Pepperdine University School of Law celebrated commencement for the Class of 2010 at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 21, in Alumni Park. Honorary Doctorate recipient Blake Morant, dean of the Wake Forest University Law School, addressed the graduates. André Birotte (JD '91), United States Attorney for the Central District of California, was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
The ceremony also featured members of the Class of 2010. Emily Smith gave the invocation; Candice J. Martin led the Pledge of Allegiance; Alyson Gale Challoner sang the national anthem; and Brian A. Link gave the student address. Thanking friends and family, Link called it a great privilege to be standing alongside his classmates. "We go forth into the world as servant leaders," he said.
Distinguished Alumnus André Birotte gave remarks about his own experience at Pepperdine and the mentorship he received at the school. "When I drove out to California in 1988, I didn't know a soul. Pepperdine became my family."
In his speech, Dean Morant noted that he started as dean when the Class of 2010 began law school--in 2007. He gave advice to the graduating class, saying, "Because you are so gifted, so much will be expected of you. You must always look for ways to give back."
Blake D. Morant is the dean of the Wake Forest University School of Law, a position he assumed in 2007. He previously served as associate dean for academic affairs, the Roy L. Steinheimer, Jr. Professor of Law, and director of the Frances Lewis Law Center at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.
Morant’s academic career has included positions at the American University’s Washington College of Law, the University of Toledo College of Law, the University of Michigan Law School, and the University of Alabama School of Law, where he occupied the John S. Stone Visiting Professor’s Chair. In 2001 he was a Visiting Fellow at University College, Oxford University.
The recipient of many teaching awards, Morant has published extensively on topics including contract theory, media law, and administrative law. Morant’s professional service includes chair of the American Bar Association Committee on Diversity, former member of the editorial board of the Journal of Legal Education, the Professional Development and Nominating Committees of the Association of American Law Schools, and the Virginia Supreme Court’s Task Force. He presently serves as a vice president of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Morant was the first American to deliver the Annual Thomas More Commemorative Lecture at St. Dunstan’s Church, Canterbury, England. Upon his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army J.A.G. Corps, he received the Meritorious Service Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster. He was recently inducted into the Raven Society at the University of Virginia.
Morant took his bachelor’s degree with High Distinction from the University of Virginia and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He was a Ribble-Kennedy and Earl Warren Scholar at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he took his law degree.
André Birotte, Jr., is the United States attorney for the Central District of California. Nominated by President Obama in December 2009, Birotte was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was sworn into office on March 4, 2010. The Central District is the second largest U.S. Attorney’s office in the nation, with approximately 275 Assistant U.S. Attorneys serving seven Southern California counties (including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura) and their 18 million residents.
His experience at the Central District ranges back more than 10 years when he first served as an assistant United States attorney from 1995 to 1999. Prior to his current position, Birotte had been appointed by the Los Angeles Police Commission as inspector general of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), overseeing audits, investigations, and compliance with the mandates of the federal Civil Rights Consent Decree. He had been serving previously as an assistant inspector general. Birotte’s investigative and collaborative successes with both the police and community groups as inspector general prompted U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein to recommend him to President Obama for his current post.
Prior to his association with the LAPD and the Los Angeles Police Commission, Birotte worked for the law firm of Quinn Emmanuel where he represented clients in white-collar crime and commercial litigation matters. Previous to that, he also served as a deputy public defender for the County of Los Angeles representing indigent clients charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses.
In 2008, Birotte received the Wind Beneath My Wings Award from the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives.. Birotte received his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University. He earned his J.D. from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 1991.