, and has practiced in the areas of estate planning, disability planning and probate and trust law since 1993.

1995 -- Congratulations to Ben Majoe, admitted in February as a Barrister and Solicitor in Western Australia. After leaving Hawaiʻi, where he had practiced family law in Waipahu, Ben had to complete an additional year of legal study at Murdoch University and a period of “articles” before being eligible for admission to the Australian Bar.

Lawyers’ Slow-Pitch Softball League BEGINS again in May of 2006

The Lawyers’ League Slow-Pitch Softball League is open to all law students, law school graduates, full time employees of law firms or law organizations, and their spouses.

Season: May – September 2006
Games: Saturdays: 1:00 pm, 2:20 pm & 3:40 pm

Join a preexisting team or organize your own team by contacting:

Michael Ragsdale, Will Copulos, or Donald Fisher

Send in Your Outstanding Alumni Award Nominees for 2006

The WSRSLAA seeks nominations for its “2006 Outstanding Alumni Award,” the winner of which will be announced at the September 29, 2006 All-Class Reunion. Simply fill out the attached form and send it in by Monday, July 3, 2006.




Tribute To Professor Chris Iijima.

Introduction by Shawn L.M. Benton ’05.

We have heard how Chris Iijima fought for social justice while living
in New York City and stories of his activism in the anti-war and Asian
American movements. We were awed when we saw the video of Chris
singing on the “Mike Douglas Show” hosted by John Lennon and
Yoko Ono and heard the music he wrote as a member of the music
group, Yellow Pearl, or on his own.

We have also witnessed Chris’s accomplishments as a professor at
the William S. Richardson School of Law. We were lucky to have him
continue the legacy of the illustrious line of Pre-Admission
Directors. However, there is something that hides deep within each
of Chris’s students that only they know – the lasting impact he had
on each of their lives.

Since Chris’s passing, reaching into that part of the soul and telling
that story has been difficult for some. A few of Chris’s former
students were willing to share reflections on how he affected their
lives:

* * * *

Shirley N. Garcia, Pre-Admission Program 1999,
Attorney, Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission and Interim Director of the
Pre-Admission Program:

I first met Chris Iijima in the Fall of 1999. Almost 7 years have gone
by now. Time sure flies. I was asked to write something short about
how Chris affected or changed my life. I think the story is still
continuing, and hopefully will continue for the rest of my life. But,
up to this point, with the Summer of 2006 quickly approaching, I can
say this little bit. It has been a constant thought in my mind these
last few months.

If you are lucky, you will have one special person in your life who
helps you move a little bit closer to the person you want to be. Chris
Iijima is one of those people in my life. I first met him as an
incoming Pre-Admission Student. As the Director of the Pre-
Admission Program, he was “our” Professor, our Chris. But, over my
3.5 years of law school, he became more than my law school
professor. He was (and remains) a source of inspiration, admiration,
wisdom, and, just simply, an example of a good person. For me,
Chris’s life is a testament to commitment, to struggle, and to
perseverance.

And, even though he is no longer a phone call away, he is a place of
reference that I can go to when I am scared or put in doubt – by a
continuing injustice in the world, by an unfamiliar situation, by a
role I never imagined myself undertaking. The thing with Chris was
that he made you feel comfortable acknowledging your fears, he
allowed you to be confused, but, then, he would always tell you to
move on from that place of impotence to constructive action.

I came to law school wanting to correct the many injustices facing
Native Hawaiians. I was hopeful, but that was a long time ago. Now
I cringe when reading the newspapers or hearing the arguments
made by those wanting to perpetuate injustice. There are days I just
want to turn my back on it all. But, Chris taught me how to accept
my fears and uncertainties, and not to be conquered by them. He
did this by admitting his own fears about the world we lived in, his
own confusion over human nature and the absurdity that exists in
the world. Then he would encourage us to work through the
uncertainty. The result may be some tangible action or it may just
be a new line of thinking that remains latent until another day. He
did this with a sense of humor, bravado, as well as vulnerability.

So, in short, how did Chris Iijima affect my life – I don’t think I have
the answer to that question right now. I think he made me a little
bit braver to speak out against injustice, as well as being a little bit
more accepting of myself and others. But one thing I do know, in
the end, the answer will ultimately come down to love – love of self,
love for others, and love for the greatest of ideals that he believed
in, that he committed his life to, and that he encouraged his
students to believe and have hope in – justice, acceptance and love.

* * * *

Leslie Patacsil, Pre-Admission Program 2002
Law Clerk for the Honorable Greg K. Nakamura, Circuit Court of the
Third Circuit:

I had the honor of being a pre-admission student and having Chris
Iijima as my adviser and mentor. When admitted, I expected nothing
more than academic advice and some tutoring from Chris. However,
it became apparent that Chris would provide me more than this. As
most of my classmates can relate, the first year of law school is
challenging because of the many adjustments we have to make in
our personal lives. I, myself, encountered financial, family, and
personal issues within the first several months of law school. Living
in Hawaiʻi with no family, I had difficulties seeking help and support
in these areas. Chris unconditionally stepped in and gave me the
type of "family support" lacking in my life.

Chris checked in with me periodically and always left his office door
open to talk about school and life. I recall a certain period when
things were overwhelming for me and I would seek Chris's support
on a daily basis. Again, Chris took the time away from his own
matters to listen and guide me through my hardships.

I later learned that during this “overwhelming” time frame, Chris
was experiencing the first of his many physical problems, but never
said anything about it. Instead, he held himself out strong for all of
us that sought his help. Even when Chris walked with his cane at
school, he never spoke of his condition. When I frequently asked him
“are you ok?” Chris would answer with a question, “how areYOU
doing?” It was just like Chris to take the attention away from
himself and put the focus on others.

Many people know how much Chris has contributed to social and
racial justice, but little are aware of his accomplishments in
changing peoples' personal lives. I miss my mentor, my friend, my
family, Chris. But I know that his passion and spirit will continue
through the work of the people whose lives he touched.

* * * *
Shawn M. Benton, Pre-Admission Program 2002
Attorney, Leong Kunihiro Leong & Lezy:

Since I was raised by my mother, who had to care for my sister and
me, money was tight but our basic needs were provided. It was not
until later that I understood why I couldn’t get that pair of Z
Cavaricci jeans or why we could only eat out at McDonald’s on Friday
nights. I will be the first to admit that my idea of becoming a lawyer
was a selfish one—to make money and to, as I used to say, “play with
the big boys.” My idea of justice at that time was to win for my
clients no matter who they were. Then I met Professor Chris Iijima
on my first day of law school. He was gruff, with a bark that could
chase any bad spirit away, but he had a heart of gold. He started me
on a path that I never thought I would follow.

Chris always encouraged his students to look at everything around
us, to look outside of the box (except when it came to Contracts), to
see the kind of injustice that was happening. At that time, I didn’t
understand what he meant or maybe I just didn’t want to listen.
However, Chris must have known that I was hearing him. As law
school went on, the realities of injustice and inequality began to
surface and my future began to look very different.

I remember the moment when I realized that I would spend a part of
my life fighting for justice. It was during my second year at law
school that my focus was no longer on myself, but on those life
changing issues that were happening: the U.S. Supreme Court’s
decision in Grutter v. Bollinger and Rice v. Cayetano; the attacks on
Kamehameha School; Guantanamo Bay; the effects of September 11,
2001; the death of Fred Korematsu; and the attack on women’s
rights in the court system. I realized that law could be used in the
most egregious ways to suppress the rights of those who most
needed help from the law; let me tell you, it was really getting to me.
The effect it had on me was so overwhelming that I considered
removing myself from the legal field.

During my third year, I saw Chris. He arrived at the law school with
Jane [his wife] to speak with the new Pre-Admission students. It was
a festive time, but a heartfelt one as well. Although Chris’s health
was not up to par (and with Jane by his side trying to get him to go
home so that he could rest), he made sure he spoke with everyone
briefly, even if was just to say a quick “hello”.

Before Chris left, he saw me and, of course, he asked me ‘how are
you doing?’ With my mentor in front of me looking thin and frail and
my heart filled with sorrow over the injustices that were being
revealed to me, I looked at him and began crying. I told him, “I
realize what you’ve been teaching us and I don’t think my heart can
handle it.” He told me, “Sad isn’t it? I’m glad you’ve finally seen it.
So what are you going to do about it?” It was at that point I knew
that I could not let my knowledge of the law and my ability to
practice slip away.

Chris chose me to be a part of the Pre-Admission Program for a
reason. He saw something in my law school application that no one
else saw. He wrote, “[p]erhaps most significantly, there is a culture
and tradition within the Program that emphasized the ultimate goal
was not solely for Pre-Admission students simply to ‘do well’ or even
to graduate, but for Pre-Admission students to lead the law school
and to work for societal change as lawyers after graduation.” Chris
K. Iijima, Separating Support From Betrayal: Examining the
Intersections of Racialized Legal Pedagogy, Academic Support, and
Subordination, 33 IND. L. REV. 737, 777 (2000). I am honored to be a
part of the tradition that Chris eloquently identified and to continue
the fight for equality and justice.


Sandra Kim, Pre-Admission Program 2004
Law Student, 2L:

Although I met Chris sporadically throughout my first year, I was
blessed to have our paths cross while I faced one of the greatest
challenges in my life—first year in law school. Chris was
undoubtedly an individual I revered with the same utmost respect
and admiration that I have for my mom and dad.

I know my good fortune of getting into law school had much to do
with my personal statement and a little to do with my LSAT score.
As I am finishing up my 2L year, I can say with confidence that law
school is much more than what LSAT scores may claim to
prophesize.

In my personal statement, I explain how my parents raised me by the
motto, “Always Try Three Times Harder.” As a young girl with
immigrant parents from Korea, life was naturally difficult because of
language and financial barriers. However, growing up, I was always
happy, made the best of what I had, and I knew I could do anything
with a good education under my belt and unconditional support
from my parents. Growing up this way built character—a
compassionate heart, a good head on my shoulders, and a zest for
life. So, I lived trying three times harder than others in everything I
did. I was fortunate to never fall short and often times found me
ahead. It wasn’t until law school that I felt that my best wasn’t good
enough. For the first time in my life, persevering through academic
challenges, adjusting to a new social setting, and dealing with the
economic strain that law school brings were challenges that I wasn’t
prepared to face all at once.

I was instantly drawn to Chris because I saw a part of me in him. He
had the same zest for life, believed in the same values that brought
me to law school, and worked tirelessly for a more “just” society
through his teaching and leadership. Through my brief encounters
with Chris during study sessions and pep talks, Chris reinvigorated
my drive to try three times harder. He reminded me that the most
important aspect of law school was not the letter grades or how
many articles I have published, but to remember the reason why I
was in law school. Chris said that my personal goals toward justice
would always be an uphill battle, meaning, in order to achieve what I
came to law school to do, I would always need to work three times
harder than the others.

Meeting Chris at such a crucial point in my life strengthened my
drive to persevere not only through law school, but also the many
adversities that lay ahead of me. Learning about Chris’ amazing
accomplishments and knowing how much more he wanted to do for
the law school, Hawaiʻi, and the world, I know I have my share of the
work cut out for me. Thanks to Chris, I am still reaching for my
dreams, never giving up, and always trying three times harder.