More than 100 members of the Pepperdine Law community welcomed Andŕe Birotte to The Mendenhall Appellate Courtroom in September for a candid discussion of Birotte's career.
A 1991 graduate of the Pepperdine School of Law, Birotte's rise to the U.S. Attorney's office has inspired law students throughout the state, and most notably at his alma mater.
"I am at home here and among family," Birotte noted. "I owe a lot to Pepperdine for giving me a shot at success."
A native of New Jersey, Birotte graduated from Tufts University in 1987 and spent one year working for an area law firm before he received a pamphlet in the mail from Pepperdine. He jokingly admitted that the photo of a nearly beachfront university was the first thing to grab his attention in the midst of a frigid, east coast winter.
Birotte travelled to California for the first time to visit the Malibu campus and the photo, though still striking, was no longer the focus. Instead, the young attorney-to-be was taken by the warmth and support of the faculty and administrators that greeted him during his visit.
His focus as a student at Pepperdine was primarily on becoming a public defender. His reasoning, Birotte says, is that he simply wanted to give back.
"I am a believer in doing right by your community," he said.
Upon completing his time at Pepperdine, Birotte began a stint as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles, eventually working his way up to becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney. In 2009, he was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Calfornia, one of the largest districts in the nation, representing seven counties and close to 19 million people. His meeting with President Obama upon being sworn in became one of the most memorable moments of Birotte's life.
He recalled, "The president congratulated us and said 'you don't work for me, you work for the people in your district. Your job is to do right by those you represent."
Birotte closed by encouraging interested students to apply for externships with his office, and to utilize the resources in the Pepperdine Law faculty. He also promoted the idea of choosing a legal career that focuses on serving others.
"In my own life, in my own small way, I've tried to give back to the country that has done so much for me."
Rick Cupp, vice-dean of the Pepperdine School of Law, applauded Birotte's work and his service as a role model. "Mr. Birotte is an ideal role model, not only in his career success but also in his concern for guiding our students toward their own success," he said. "He did an outstanding job of motivating students to act purposefully and with confidence, to take control of their careers, and to give back to the community and the profession."