News from Pepperdine University School of Law. Read how the Pepperdine University School of Law is making headlines. en-us Sun, 08 Dec 2019 22:15:57 -0800 Drupal Dean's Speaker Series Featuring Haben Girma, the First Deafblind Graduate of Harvard Law The first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law, Haben Girma is an advocate of accessibility for people with disabilities. On Monday, November 11, the Pepperdine Caruso Law community welcomed Girma for the second installment of the Dean’s Speaker Series. Thu, 14 Nov 2019 21:15:00 PST Haben Girma pioneers her own way through the unknown every day. The first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law, Girma is an advocate for accessibility for people with disabilities. On Monday, November 11, the Pepperdine Caruso Law community welcomed Girma for the Dean’s Speaker Series for what Dean Caron described as a “mesmerizing” talk on the importance of accessibility and inclusion of all people. 

Girma defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. “It’s society that creates barriers,” she explained, “and all of you have the skills and talents to create a more inclusive world.” With 1.3 billion people worldwide living with disabilities, Girma discussed how disability touches all of our lives at some point, and it’s critical that we invest in accessibility through the nexus of education and technology. Addressing a room full of law students, Girma noted, “It’s much easier to choose inclusion rather than risk litigation.”

Technology, she explained, has so much power to reduce barriers. Using a braille computer connected to a wireless keyboard, Girma receives both visual and audio descriptions of her environment and is able to communicate seamlessly with others. She displayed an uncanny ability to feel the energy of the room and fill it with laughter and inspiration. She captivated the audience by recounting her experiences of learning to surf, salsa dancing, and graduating from law school. Following her talk, Girma welcomed students to come forward and type questions to her.

In her new book Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, “Girma takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House,” and she goes on to describe the ways in which she fights for inclusion of people with disabilities: “Inclusion is a choice. When you choose to be inclusive, you model that for everyone around you. We deserve dignity and access at every stage of our lives.”

Pepperdine Caruso Law is proud to host advocates like Haben Girma who believe in the power of communities to create justice. She concluded with a simple reminder that we all face the choice to accept unfairness or advocate for justice and that separate is neverequal. 

Established in 2019, the Dean’s Speaker Series brings speakers from diverse backgrounds with various experiences in the legal profession to campus to share meaningful conversation and insight. Pepperdine Caruso Law will welcome its next speaker, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, on January 30, 2020.

School of Law
Pepperdine Community Event Celebrates $50 Million Commitment by Alumnus Rick J. Caruso The celebration also commemorated the school’s renaming as the Rick J. Caruso School of Law in recognition of the gift, which will expand educational access to exceptional, historically underserved student populations and fuel several initiatives to strengthen the School of Law’s academic programming. Mon, 28 Oct 2019 16:00:00 PDT The Pepperdine community gathered at the Henry J. and Gloria Caruso Auditorium at the School of Law on Wednesday, October 23, to celebrate the announcement of the historic $50 million commitment made by business innovator, civic leader, and philanthropist Rick J. Caruso (JD ’83) and his wife, Tina, to the Pepperdine School of Law earlier in the day. The celebration also commemorated the school’s renaming as the Rick J. Caruso School of Law in recognition of the gift, which will expand educational access to exceptional, historically underserved student populations and fuel several initiatives to strengthen the School of Law’s academic programming.

The ceremony commenced with welcome remarks from Paul L. Caron, the Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the Caruso School of Law, who highlighted the school’s growth in the 50 years since its founding. Caron thanked the Carusos for their generosity, noting the gift’s integral role in supporting students who otherwise would not be able to afford a Pepperdine legal education by reducing their financial burden through scholarships and loan forgiveness programs. The Carusos’ gift will also provide the resources to increase alumni bar passage rates and further enable new graduates to pursue rewarding legal careers. In addition, funds will be allocated to hiring more faculty and providing greater support for current faculty.

“Rick Caruso’s work and life epitomize excellence, faith, and community,” said Caron, adding that Caruso will partner with Pepperdine over the next decade to raise an additional $50 million for the Caruso School of Law. “I can think of no single person who better embodies the character of our law school.”

Pepperdine president Jim Gash (JD ’93) recognized the Caruso family’s legacy as faithful philanthropists who have been instrumental in providing assistance to many communities, both at Pepperdine and at other institutions of higher education, community organizations, and facilities in underserved neighborhoods throughout Southern California. 

“Not just anyone could represent Pepperdine's reputation and make it better just by being who they are,” said President Gash. “But the Carusos' core commitment to faith, to character, to Pepperdine, to building communities, and to making the world better sets them apart.”

Following messages of gratitude from Andrew K. Benton, Pepperdine President Emeritus, and Ronald F. Phillips, senior vice chancellor and School of Law Dean Emeritus, Pepperdine chancellor Sara Young Jackson (’74) shared remarks about the School of Law’s humble beginnings in a Santa Ana shopping center and its current home at the Malibu campus. With Caruso at her side, Jackson formally recognized the milestone moment in the history of the School of Law and officially declared its name the Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law. 

Addressing the audience, Caruso recalled some of his most memorable personal and professional moments, which shared a common theme of faith, family, and community. As he emphasized his educational background and the significance of serving local communities, Caruso honored his father, Henry, who encouraged him to attend Pepperdine Law, discussed the motivation behind one of his first philanthropic projects at a preschool in Downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row, and related the story of a young woman—now an undergraduate student at Boston College—he met years ago through a Los Angeles Police Department mentorship program who aspired to become a psychologist to explore the long-term impact of living in violent neighborhoods like the one in which she spent her formative years.

“How do we support the dream to get into law school, to get into medical school, to get a graduate degree, and then come back and serve your community? That's what this gift is about,” Caruso shared, explaining that access and service are the top two priorities in providing students with the tools they need to help their educational and professional dreams become a reality. 

Thanking the University’s leadership team for its commitment to student success, Caruso reminded the audience that at Pepperdine, “It doesn't matter about your faith, background, or where you came from. You're in an environment where they want you to succeed spiritually, physically, and mentally. That’s a gift. That's a gift to me, that’s a gift my son [Alex (JD ’17)] had, and that’s a gift my family has had.”

Sharing his vision for the future of the Caruso School of Law, he added, “There is no doubt Pepperdine is going to the next level. It will be one of the top law schools in the country, if not in the world. It’s on its way there. There is no stopping it.”

The ceremony closed with a benediction by University chaplain Sara Barton.

To learn more about the Caruso family’s generous gift, visit the Pepperdine University Newsroom.

School of Law
Pepperdine School of Law Announces Historic $50 Million Commitment by Alumnus Rick J. Caruso Business innovator, civic leader, and philanthropist Rick J. Caruso (JD ’83) and his wife, Tina, have made a generous $50 million commitment to the Pepperdine School of Law, which will be named the Rick J. Caruso School of Law in recognition of the historic gift. Wed, 23 Oct 2019 08:15:00 PDT Rick J. Caruso and Tina CarusoBusiness innovator, civic leader, and philanthropist Rick J. Caruso (JD ’83) and his wife, Tina, have made a generous $50 million commitment to the Pepperdine School of Law, which will be named the Rick J. Caruso School of Law in recognition of the historic gift. The contribution, made through the Caruso Family Foundation, will expand educational access to exceptional, historically underserved student populations—a hallmark of the Caruso family’s philanthropic efforts in the Los Angeles area and beyond—as well as fuel several initiatives to strengthen the School of Law’s academic programming. In addition, Rick will partner with the School of Law to raise an additional $50 million in endowment funds over the next decade to continue and expand these initiatives to cement Pepperdine’s place among America’s leading law schools.

“The lack of affordable education in our nation and the student debt crisis is not only inhibiting underprivileged students from gaining equal opportunity to education, but also discouraging potential students from exploring careers in public service, roles that have a critical impact on society,” said Rick. “My sincere hope is that this gift will be one of the first steps towards reducing the barrier to entry for these students and will inspire the next generation of public servants.”

Founded in 1969, the School of Law has remained committed to both academic excellence and its Christian faith heritage that serves a diverse student-focused community. This gift demonstrates the Carusos’ devotion to faith-based education, especially for students who are unable to access life-changing higher education of the highest quality.

“Since 1981, the Caruso family has made extraordinary contributions to Pepperdine’s rise, especially at the School of Law, through their dedicated stewardship,” said Pepperdine president Jim Gash. “This latest gift from Rick and Tina Caruso, made possible by decades of friendship between the Carusos and Pepperdine senior leadership, namely President Emeritus Andrew K. Benton and Senior Vice Chancellor and School of Law Dean Emeritus Ronald F. Phillips, will equip the School of Law to attract extraordinary students drawn to Pepperdine’s unique mission, provide them with enhanced legal training, and launch them into impactful careers that will honor God and change lives. With the Carusos’ unwavering support and the daily work of our students, faculty, and staff, I am confident that the future of Pepperdine and the School of Law is brighter than ever.”

In 1994, Rick and Tina created the Rick J. Caruso Research Fellows Program, which supports the ongoing scholarly work of the School of Law’s faculty, and in 1998 created the Caruso Family Chair in Law. They have also established the Caruso Family Loan Forgiveness Fund—an endowed fund for graduates who are dedicated to a career in public service. To date, 70 students have received financial support through the program. This latest gift will expand the loan forgiveness program, enabling more students to pursue fulfilling careers serving the public by reducing the amount of their student debt. 

“The generosity and commitment demonstrated by Rick Caruso and his family have for decades driven the entire School of Law forward,” said Paul Caron, dean of the School of Law. “With the School of Law currently enjoying its second-highest ranking among the nation’s law schools in its 50-year history, we are well-positioned with this gift to reach even higher in the years to come.”

Supporting Underserved Communities and Individuals in Need

This gift reflects Rick’s long legacy of support and deeply held personal philosophy of giving back to organizations that are transforming lives in Southern California for children living in poverty. He is a primary benefactor to Operation Progress, which guides hundreds of at-risk students in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles to and through college, as well as Para Los Niños, which provides health care, education, and social services to Angelenos living in poverty. He has also made significant donations to other academic institutions, including St. Lawrence of Brindisi School and Verbum Dei High School—schools focused on the historically underserved area of Watts, Los Angeles—as well as the Brentwood School and Loyola High School.

Tina Caruso, Paul Caron, Alex Caruso, Rick J. Caruso“My family and I have witnessed the transformation of lives through the world-class education that I and many of my fellow students and alumni received at the Pepperdine School of Law,” said Rick, whose son, Alex (JD ’17), served as the president of the Student Bar Association as a third-year School of Law student. While at Pepperdine, Alex co-created the Student Emergency Fund, an initiative that provides financial support to law students in need of critical aid during difficult times in their lives. In 2018, the Student Emergency Fund assisted students with urgent needs related to the Woolsey Fire. “Tina and I, along with the entire Caruso family, are proud to be one part of the progress and promise that emerges from a distinguished place of higher education and endows students with life-changing opportunities.”

“Since graduating from Pepperdine Law, I have worked primarily in nonprofits, including TASSC International where I provide direct representation to asylum seekers who have been survivors of torture all over the world,” said alumna Michelle Stilwell (JD ’16). “I have always known that I would work in this sector because I am so passionate about giving back to vulnerable populations who need legal representation the most. However, because of this choice, my student loans have been almost impossible to manage and keep up with. The Caruso Loan Forgiveness Fund has allowed me to continue doing the work I love.”

A Commitment to Civic Engagement and Higher Education

Rick’s deep respect for and commitment to civic responsibility extends beyond his innovative development approach. Early in his career, he served as the youngest commissioner in the city’s history following an appointment by former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley. He later served as president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, where he led the effort to overhaul the Los Angeles Police Department following an appointment by former Los Angeles mayor James K. Hahn (’72, JD ’75). In 1991, Rick and Tina founded the Caruso Family Foundation—an endeavor dedicated to supporting organizations that improve the lives of at-risk children living at or below poverty levels in need of healthcare and education.

Having served as president of the L.A. Police Commission, Rick witnessed first-hand the impact of poverty and lack of opportunity in the city of Los Angeles, as well as the power of education to combat it. “As a city, we need to come together to support underprivileged kids by giving them an education so they can succeed and give back to their own communities,” added Rick. “That’s what it means to be a community.”

Rick’s philanthropic vision has also established a broad legacy of support at institutions of higher education, particularly those programs that serve the communities whose needs align with his personal values. Beyond their decades of generosity at Pepperdine, the Caruso family has made significant contributions to the University of Southern California (USC), Rick’s undergraduate alma mater, where he currently serves as the chair of the university’s Board of Trustees and leads the advisory board of the USC Caruso Catholic Center, which opened in 2012 with support from the Caruso family. In 2015, the Carusos continued their contributions with an endowment to the university’s Keck School of Medicine, creating the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology. In 2013, the Carusos dedicated the Tina and Rick Caruso Community Center at St. Monica Catholic Church.

This milestone gift comes at a propitious time for the School of Law as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The School of Law’s renowned programs include the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, which leads the nation in conflict resolution training and has been ranked Number 1 by U.S. News & World Report among dispute resolution programs for 13 of the last 15 years; the Sudreau Global Justice Program; the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion and Ethics; the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law; and the Rex and Carrol Parris Institute for Professional Excellence.

School of Law
US Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Visits Pepperdine School of Law United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the Pepperdine Law community for a discussion about his new book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It. Wed, 11 Sep 2019 15:15:00 PDT “We need you,” Justice Gorsuch says to law students, discussing his new book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the Pepperdine Law community for a discussion about his new book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It. In a conversation led by Dean Paul Caron, with colleagues David Feder and Tobi Young, Justice Gorsuch reflected on the personal values he formed and stories he collected over decades of a career in the American justice system. “Oh, I’ve got a lot of stories,” he said, opening the program with a smile.

More than 300 Pepperdine Law students and dozens of invited guests packed the school’s Caruso Auditorium for the event. Gorsuch addressed the students especially, gesturing to his book collaborator Feder, one of his former law clerks, who helped him write the book. “You can do this, too,” he said to the students. “You don’t have to be 65 and gray-haired to write a book.”

“I didn’t want to do this book tour without spending time with students at some place” Gorsuch continued. "I wanted to communicate to young people, and young lawyers in particular, why I think our constitution is so incredibly special."

Gorsuch is known for his adherence to originalism, or the interpretation of the Constitution that holds true to the plain text and public meaning at the time of its enactment. “Originalism is about recognizing that we have a republic of we the people, that you own, and I don’t” he told the audience. “The Constitution is what protects that. I’m not saying the Constitution’s perfect - the original version had two major defects. It didn’t have equal rights for women or for minorities. Nine old judges didn’t fix those problems. We the people did.”

The lunchtime program opened with a color guard presentation by law students who are veterans of three different branches of the US military, and a performance of the national anthem by another law student. Having arrived at Pepperdine University on the day of its annual 9/11 memorial service, Justice Gorsuch and his team were able to view Waves of Flags—the 2,977 flags that are planted on the school’s lawn to honor those who died in the 2001 tragedies. His words for students resonated on this occasion. “The one message I want to send to this crowd in particular is the need for courage. Don’t be afraid of a life in public service; we need you.”

About A Republic, If You Can Keep It

Debuting on September 10, 2019, Neil Gorsuch’s latest book shares personal reflections, speeches, and essays that focus on the remarkable gift the framers left us in the Constitution. He draws on his 30-year career as a lawyer, teacher, judge, and justice to explore essential aspects of our Constitution, its separation of powers, and the liberties it is designed to protect. 

School of Law
Pepperdine Law Celebrates 50th Anniversary Pepperdine Law was founded 50 years ago in 1969 Mon, 19 Aug 2019 17:30:00 PDT One morning in 1969, over breakfast at a Denny’s restaurant in Santa Ana, the founders of Orange University College of Law decided to donate their school to a university, and the next year, Pepperdine University announced the opening of its new law school, led by Dean Ronald F. Phillips. 

Fifty years and 75 miles due north later, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, we celebrate our golden anniversary. Since that first year, 10,119 graduates have received degrees from Pepperdine Law. That means 10,119 more lawyers, mediators, and other champions of justice have been trained the Pepperdine way: exemplars of purpose, service, and leadership. 

Visitors will notice the celebration in the DNA of the law school throughout this year. We will add special touches to our events and activities. We will spotlight notable alumni, works of scholarship, and student stories. And we will spread the news about this impressive milestone far and wide, so that the ideals of Pepperdine Law become a mission not just for us, but for the world.

Pepperdine Law has risen further and faster than any other private law school in the country. And we’re just getting started. Join us for the next 50 years. And beyond.

School of Law
Straus Institute Leads National Conversation on Teaching Dispute Resolution at Upcoming Conference The Straus Institute at Pepperdine Law will host a landmark conference centered on dispute resolution teaching and methodology on June 18-19, 2019. Thu, 23 May 2019 16:15:00 PDT The Straus Institute at Pepperdine Law will host a landmark conference centered on dispute resolution teaching and methodology on June 18-19, 2019, in collaboration with American Bar Association and Texas A&M University’s Aggie Dispute Resolution Program.

Titled “Appreciating our Legacy and Engaging our Future,” this international conference convenes leading academics, clinicians, adjuncts, practitioners, and leaders to discuss the history of and recent developments in the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) pedagogy and practice. Pioneering faculty from across the country will engage in thoughtful dialogue on topics from balancing legal skills, ethics and policy in the classroom to the impact of globalization and culture in research.

Panel discussions will focus on a wide array of issues including the future of dispute resolution clinics and public service initiatives to bridge timely societal divides. Featured speakers will include:  

Colin Rule
Vice President of Online Dispute Resolution for Tyler Technologies

Andrea Schneider
Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School

Carrie Menkel-Meadow
Chancellor’s Professor, and Founding Faculty, University of California, Irvine Law School

Leonard L. Riskin
Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law

Tickets are $285 and include all plenary and breakout sessions. For more information, visit the event website.

School of Law
Pepperdine School of Law Announces $2M Endowment of Parris Institute for Professional Formation The Parris Institute, established in 2014 with an initial gift of $1 million, is dedicated to the professional development of first-year law students at Pepperdine Law. Thu, 04 Apr 2019 14:30:00 PDT The Pepperdine School of Law has announced a pacesetting gift by benefactors Carrol and R. Rex Parris to formally endow the Parris Institute for Professional Formation. The Parris Institute, established in 2014 with an initial gift of $1 million, is dedicated to the professional development of first-year law students at Pepperdine Law. An additional $2 million presented in 2019 names the Parris Institute in perpetuity and firmly establishes the Parris family legacy at Pepperdine Law.

A national model for professional leadership training, the Parris Institute is committed to enhancing the core internal character competencies that have marked the great contributions of lawyers throughout human history.

“We are humbled by the continued generosity of Rex and Carrol Parris in funding the critical work of the Parris Institute for Professional Formation, which continues to provide one of the finest law school programs in ethical leadership training for our students," said Paul L. Caron, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the School of Law.

Led by institute director Danny DeWalt, the institute provides all first-year students with training in character and professional development, assistance with planning their law school experience, and exposure to different legal professionals as mentors across practice areas including judges, notable alumni, and entrepreneurs. With the latest gift from the Parris family, the program will expand to serve second- and third-year students as well.

“Our family is proud to announce that we are expanding the reach and impact of the Parris Institute," said R. Rex Parris. “The commitment to fostering the human and professional skills that take a lawyer from great to distinguished is what sets Pepperdine Law apart.”

The institute’s programming is designed to foster the character development, leadership, and professionalism integral to students’ success as members of the legal profession. The four cornerstone areas of the institute are Launch Week, an Introduction to Professional Formation course, the Preceptor Program, and the Parris Awards.

Students kick off their law school experience with Launch Week, a training program focused on legal analysis, academic success, legal ethics, and professional character. In collaboration with the Career Development Office, Introduction to Professional Formation helps students develop their identity as future professionals, learn presentation skills and how to interview, and begin to form their academic and career plans.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to shape the character of the young men and women who come to Pepperdine Law for a premiere legal education,” said Carrol Parris. “Beyond expanding the skill sets of these students, the Parris Institute perhaps most importantly connects future lawyers with current legal professionals who give them practical advice on how to use those skills.”

All first-year students are automatically enrolled in the Preceptor Program, an initiative that connects students with an attorney or judge in the local area. These preceptors agree to serve as mentors for the students throughout their first semester of law school. Since 2014 the program has grown from 75 preceptors to 210, allowing expansion of the program to upper year students.

The Parris Awards, held at the close of each spring semester, seeks to honor third-year students who exhibit the highest order of the pillars of courage, competence, and civility.

Founders of Parris Law in Lancaster, California, the Parrises and their children are fully immersed in the legal profession. Rex is a successful trial attorney and has served as mayor of Lancaster since 2008. Carrol is the law firm’s administrator.

The Parrises’ contributions to Pepperdine through the years have had a deep impact on the University community. Both Rex and Carrol are members of the Crystal Wave Society, which recognizes donors who have given lifetime gifts of $1 million or more. Their first major gift was to Pepperdine’s International Programs in support of the refurbishment of the Pepperdine campus in London where the Parris Family Office has been dedicated in their honor.

Their daughter, Ashley (’01, JD ’05), and sons, Khail (’12, JD ’15) and Rutger (JD ’16), are Seaver College and School of Law alumni.

About Pepperdine University School of Law

The School of Law offers a top-ranked legal education with nationally recognized degree programs committed to the highest principles of professional, ethical, and societal responsibility. With an emphasis on experiential learning, mentorship, faculty accessibility, global justice, and professional formation, Pepperdine Law offers a juris doctorate, two master’s degrees, six joint-degree programs, seven LLM degrees, and five certificate programs. The School of Law houses nine clinics and five institutes, including the globally recognized Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. Follow the School of Law on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



School of Law
Pepperdine Law Ranked 51 by U.S. News and World Report Pepperdine Law is number 51 in the country in 2020 Best Law Schools ranking. Mon, 11 Mar 2019 20:45:00 PDT U.S. News and World Report has ranked Pepperdine Law number 51 in the country in its 2020 Best Law Schools rankings. The newly released rankings reflect a significant increase for Pepperdine Law, which has advanced 21 spots in just two years.

“We are pleased to see the School of Law recognized for the growing excellence of its academic program. In particular, we are proud that the rise in our ranking was driven in part by the improved credentials of our entering class and job placement of our graduating class, as well as our rising reputation among academics, lawyers, and judges," said Paul Caron, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the Pepperdine School of Law. “We are grateful for the efforts of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends who together make Pepperdine Law such a special place.”

Pepperdine Law was also recognized for excellence in several specialty programs in rankings voted on by faculty in those fields, including rankings of #2 in dispute resolution, #32 in tax law, and #33 in clinical training. New this year, voters were given the opportunity to evaluate programs at all eligible law schools.

The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution remains a leader in the field of alternative dispute resolution, having been ranked the number one dispute resolution program by peers in 13 of the last 15 years.

“The Straus Institute has a preeminent record of excellence and expertise in dispute resolution scholarship, training, and global engagement,” said Thomas J. Stipanowich, associate dean of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. “For three decades we have been a leader in preparing effective negotiators, peacemakers, and problem solvers and a driving force for improving the culture of conflict in America and the world.”

The U.S. News and World report may be found here

Information on Pepperdine Law may be found here

School of Law
James A. Gash Named Eighth President and CEO of Pepperdine University Jim Gash is the first alumnus to assume the University's presidential mantle. Wed, 06 Mar 2019 17:15:00 PST James A. Gash, associate dean for strategic planning and external relations and professor of law at the Pepperdine School of Law, has been named the eighth president and CEO of Pepperdine University. Gash is a renowned education administrator, legal scholar, global justice advocate, and attorney. He was selected by the Board of Regents Wednesday afternoon and will succeed Andrew K. Benton on August 1, 2019. Benton announced last March that he planned to step down at the end of the 2018–2019 academic year after 19 years as president.

“The board’s selection of Jim Gash to serve as the next president of Pepperdine is an auspicious moment in the history of this remarkable university,” said Ed Biggers, chair of the Board of Regents. “Throughout his venerable career at Pepperdine and beyond, Jim follows in the footsteps of Pepperdine presidents before him who have demonstrated the kind of inspiration, integrity, strength, and measured leadership that have made this university into the elite academy it is today. We will be fortunate to have Jim’s guiding vision for Pepperdine as we write our next chapter and continue to be a leading university in Christian higher education.”

Biggers also praised the robust participation from the Pepperdine community throughout the search and the work of the Presidential Search Committee, which was led by regent Dale Brown (’64) and committee vice chair Harold Smethills.

“For the past year, the Presidential Search Committee along with the Board of Regents have worked tirelessly to identify the next chapter of Pepperdine leadership,” said Biggers. “I’m grateful for the commitment and support of each of these groups, which have done an exceptional job gathering and listening to community feedback and carefully deliberating the qualities of each candidate.”

As president, Gash will have the primary responsibility for the strategic leadership of the institution. In the coming years, he will lead the University through major initiatives to support the University’s Christian mission and reputation, strengthen student learning and scholarship, enhance faculty research and recruitment, and develop new resources that advance its vision to become a premier, global, Christian university. The first alumnus to assume the University’s presidential mantle, Gash will be formally introduced as president-elect to the Pepperdine community at 9 AM on Monday, March 4 at a special community event in Elkins Auditorium on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus.

As the associate dean for strategic planning and external relations, Gash provides operational oversight for many of the School of Law’s signature development initiatives. As professor, his areas of focus are torts, evidence, global justice, and international human rights. He also serves as the director of the esteemed Sudreau Global Justice Program at Pepperdine Law, is a Special Advisor to the High Court of Uganda, and was recently named chancellor of LivingStone International University in Mbale, Uganda.

Since 2010 Gash has visited Uganda more than 25 times with Pepperdine students to support the Ugandan judiciary and assist the country in its justice reform efforts. In 2016 he published his first book, Divine Collision, which chronicles how his life and the Ugandan criminal justice system were dramatically changed as a result of meeting a Ugandan teenage prisoner during Gash’s first visit to Uganda. The following year, Revolution Pictures released the award-winning and highly acclaimed documentary Remand about the Sudreau Global Justice Program’s transformative work in the developing world.

“Pepperdine has always been a story of unbridled progress and never more so than under the leadership of Andy Benton, who has propelled this university to the highest echelons of Christian higher education in the United States,” said Gash. “I am both humbled and thrilled to have the opportunity to build on his administration’s legacy of growth and excellence, fueled by the imagination, innovation, and creativity of Pepperdine’s talented faculty, staff, students, and alumni around the world.”

Prior to joining the faculty at Pepperdine, Gash worked for the litigation firm DeSimone & Tropio before serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Edith H. Jones, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He later joined Kirkland & Ellis, focusing on civil and appellate litigation, until he joined Pepperdine as an associate professor of law in 1999. Gash is also the recipient of the prestigious Elizabeth Beckman Mentor Award and the Warren Christopher Award, which recognizes the State Bar of California’s international lawyer of the year. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the US District Court for the Central District of California.

Gash received his bachelor’s degree in finance, summa cum laude, from Abilene Christian University in 1989 and his JD, summa cum laude, from the Pepperdine School of Law in 1993. He is married to Joline Gash (’92), and together they have three children, Jessica (’18); Joshua, a Seaver College junior; and Jennifer, a Seaver College first-year.

School of Law
Professor Michael Helfand, The Case Against Yeshivas and the Future of Religious Liberty Article examines the debate over yeshiva educational standards. Wed, 06 Mar 2019 17:00:00 PST Professor Michael A. Helfand's article, "The Case Against Yeshivas and the Future of Religious Liberty," has been published in Tablet magazine.  The article examines the ongoing battles between New York's ultra-orthodox Jewish community and the New York State Education Department over yeshiva educational standards.

Excerpt from "The Case Against Yeshivas and the Future of Religious Liberty"

Legal challenges working their way through the courts pit the deeply felt instinct to protect the welfare of children against the uniquely American devotion to protecting religious liberty that inspired the country’s founding. So far, New York state has ruled to preserve the right to religious practice in areas ranging from schools to dietary laws. But that precedent is being slowly reversed in court cases and legal arguments that hinge on reinterpreting some of the constitution’s foundational precepts and will have far-reaching consequences both for religious communities and broader attitudes towards the freedoms to which they’re entitled.

The complete article may be found here

School of Law
Pepperdine Law Congratulates Caleb Miller Caleb, a Marine Corps veteran, will work at the Reape-Rickett Law Firm. Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:45:00 PST Pepperdine Law is pleased to congratulate it's eighth bell-ringer in celebration of post-graduation employment success, Caleb Miller! Caleb was joined in the festivities by Dean Paul Caron, Dean of Students Naomi Goodno, and members of the Career Development Office and Deans' Suite.

Caleb is working at the Reape-Rickett Law Firm located in Santa Clarita. He found out about the position through the Career Development Office's On-Campus Interviews. After working at the Reape-Rickett Law Firm as a law clerk while in law school, Caleb was offered a post-graduate employment opportunity with the firm.

Caleb is a Marine Corps veteran. His undergraduate degree is in Business Administration and Marketing from Cal State Northridge. During his time at Pepperdine Law, Caleb enjoyed participating on the Trial Team and working as a research assistant for Professor Chris Goodman.

Pepperdine Law is grateful for Caleb's service to our country.

Congratulations, Caleb!

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Dean Paul Caron Quoted in Law Schools Find a Way to Fill Seats Article examines new courses and programs offered by law schools. Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:30:00 PST Dean Paul L. Caron is quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, "Law Schools Find a Way to Fill Seats (No Lawyers Required)." The article examines the various new courses offered by law schools, including master's programs for working professionals and courses for foreign lawyers.

Excerpt from "Law Schools Find a Way to Fill Seats"

Back when he was a full-time tax law professor, Paul Caron publicly questioned the value of some LLMs. Now, as dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, Mr. Caron oversees seven LLM programs, a master of dispute resolution, an online master of legal studies and several certificates. Around 38% of Pepperdine's 780 students are enrolled in non-J.D. programs.

The courses were "designed as a strategic response when the school was looking to secure a sounder financial foundation," Mr. Caron said. But he says they weren't done hastily. The school partnered with online education company 2U Inc. to translate its existing teaching strengths into online courses and launched its master of legal studies in 2017.

The complete article may be found here (subscription required)

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Professor Derek Muller, Diverging Supreme Court Trends May Leave Some Conservatives Out In the Cold Article considers two recent Supreme Court cases. Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:30:00 PST Professor Derek Muller' s op-ed, "Diverging Supreme Court Trends May Leave Some Conservatives Out In the Cold," has been published in the Law and Liberty blog.  The article considers the Supreme Court's choice in hearing two recent cases.

Excerpt from Diverging Supreme Court Trends:

The replacement of Justice Anthony Kennedy was an opportunity for a different kind of Supreme Court, much to the delight of many conservatives and the dismay of many liberals. But December 10, 2018 may be the day that showed us that the Supreme Court of the future may not be the one that all conservatives longed to see.

On that day, the Court considered two cases that addressed concerns long deemed problematic by conservatives. The first was a case that could reconsider the deference federal courts give to federal agencies when the agencies are interpreting their own regulations. The second was a case that could have clarified that federal courts cannot imply a cause of action in a federal statute for private parties when Congress has not expressly done so.

Both cases sound dry. The Court chose to hear one and not the other. And in its decision to do so, it suggested that the Court’s newly configured membership may eschew the concerns of social conservatives.

The complete article may be found here

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Professor Rick Cupp Quoted in An Elephant's Personhood on Trial Professor Cupp addresses recent developments in animal legal personhood litigation. Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:30:00 PST Professor Richard L. Cupp is quoted in the Atlantic article, "An Elephant's Personhood on Trial." The article discusses Professor Cupp's objections to animal legal personhood in context of addressing recent developments related to animal legal personhood litigation.

Excerpt from An Elephant's Personhood on Trial:

Richard Cupp, an animal-law professor at the Pepperdine School of Law, worries that extending rights to animals could ultimately erode our own. “Courts and society might, with this new paradigm, be tempted not only to look at more intelligent animals as being like humans,” he said in a debate with Wise, “but start to think of less intelligent humans a little more like animals.”

Cupp also fears opening a “floodgate of litigation” as animal advocates work their way through the animal kingdom, moving from elephants and chimpanzees to common creatures...

The complete article may be found here

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Pepperdine Law Congratulates Spencer Penuela Spencer will be joining Consumer Law Experts. Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:15:00 PST Pepperdine Law is proud to congratulate its seventh bell-ringer in recognition of post-graduation employment success, Spencer Penuela! Spencer was joined in the celebration by Dean Paul Caron, Associate Dean Jim Gash, Associate Dean Danny DeWalt, Straus Director Shellee Warnes, Director of Alumni Relations, Jessie Fahy, Associate Director of Career Development, Chalak Richards, and many members of the Career Development and Administration Offices. Prior to ringing the bell, Spencer was sworn in as a new member of the California Bar. A special guest at both the swearing in and bell ringing ceremonies was Spencer's father, Alan Penuela.

Spencer will soon be joining Consumer Law Experts, located in Los Angeles, as an Associate Attorney. He learned of the position through the Career Development Office.  Spencer came to Pepperdine Law after completing his undergraduate degree at Cal State Channel Islands. Spencer greatly enjoyed participating in the Restoration and Justice Clinic and trial advocacy while at Pepperdine Law.

Congratualtions, Spencer!

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