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News Posted on May 1, 2017

Rew Ikazaki ’87: Gratitude and Giving

Rew IkazakiAfter 30 years as a successful business attorney, Rew Ikazaki ’87 has learned to “hit the pause button.” He’s taking some time to reflect, and finding ways to give back.  That’s why he created the Herbert T. and Frances K. Ikazaki Scholarship at UC Davis School of Law.

“I’ve been thinking about my life, how fortunate I‘ve been, and that started the wheels turning,” said Ikazaki, who recently left Tesla after five years as a chief counsel. "I’m now in a good position to be able to share the benefits which many others have helped me achieve.”

In naming the scholarship, Ikazaki wanted to honor his parents. “I’ve raised my son, and I understand the responsibility and challenges of being a parent,” he said.  “I certainly didn’t appreciate everything they did back then.”

Ikazaki’s father was an attorney in Honolulu, and watching him at work and in the community inspired dreams of becoming a lawyer. After earning his undergraduate degree at UCLA, Ikazaki came to King Hall and found himself enjoying the small town feel of Davis and the welcome he received from his classmates and professors.

“We very quickly became a community,” he said. “You definitely got to know everyone in your class, but you also knew almost everyone in the second- and third-year classes. The Asian Pacific American Law Students Association reached out and offered guidance, which meant a lot to me as a first-year student.  We also got to know the professors outside of the classroom as they invited us to their homes, and we would see them out and around Davis.” 

While at UC Davis, Ikazaki also enrolled in the Graduate School of Management as one of the first students pursuing the joint degree program. Having the dual background helped him in his law career, Ikazaki said. “As a commercial attorney, you are, of course, dealing with the agreement at hand, but it’s also important to see the bigger picture: what are the goals and objectives of each party, what is important to each side, and what are they trying to accomplish? Studying both business and law was helpful in this regard.”

Earlier in his career, Ikazaki worked at a Tokyo law firm and as foreign in-house counsel at Japan’s second largest ink and diversified chemical company. He returned to California to join Sun Microsystems where he spent 11 years before Oracle’s acquisition of the company. Thereafter, he worked at Trident Microsystems for a year before joining Tesla’s legal team in late 2011.

“My work focused on supporting business teams and helping them overcome whatever issues they faced to keep the product on schedule,” he said. “It was a small legal department, especially when I first got there, so we did whatever came through the door. It was a mixed bag, and I enjoyed the variety.”

Now that his son is in graduate school, Ikazaki feels that he’s in a position to “hit the pause button,” reflect on his life and career, and find ways to give back.

“It’s one of the things I discuss when speaking with students,” said Ikazaki. “It’s important to remember how fortunate we are to  have had these opportunities, to acknowledge all the help we received along the way, and to now share some of what we’ve been able to accomplish and support those following in our paths.”