Dean's Message | About Us | School of Law | Pepperdine University

Dean's Message

School of Law Dean Deanell Reece Tacha

At a time when many are asking whether a legal education is a good choice for students seeking a rich and rewarding career, I say resoundingly that the answer is definitely "yes".  The Pepperdine University School of Law is committed to serving our students by preparing them for lives of purpose, service, and leadership in a legal and world environment that is changing rapidly.  When I chose to go to law school I could not possibly have predicted that I would have had the opportunity to be a legal aid lawyer, a practitioner in both large and small firms, a law teacher, a judge, and an academic administrator, but I have had all of those varied experiences.  So it is for today's law students.  You cannot predict the many paths that a legal education will open for you.  This law school fashions the law school experience around building lawyers who are equipped personally and professionally to model the highest ideals of the legal profession as counselors, problem-solvers, dispute resolvers, litigators, entrepreneurs, and the myriad other ways that professionals trained in the law serve their clients and society.

The Pepperdine Law faculty and staff are deeply committed to the highest standards of academic excellence, Christian values, and professional responsibility.  Each first-year student will be part of the Parris Institute for Professional Formation in which students will explore the professional values that shape the most outstanding lawyers.  A distinguished faculty with extraordinary credentials as teachers and scholars puts students first.  They are dedicated to excelling as classroom teachers, mentoring outside the classroom, and encouraging the rich array of talents and abilities that our talented students possess. We live out this commitment by placing a high priority upon student-faculty interaction and creating a law school environment that challenges and inspires students to engage with faculty, staff, and members of the profession throughout their law school careers.

Some of the debate swirling around legal education centers around the need to prepare lawyers for the employment experiences they will encounter.  We agree that the purpose of a legal education is to train lawyers who can adapt easily to whatever professional settings they choose.  That preparation includes rigorous doctrinal grounding in both the substance and the methodology of the law.  Most of the work of the lawyer is learning analytical and problem-solving skills that will be readily adaptable to the many settings where lawyers work.  Thus, the doctrinal courses provide the analytical framework and draw upon the cutting-edge scholarship of legal academics.  This doctrinal foundation then must be combined with a wide array of experiential learning opportunities.  Pepperdine Law is very proud to offer to our students a rich mix of doctrinal framework and experiential learning settings.  We place a special premium on honing the legal writing and advocacy skills of our students.  Our trial and appellate moot court programs excel nationally.  The Straus Institute is the top-ranked dispute resolution program in the nation and equips students to be leaders in peaceful conflict resolution.  The Palmer Center propels aspiring entrepreneurs to use their law degrees to reach exciting new horizons in business, real estate, and the media.  The Global Justice Program sends students around the globe to serve the legal needs of those who need the help of lawyers so much.  Our many clinical and externship programs place students in actual practice settings to observe and learn about the work of lawyers.  In those placements, Pepperdine students have tried cases, made other court appearances, argued appeals, and drafted business documents, all before graduating from law school.

In short, Pepperdine Law is preparing lawyers who will be well positioned to be leaders in a changing legal profession.  The vibrant environment of this law school encourages personal, intellectual, spiritual, and visionary growth.  This is an exciting time to be going to law school.  Pepperdine is an exciting place to move into the legal profession of the future.

Deanell Reece Tacha
Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law