Deanell Reece Tacha, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law, was featured on KRLA's Champions of Justice broadcast in January, addressing her goals of leading Pepperdine Law and its students into the future.
"What great accomplishments of somebody to have given so much of her life to the system of justice, and now giving so much of her life to making sure that new lawyers that enter the fray here have the background, experience, intelligence, civility, and integrity that she preaches," said cohost Thomas Girardi, founding member of the law firm Girardi and Keese and member of the California State Bar Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. "What a wonderful thing that has happened here to Pepperdine to have obtained this person to be their dean."
Girardi noted his longtime interest in welcoming Tacha to the show, and asked the former Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, why she chose Pepperdine after serving in the federal judiciary. Tacha responded, noting her 25 years of service as a judge and her interest in returning to legal education at a time deemed difficult for legal education.
She stated her desire to have an effect on the next generation of lawyers and to "make them very much a part of the public square of civil discourse and civilized debate. I am terribly worried about the tone of civic conversation. And lawyers historically have been those who led us in our building this republic and in the various challenges we've met in almost 250 years." She expressed interest in directing students to become "models of the rule of law in their communities, in Congress, in all the highways and byways, not just of this nation, but of the world."
The conversation went on to address a lawyer's responsibility to the public and to conduct an ethical practice. Tacha said she encourages students to "step out and be a part of the larger discussion, and model not just civil discourse, but model high ethical standards." Acknowledging the lawyers that drafted the constitution, Tacha said, "they crafted a government on very few words, but on the amazingly idealistic notion that we would have the ethics, the education, and the commitment to take that legacy of a great republic and make it better over the centuries, and I believe that is the job of lawyers."
Also discussed was the disassociation between lawyers and degrading of the legal profession in the recent past. In response to Girardi's statement that "law schools have not done a great job in terms of teaching lawyers about civility and problem solving," Tacha noted that she asked recent first year law students why they chose law school and specifically Pepperdine. Among their answers, she said, was Pepperdine's Global Justice Program.
"It was not about going to the big firms," she said, adding students' desire to serve others and not themselves. "It was not about some of the more what I would call personal motivations. They were a bit more selfless motivations."
Tacha also addressed Pepperdine's mission to lives of purpose, service, and leadership, noting the law school's interest in creating students who are "advocates for causes and not adversaries against each other."
In addition to the Global Justice Program, Girardi and Tacha discussed the successes of the various other branches of Pepperdine Law and the extensive contributions of alumni.
When asked about her legacy as dean, Tacha said, "It's not about me. It's about affecting the future and training those to be better than you are." She concluded with a quote by Jonas Salk, referencing his effort to find a vaccine for polio: "I just want to be a good ancestor."