UCLA Law Launches Program on Philanthropy and Nonprofits

August 27, 2021
Lowell Milken and Jill Horwitz
Lowell Milken and Jill Horwitz

With the philanthropy world on the precipice of revolutionary change, UCLA School of Law has established the Program on Philanthropy and Nonprofits, devoted to cutting-edge research, training, and policy in this dynamic and evolving area of the law and society. It will reside within the law school’s Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy (LMI). The new program builds on the vision of LMI founder and UCLA Law alumnus Lowell Milken ’73, who has utilized his own legal background to inform his work as both a businessman and a philanthropist.

“Lowell Milken brought this new law and philanthropy program concept to us, showing incredible foresight about generational wealth transfer,” says Joel Feuer, executive director of LMI. “Thanks to his investment in this idea, we are now ready to launch a pioneering effort that again has the potential to transform a field of law.”

Why “revolutionary change”?

As baby boomers pass on, expectations are that they will transfer tens of trillions of dollars in wealth to younger generations, to well-established nonprofits, and/or family foundations. This massive financial shift is set to upend the processes of philanthropy and the governance of nonprofits. The rise of new ways of conducting philanthropy and changes in the role of nonprofits in society places this issue closer still to the heart of the national political, legal, and social conversation.

“The nonprofit sector is undergoing an epochal shift, and lawyers will be at the center of this transformation,” says Professor Jill Horwitz, a renowned authority in the law of nonprofits and the program’s inaugural faculty director. “UCLA Law and the Lowell Milken Institute now have the opportunity to lead the way in this especially relevant area.”

Horwitz, who holds the David Sanders Professorship in Law and Medicine at UCLA Law, recently served as the reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law, Charitable Nonprofit Organizations.

Since its founding in 2011, LMI has been home to UCLA Law’s business law and tax law programs, both of which are ranked in the top 10 nationally. The new program will serve UCLA Law students and all stakeholders in the nonprofit sector, convening practitioners, donors, regulators, and those who run nonprofits. Initially, the program will focus on three main goals:

  1. Become a research center that develops and shares scholarship and knowledge on issues relating to nonprofits, including tax policy, governance, and the role of nonprofits in developing and promoting social policies. This goal will provide resources to a wide range of participants in the nonprofit sector, including policymakers, regulators, lawyers, and senior managers of nonprofits.
  2. Develop and expand education at UCLA Law for students, lawyers, directors, and senior managers of nonprofits on issues that are central to nonprofit operations, financial management, and governance.
  3. Support thought leadership on legal issues material to nonprofits so that the program serves as an important resource for the operation and governance of nonprofits and as a venue to bring together practitioners, scholars, and regulators.

“We are immensely grateful to Lowell Milken for his visionary gift,” says UCLA Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin. “Our outstanding UCLA Law faculty, especially in tax law, nonprofit law, and the governance of entities, positions us to be a national resource for scholarship and policy analysis of the nonprofit sector — and we can take a leadership role in the education of legal counsel, nonprofit directors, and executives to meet the challenges that will shape nonprofits.”

Among the nation’s most eminent businessmen, philanthropists and leaders in education reform,  Milken has donated more than $20 million to the law school during the past decade, including the $10 million gift, then the largest in the school’s history, that launched LMI in 2011. A new gift of $3.7 million has made the new Program on Philanthropy and Nonprofits possible.

“We’re undergoing a generational shift that promises to make some of the most significant changes to the universe of business law and policy in decades,” Lowell Milken says. “There is a rare and important chance to make an impact on a national scale, and the talent and vision of the people at UCLA Law and LMI make this an exciting and irresistible opportunity.”

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