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Pepperdine Honors Ron Phillips at the 34th Annual Law School Dinner

Deans from left to right: Charles Nelson, Richardson Lynn, Ron Phillips, Ken Starr, Tom Bost, and dean-designate Deanell Reece Tacha. 

Pepperdine University School of Law celebrated 40 years of Ron Phillips at the 34th Annual Law School Dinner on March 5 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Phillips, senior vice chancellor and School of Law dean emeritus, is often referred to as the “architect and administrator of the Pepperdine University School of Law.” Phillips served as dean for twenty-seven years before becoming dean emeritus in 1997.

One of the many alumni to pay tribute to Phillips throughout the event was the Honorable Eileen C. Moore (JD '78), associate justice of the California Court of Appeal. "I was inspired to attend law school after serving as a nurse in the Vietnam War, and I found the Pepperdine Law School community under the leadership of Dean Phillips to be an enclave of civility amidst a world in turmoil," she recalled. "While I was in law school, Dean Phillips helped me secure an internship with the District Attorney’s office, and was later instrumental in my appointment to both the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals."

Law student Alyssa Ayotte, who first joined Pepperdine as executive assistant to Phillips, said, "As a current student, I am grateful for the foundation laid by Dean Phillips that makes it possible for me to study in a place that is steadfastly committed to both academic excellence and Christian values."

Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton presented Phillips with the 2011 Robert H. Jackson Award for his exemplary four-decade career as founding dean and as dean emeritus and senior vice chancellor. Previous recipients of the Jackson Award include the Honorable Chief Justice John Roberts, Ambassador John Bolton, and former Chief Justice of California, Malcolm M. Lucas.

A member of the state bars of California and Texas, the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, the Los Angeles Bar Association, and the Christian Legal Society, Phillips was a California commissioner of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws from 1988 to 2003.

A Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, he was the chair of the section on the Administration of Law Schools in 1982, was on the Committee on Courts from 1985 to 1987. He is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Military Appeals. Prior to his deanship at Pepperdine, Phillips had a private law practice and was an adjunct professor at Abilene Christian University, as well as being a corporate staff attorney at McWood Corporation and its successor, the Permian Corporation, also in Abilene, Texas.

"I am deeply blessed," said Phillips. "Few people have been able to spend such a significant portion of their lives in such a rewarding endeavor."

Earlier in the day on March 5, Pepperdine hosted the 37th annual Vincent S. Dalsimer Moot Court Competition. The final round was judged by three judges each of whom will have a Pepperdine law clerk next year. The final round bench included the Honorable Emilio Garza, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; the Honorable Ronald Lew, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Ninth Circuit; and the Honorable Raymond Gruender, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

During his remarks, Interim Dean Tom Bost announced the winners of the competition. The First Place Team was William Glaser and Brent Kampe, and Second Place Team was Dustin May and David Rowe. Dean Bost also announced the award for 1L Professor of the Year, which went to Naomi Goodno and 2L and 3L Professor of the Year, which was given to Barry McDonald.

Learn more about the 34th Annual Law School Dinner.