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A Genius at Work

It's no shocker that a valedictorian likes school. Selina Farrell, first in her School of Law Class of 1992, says she carries a lifelong love of academics. But Selina, who joined Pepperdine as an assistant professor of law and assistant dean for career development in June, has a few more talents up her sleeve.

Besides academics, she has sharp business acumen, formed early on in her career. As a student at Oregon State University she studied finance and economics. Upon graduation, she entered the business world, working her way up from department manager to the buying office for a retail company. Although she excelled at work, Selina missed the challenges college provided. She began to consider law school, and she applied and was accepted to three schools in Oregon plus Pepperdine. As it turns out, Pepperdine's unique affirmation statement coupled with the sunny beach photos in their glossy brochures lured her to study law in Malibu.

Despite typical first-year anxiety, Selina thrived in law school. She became Editor in Chief of the Pepperdine Law Review and excelled in her courses. "I really liked all of my classes and professors," she says. As far as standouts, the praise goes to Professor Popovich and Professor McGoldrick, since they "made the law come alive" for Selina. As she became inspired by her professors, the thought that she could someday teach crossed her mind, and she sought to position herself in way to be in the market for teaching law.

Out of law school, Selina landed a job with the Los Angeles firm Latham & Watkins, and dove wholeheartedly into her corporate and partnership tax practice. She enjoyed working for a large firm because of the opportunities it provided to truly dig into legal research and analysis, find the "hook," and analyze an issue from all angles. As a first year associate in the fall of 1992, Selina found another positive element about working at the firm: an extraordinarily nice guy named Joe Farrell, who was at that time a third-year associate. From the time they met, working together on a case involving Altman's Winnebago and Cruise America, they felt connected, and two years later they married.

Selina graduated valedictorian in
the Class of 1992.

In the middle of a several years of work at Latham and additional work as a litigation associate for Debevoise & Plimpton in Los Angeles, Selina and Joe started their family. On her maternity leave, Selina, who could have written the book on habits of effective people, started her own internet business called Cute As A Bug, LLC, in her so-called "down time."

Since she was familiar with retail buying practices, she knew a lot about clothing and wanted to supply high-quality children's clothing on the internet. She began with a basic website offering cotton children's pajamas. "It was fun," she says. "I just sat back and waited to see what would happen, and as it turns out, it grew rapidly." From the simple website, she grew the company to 7 employees and sold over $475,000.00 in merchandise in the business's second year of operation. In 2000, she sold Cute As A Bug's customer list, trademark, and domain name to the corporation Baby Style.

Selina's eclectic talents don't end there, however. Over the next years, Selina wrote for numerous and different mediums,, from articles for Orange County Parenting and other family-related publications to her own draft cookbook (still in progress). She jokes that her husband feels safest when she's working full time, since she is less likely to start new entrepreneurial ventures out of their dining room.

After 11 years of practicing law, Selina found an opportunity to teach. She began teaching legal research and writing, one of her favorite subjects, at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa. She later married the skills of guiding young attorneys with providing career advice when she became a "headhunter" (more formally titled, attorney placement director) for Special Counsel, Inc., in Newport Beach. Through this work she began interacting with her alma mater, inquiring to Stacy Taylor, director of alumni affairs, and Jim Gash, associate dean for student life, about Pepperdine students and alumni seeking a job transition.

The three became a lot closer earlier this spring when Pepperdine's Career Development Office was in flux, and School of Law leadership thought immediately of Selina. Jim went as far as to say the School had "a Selina-shaped hole" that he encouraged her to fill.

After a couple of months as an associate director of career development, Selina accepted the sizeable position of assistant dean, which includes managing the law school's career services and professional development programs, working closely with employers and alumni to secure and expand employment opportunities for Pepperdine's students and graduates, and counseling students regarding their career goals and job search strategies. "It just felt right to return at that moment, and I'm so happy to be back," she says.

Selina and Joe Farrell with their sons Joseph and
Ryan. Joe is a partner at Latham & Watkins, where
he's worked for 19 years. Joe and Selina recently
celebrated 13 years of marriage.

Together with the new director of career development, Mireille Butler, Selina is committed to revolutionizing the way the career development team helps students. "You can call us Thelma and Louise," says Selina, referring to her partnership with Mireille, "because we plan to shake things up - in a good way, of course."

The new initiatives include significantly bettering the Career Development Office customer service experience for students and employers, providing more professional development and job opportunities for students and alumni, and getting the word out about Pepperdine's accomplished students. In her research, Selina has found that some of the legal community's perceptions about the school are 10 years old or older, but she doesn't plan to let it stay that way. "The fact is we're the fastest-rising law school in the nation," says Selina, referring to Pepperdine's advancement over any other law school with a 21-point jump in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, "and we have a highly competitive student body."

To accomplish their goals, Selina and her office have solicited input from various groups, launching student and alumni surveys, and focus groups. In their bid to substantially increase job opportunities for students, they are currently growing their fall recruiting program to include a larger number of employers than programs from recent years. "In the career development office, we're building something that that I hope will make us all proud," says Selina.

In keeping with her nature, Selina will find time to incorporate another element into her massive career development undertaking: serving as assistant professor of law. In the fall of 2007, she will work alongside Dean Ken Starr teaching a remedies course.

She probably won't have time to for a side business, but considering her accomplishments, never say never.