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Dean visits Tokyo alumni

Friday, Aug 19, 2011

Rasmussen travels overseas to connect with LL.M. grads and supporters

-By Lori Craig

Just ahead of welcoming the newest class of Graduate and International Programs students to USC Law, Dean Robert K. Rasmussen traveled to Tokyo to reconnect with graduates from years past.

Dean Rasmussen and G&IP alumni at dinner
 Dean Rasmussen, seated front left, dines with G&IP
 alumni in Tokyo.

G&IP, which includes the LL.M., M.C.L., Visiting International Programs and J.D. Study Abroad, enrolls its 10th class this academic year. Dean Rasmussen’s late summer trip was an opportunity to reaffirm USC Law’s commitment to its partners who have helped make G&IP a success, he said.

“I thought this was the perfect time to engage alumni and the firms in their own country,” Rasmussen said. “We now have a critical mass of USC Law alums who are powerful advocates for us inside their law firms; they sing the praises of their experiences here.”

The three-day trip included visits to five of the leading firms in Japan to meet USC Law alumni, prospective students, and leaders at the firms who oversee associate education.

It was the first time a USC Law dean has traveled for the program since its launch. Prior to the first international class enrolling at the school in 2002, Dean Matthew Spitzer traveled to Japan to recruit students, along with Steve Yamaguchi, currently university counsel at USC and a USC Law lecturer teaching Contract Drafting and Negotiation for Foreign Lawyers.

Yamaguchi accompanied Dean Rasmussen this time around, as well.

“It is important for us to show our recognition and appreciation to our alumni and the firms that help support their professional development,” Yamaguchi said. “We wanted to visit with our alumni in their professional environments to observe and better understand how their careers have progressed and how they use the experience and education they have gained at USC in their practice. We felt it was most effective to fly to Japan to see this for ourselves.”

Dean Rasmussen visits a Toyko firm
  Dean Rasmussen visits a Tokyo firm.

During their stay, Dean Rasmussen and Yamaguchi also hosted a small dinner for some of the first graduates of the program, a larger dinner for alumni and a cocktail reception for 50 alumni, including a J.D. alumnus.

“It really is amazing to see how our G&IP alums have just skyrocketed in their professions,” Dean Rasmussen said. “It was gratifying to hear how much they value their experiences here.”

Kenji Hirooka ’04, a partner with Bingham McCutchen in Tokyo, helped organize the reception and acted as master of ceremonies for the event.

“The dean’s visit showed the university’s strong willingness to support the alumni of USC Law as well as the university’s commitment to invest in building the best program among U.S. law schools,” Hirooka said. “Also, the visit gave Japanese alumni an opportunity to get together and be connected to each other more strongly than ever.”

Facilitating that connection between Japanese alumni was a key point of the trip for Dean Rasmussen.

“When you come here as an LL.M. student, you always know the people in your class, but this was an opportunity for our Japanese alums to get to know each other,” Dean Rasmussen said. “With this group of alums there really is a great resource to enhance the Trojan family in Tokyo. We’ve already seen that the graduates of our program are becoming leaders in their firms, or in their government industries or private companies, and to put these people in touch with each other can create a very powerful network for our alums.”Dearn Rasmussen in Tokyo

Hirooka agreed, noting that those who attended the reception made an important first step in strengthening the alumni network.

“There is a strong foundation among us to help us cultivate our true friendship, which makes our personal lives richer,” he said.

Rasmussen hopes the trip will be the first in a series of occasional visits to countries with a vigorous USC Law presence. Tokyo seemed a natural first stop because of support there for the school’s international programs: four of the 12 students enrolled in the first G&IP class were from Japan, and 165 of the program’s alumni are Japanese.

His next international trip will be to the USC Global Conference in Hong Kong in October.

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