The UC Davis Foundation recently presented its 2019 Charles J. Soderquist Award to Stephen Boutin, a 1972 graduate of the School of Law. The award is given annually in recognition of philanthropy, volunteerism, leadership and an overall commitment to the university, and is named after the late foundation chair who exemplified all those traits.
Boutin, co-founder and principal in Boutin Jones Inc., one of Sacramento’s largest law firms, has been a guest speaker, and moderated and served as a panelist for numerous legal education programs at the School of Law. His practice emphasizes business, real property and securities litigation.
He and his firm have been generous supporters of UC Davis. The School of Law honored him with a distinguished alumni award in 2002, the same year the Cal Aggie Alumni Association gave him a citation of excellence award. He and his wife, Linda, have been generous donors not only to the School of Law, but also to Intercollegiate Athletics and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
The Sacramento County Bar Association named him its distinguished attorney of the year in 2015, and he has been a Northern California “Super Lawyer” for multiple consecutive years, as determined by a rating service that identifies lawyers in more than 70 practice areas who have attained high degrees of peer recognition and professional achievement.
An Aggie destiny
The Boutin family’s ties to UC Davis date back exactly 100 years, when Peter J. Shields –– founding father of UC Davis — arranged a blind date for the couple who would become Stephen Boutin’s maternal grandparents, Stephen and Persis Downey.
“I grew up always feeling UC Davis was a special place,” Boutin said. “I remember when I was 6 years old and came for my first Picnic Day. It was thrilling and made an indelible, lifelong impression upon me.”
Boutin has carried that love for UC Davis through his student years on campus and into his career. Boutin, along with Clay Tanaka, director of legal research and writing at School of Law, have sponsored a golf tournament for the past decade, with the proceeds going to the King Hall Legal Foundation. The foundation awards stipends to law students for public interest internships.
“The UC Davis law school is unlike other law schools,” Boutin said. “Our students are not pitted against one another in competition, rather they are collaborative and collegial, and work together to find solutions to difficult legal issues.”
Paying it forward
The UC Davis Foundation is a nonprofit organization that enhances the excellence of the university by highlighting the impacts of philanthropy and stewarding private donations to the institution. The foundation board created the Soderquist award in 2005 a year after the alumnus and entrepreneur’s death.
“We are very pleased to recognize Stephen Boutin as this year’s recipient of the Charles J. Soderquist Award,” said Bruce West, chair of the foundation board. “He represents the Aggie spirit and shows how donors can make a difference in their community.”
The award comes with a $5,000 prize, which the recipient donates to a university program or field of his or her choice. Stepen and Linda Boutin considered three options — one to thank the law school and to support its outstanding efforts, a second to perpetuate Aggie Pride and a third to assist Aggie students in meeting fundamental needs. So the family, including their daughters, Alexis and Brie, decided to support all three with $5,000 each:
- The School of Law’s Rex R. Perschbacher Scholarship for first-generation law students
- The Coach’s Excellence Fund for the Aggie football team
- The ASUCD Pantry, providing students with up to three healthy meals a day
The Soderquist award provided the first $5,000, the Boutins matched it and Boutin Jones Inc. provided an additional $5,000.
“I'm not often speechless, but I was when I found out that I received the Soderquist award,” Boutin said. “There are so many people who are deserving of this award, whose contributions to UC Davis far outweigh my own –– I am humbled to receive this honor.”