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NextWave: Gift by Zhang family leads to $1 million in law scholarships

October 27, 2021 11:00 AM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu

Tulane Law alumnus David Zhang (L'91), a partner with Kirkland & Ellis in Hong Kong, is a member of the Tulane Law Dean’s Advisory Board. His gift will receive matching dollars under the NextWave Challenge for student scholarships.


Tulane Law School has received one of the largest financial commitments for student scholarships ever from alumnus David Zhang (L’91) and his wife, Yibing Mao – a half-million donation that will double to $1 million under the NextWave Challenge program. 

Zhang, a partner with Kirkland & Ellis in Hong Kong, is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board; the gift constitutes just the fourth scholarship of $1 million or greater in the law school’s endowment. The gift and those of seven other NextWave law alumni donors thus far total $2.5 million in endowed scholarships under the program, which offers matching dollars.

“We are enormously grateful to David and Yibing for their vision and generosity in supporting future generations of Tulane Law students,” said Dean David Meyer. “Their gift will enable talented students to realize their own dreams of becoming Tulane lawyers and making a powerful difference in their own careers around the world.”

Zhang was philosophical about the gift.

“Everything I have, I owe to Tulane Law School. I received a merit scholarship to attend Tulane, and I am eternally grateful for that opportunity,” Zhang said. “This gift, frankly, is long overdue.”

Zhang is a world-renowned corporate and securities attorney. He is a senior corporate partner at Kirkland & Ellis’ Hong Kong office, and his practice focuses on securities, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. In his 30-plus year career, he has represented multinational corporations, entrepreneurs, and funds on transactions throughout China and Southeast Asia.

He is an independent non-executive director of Fosun International, an innovation-driven consumer group listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.  Mao was, until last year, global senior vice-president and the Chief Legal Counsel for Asia-Pacific at Marriott International and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Las Vegas Sands Corp. She is a graduate of Duke University Law School.

His practice has been both challenging and fulfilling, Zhang said.

“It is gratifying when you have a client that grows from essentially a startup, with say 100 employees, to a world-class public company with billions of dollars in market value.  As a corporate lawyer, you can play a big part in making things happen," Zhang said. "In my law school days, I would never have imagined that I would one day be in the room counseling a company’s board and its investors through a ground-breaking IPO or a multibillion-dollar acquisition.”

His time at Tulane Law School was special, a place where he met lifelong friends and picked up a life-changing hobby: running. With the encouragement of his friend and fellow alum Greg Mocek (L’91), Zhang began running during his law school years, taking laps around Audubon Park several times a week.

Zhang has since continued running – all over the world. He has completed all six of the major marathons, New York, Chicago, Boston, London, Berlin, and Tokyo. He is the 1,071st person in the world to have completed all six.

Zhang is also convinced that taking a variety of core substantive courses, such as trust and estate, copyright, antitrust and advanced tax law, gave him a broad perspective and a firm grounding making him a more effective lawyer when advising on corporate transactions.  His advice to law students is to take courses that will likely stand them in good stead in their future careers.

For his fellow alumni, he’s issuing a challenge: give back to Tulane Law if you can especially in mentorships and gifts.

“This is a signal to my fellow graduates to give back a bit, to provide a challenge to make a difference both in engaging more with Tulane Law and in supporting the school’s efforts to elevate its national and international prominence.”

The NextWave Challenge matches donor gifts of $100,000 to $500,000 dollar for dollar and was possible through the generosity of the alumni families of Richard Yulman and Katy and Greg Williamson.