Did your natural aptitude for speech and debate activities in high school inspire you to pursue the law as a career?
It was actually the other way around. My desire to pursue the law as a career inspired me to participate in speech and debate in high school. It helped me immensely in improving my communication skills, both spoken and in writing.
What was the transition like for you from Knox College for undergrad to Pepperdine Law School?
The transition was actually pretty smooth. One of the things I loved the most about my undergraduate experience was the professors' open door policy and the kindness and willingness of the staff and faculty to help students and to really become invested in their lives. When I came to Pepperdine and my 1L professors all gave us their home phone numbers on the first day of class I knew that I had found a similar place in Pepperdine, and over the course of the next 3 years I was proven absolutely right.
Why did you choose Pepperdine to study law?
I always knew that I wanted to end up in Los Angeles so I concentrated my law school search in the area. I didn't have the chance to study abroad while I was in undergrad so I was drawn to Pepperdine because of the London program. I also just got the sense from all of my interactions with people at the school that it would be a good fit for me.
What were some highlights of your time at the Law School?
My first year I lived in George Page and I had some amazing times just hanging out with the friends I made there. I still keep in touch with most of them. I also had an amazing experience studying in London. I got to intern in an office there and it made the experience so much more real to have co-workers and see how people went about their day to day lives rather than just seeing the sights like a tourist.
You earned a certificate from the Palmer Center – did it charge your entrepreneurial spirit? How so?
I didn't realize I had an entrepreneurial spirit until I started taking some of the classes required for the Palmer Center. I found them very interesting. Then I had to write a business plan, which turned out to be one of the most enlightening things I've ever done. To come up with an idea and fully think through how to turn that into a business and then try to make a profit is a really great exercise. It made me appreciate the business world a lot more than I ever had before. It is also largely responsible for pushing me in the direction of in-house legal work instead of a law firm.
What stands out to you about your time as in-house attorney for JAKKS Pacific, Inc.?
I loved getting to be a bit of a business person as well as an attorney. I always had to keep in mind that the best answer for the business was not always the least risky, that was a big adjustment. I also had to learn to communicate in a new way so that I could explain complex legal concepts to overworked and rushed business people who just wanted an answer. It was also great to have a single client that I could get to know really well.
How were you able to weather the challenging moments on the job?
I just had to take a deep breath and keep on going. I've usually found that the most rewarding things come from conquering the most difficult challenges.
What was the journey back to Pepperdine's law school like?
Well I never went too far away. My former company is located about a mile down PCH from Pepperdine so I never even left Malibu. I was also surrounded by other Pepperdine Law alums in my legal department and as outside counsel. I always felt like a part of the community. The last Alumni Director was a friend, and she would invite me to participate in various events on campus from time to time since I was so close. I always loved coming back to Pepperdine. The people are just so nice and welcoming it was always like my batteries got recharged when I came here. I'm so excited to be back here all the time to get to be a part of that great energy and to be passing it along to another generation of future alumni.
What are some of your plans for Alumni Affairs as its new director?
This year is all about introducing Dean Tacha to the alumni community. She is really great and I think that our alums are going to love her. I want to make sure that she meets as many of them as possible. I'm also keenly aware of how difficult the job market is out there right now so I want to work on creating as strong a network of alumni as possible to really support each other. I want to make meaningful connections between alums of different generations and across different practice areas. I think it is really important that we all support each other not only with employment opportunities, but also by giving of our knowledge and experience.
If you could tell the law alumni one thing, what would it be?
Make Pepperdine and your fellow alums a priority. If we all prioritize one another then we can create a strong and trusting network of people that can really rely on one another and be supportive through all of life's challenges, even after law school.
Do you have a guiding motto (or philosophy) for your career and your life? Where did it come from?
I have two. First and foremost, the golden rule: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I think that one simple sentence provides so much guidance and wisdom that it is never far from my mind. The second is a quote from the movie Strictly Ballroom, one of my favorites: "a life lived in fear is a life half lived." It reminds me not to miss out on opportunities because I'm too worried about the risks.