Spring/Summer 2023


Like Father, Like Daughter: U-M Family Funds New Scholarship

By Chelsea Liddy Pivtorak

Ray Kepner, ’77
Ray Kepner, ’77

One of the proudest moments for Ray Kepner, ’77, was watching his daughter Sarah Kepner Hamilton graduate from Michigan Law in 2005. Five generations of the Kepner family have attended the University of Michigan, including, most recently, Kepner’s granddaughter. In honor of this family legacy, Kepner and Hamilton have jointly established a new scholarship fund to benefit future generations at the Law School. 

Kepner practiced as a labor and employment lawyer for nearly 40 years, the bulk of which was spent in Los Angeles. He retired as a senior partner from Seyfarth Shaw in 2016 and subsequently established an independent employment mediation firm, Kepner Mediation LLC.

"All of the issues that we deal with in society at large find their way into the workplace.”

Ray Kepner

“I think labor and employment law is such an intrinsically interesting and broad area of practice because it’s constantly changing,” says Kepner. “All of the issues that we deal with in society at large find their way into the workplace.”  

Hamilton received her undergraduate degree from the U-M School of Kinesiology and began her career working in nonprofit sports, including with US Figure Skating and USA Hockey. But she wanted to gain additional credentials and further explore different career paths, so she decided to try her hand at the law. 

Sarah Kepner, ’05
Sarah Kepner, ’05

“My parents were both lawyers, and we had tableside conversations about being a lawyer, but I really had no idea what it meant to be an actual practicing attorney,” Hamilton says. “I had a fantastic experience as a summer associate with Jones Day while I was attending Michigan Law, and I ended up working in their San Francisco office after law school.” 

After five years practicing general litigation at Jones Day, Hamilton followed in her father’s footsteps and took up labor and employment work. She is now a partner at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, where she represents management in employment matters. Even though Kepner is now retired from practicing law, Hamilton calls him a “tremendous mentor” and often takes the opportunity to pick his brain on particularly complicated or novel cases. 

Driven by their shared connection to Michigan, Kepner and Hamilton established the new scholarship fund so that future students can benefit from a Michigan education regardless of their financial circumstances. The Raymond R. Kepner and Sarah Kepner Hamilton Scholarship Fund will support students at the Law School who are from California, Ohio, and Indiana—states where the pair have lived and worked. 

Both father and daughter recently celebrated milestones on campus: Kepner’s 45th class reunion and Hamilton’s 15th. Being back at the University of Michigan was a memorable experience for the family, who not only enjoyed visiting the Law Quad and attending a football game but also visited with Kepner’s granddaughter, Ellie, currently a student in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. 

Kepner and Hamilton say they view their scholarship as an expression of gratitude to the University and the Law School for opportunities and experiences provided to their family over many decades.