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Why I Give

Chris Maxwell '75 knows a thing or two about building toward a future that’s not yet fully in view.  

When she enrolled at California Western in the early 1970s, she arrived on a campus where everything would soon be in chaotic transition, and no one could quite see what the law school’s future would look like.  

California Western at the time was preparing for its historic relocation from Point Loma to downtown San Diego. For the relocation to succeed, the faculty, staff, and students would need to transform an early 20th century performing arts academy into a fully functional law school that would pass muster with the ABA.  

As a young 1L student newly arrived in San Diego from Los Angeles, Chris scarcely cracked a law book before she found herself alongside fellow students plastering walls and tearing up dance floors. 

“Not only did I get a good legal education at Cal Western,” she says, “but the experience of relocating the law school also instilled a certain resilience and persistence in everyone who was there at the time. It gave us a sense that we could overcome just about any obstacle.” 

 This trial by fire proved excellent preparation for being a lawyer “out in the real world,” she says, helping to propel her legal career to the highest echelons of the entertainment industry. “I also learned how to wield a crowbar,” she quipped, noting that this has come in handy with home repairs over the years.   

Chris says she has always been grateful for what California Western taught her and she decided early on to express that gratitude by giving back to the law school and its students. The trajectory of that giving stretches all the way back to her first donation of $10 in 1976, and well into the future with her inclusion of California Western in her and her husband’s estate plans.  

Chris says her reason for giving is quite simple: “To pay back what I received from law school.”  

Including California Western in her and her husband’s estate plans represents a natural extension of that philanthropic impulse and complements their past and current annual giving to the law school by reinforcing their investment.  

Chris says it has also been a smart financial move when it comes to transferring family assets to the next generation, noting that providing for their adult child and creating a lasting legacy for the causes she and her husband care about is not a zero-sum game. In fact, she credits strategic estate planning with providing current and future tax and other benefits for all three of them.  

As for investing in a future not yet fully in view—one that extends beyond her lifetime? For Chris, that’s a no-brainer. “Of all the things you can do with your money after you’re not using it anymore, what could be better than helping to educate the next generation of people to lead our country?” 

And where better to invest in their education? For Chris, it’s the law school she literally helped to build all those years ago.  

We hope you will consider becoming a member of the Castetter Society—a group of generous supporters like Chris who have remembered the Law School in their estate plans—in one of the following ways:

  • Include a bequest to California Western in your will or trust
  • Name California Western as a beneficiary of your IRA or other qualified retirement plan
  • Donate a fully paid life insurance policy
  • Purchase a life insurance policy with California Western named as owner and beneficiary
  • Establish a charitable remainder trust

For more information, please contact Dani Dawson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, at (858)997-3047 or