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Parris Institute for Professional Formation

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Resolve to be honest at all events;
and if in your own judgement you cannot be an honest lawyer,
resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.
Abraham Lincoln, 1850



The Parris Institute of Professional Formation was established to cultivate, in each Pepperdine law student, an abiding passion and mastery of the four cardinal virtues as the foundation of a life of excellence and leadership.




Building on the 2007 Carnegie Report naming three conceptual "apprenticeships" in legal education: 1) cognitive reasoning, 2) lawyer skills and 3) the formation of a moral core, the Parris Institute is committed to elevate the third apprenticeship by emphasizing the importance of integrating the discussion of professional purpose and virtues within the first two apprenticeships.

These three apprenticeships can be identified within the Pepperdine Law School experience generally as follows:

1. Learning to think like a lawyer
     Doctrinal courses

2. Learning to act like a lawyer
     Skills courses, Clinics, Externships, Legal Ethics

3. Learning to be a good lawyer
     Introduction to Professional Formation
     Professional Life Series
     Formation of Professional Purpose and Virtues

Key Objectives of the Parris Institute

     Excellence in mastering the four cardinal virtues.

     Excellence in being an advocate for justice marked by mastering an internalized moral core.

     Excellence in living a well-balanced life marked by mastering physical, emotional and spiritual health.

     Excellence in leadership marked by the desire to serve others.

     Excellence in thinking like a lawyer marked by the mastery of legal reasoning and writing.

     Excellence in partnering with the faculty's efforts to integrate the mastery of legal reasoning and writing, the mastery of clinical and professional skills, and the mastery of personal and professional values.

Preceptor Program

All 1L students will be connected to a practicing lawyer or judge who has volunteered to mentor Pepperdine law students during their first year. The mentorship is designed to give 1Ls the opportunity to ask questions about law school and practicing law in order to give perspective and context to the challenging first year curriculum.

Faculty Mentors

All 1L students will be connected to a faculty mentor who will be available to walk with students through their first year of law school. Pepperdine faculty care deeply for our students and desire to know them personally and professionally.

Student Mentors

All 1L students will be connected to two upper division student mentors who are available to talk and listen and help students make the adjustment to law school and any issues which may arise.

Professional Mentors

Students desiring a mentor during their 2L or 3L years can be paired with a mentor in the student's preferred practice area.  These are optional mentorships.  Interested upper division students and mentors should contact The Parris Institute or Alumni Relations to indicate their interest and practice area.  The Parris Institute will work to match the student with an exceptional mentor.  We encourage students and professional mentors to commit to a minimum of two meetings per semester.

The Parris Institute:  Danny DeWalt   (310) 506-7204
Alumni Relations:     Jessie Fahy      (310) 506-4762