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Pepperdine Law Establishes Memorial Scholarship

The Honorable Beverly Reid O’Connell Memorial Scholarship

In recognition of Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell (JD ’90) and her remarkable achievements in the legal profession, Pepperdine Law has established The Honorable Beverly Reid O’Connell Memorial Scholarship.

From Pepperdine University School of Law:

The Honorable Beverly Reid O’Connell Memorial Scholarship will carry on the great legacy of one of our most treasured alumni. A 1990 graduate of the Pepperdine School of Law, Judge O’Connell continued to hold the school near and dear to her heart throughout her life, and she will be greatly missed by her alma mater. We are honored that her family has chosen to celebrate her life through this scholarship, and we invite you to join us in honoring one of the School of Law’s brightest stars.

About Judge O’Connell

Not only did Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell have a tremendous impact on the lives of the staff, faculty, students, and fellow alumni of Pepperdine Law, she was a giant in the Los Angeles legal community.

Following law school, Judge O’Connell practiced law for five years at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster. She then joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California as a US attorney in the criminal division. Judge O’Connell worked in that capacity until she was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2005.

After serving in the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, Judge O’Connell was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2012, Judge O’Connell became Pepperdine Law’s first article III judge after she was appointed by President Barack Obama. As then Dean Deanell Reece Tacha, former Chief Judge of the 10th Circuit, said, “Judge O’Connell’s appointment is an important new milestone in the history of this school.”

The School of Law had great personal as well as professional meaning for Judge O’Connell, who met her husband, Daniel O’Connell (JD ’90), in the Pepperdine law library during her 2L spring break. The two married shortly after commencement, and both went on to prestigious careers as public servants in the state of California. They have both been actively involved as alumni, serving in any capacity asked of them. As Pepperdine Professor Derek Muller (who worked with Judge O’Connell on the federal externship and clerkship programs) put it, “She was the kind of alumna schools dream about having.”

Over the years, Judge O’Connell stayed connected with her alma mater by serving on the Board of Visitors, hiring and mentoring Pepperdine students, teaching classes and legal education courses for alumni, and speaking to recently admitted students. Judge O’Connell traveled to Uganda with Pepperdine’s Sudreau Global Justice Program in 2015 to participate in the first-ever plea bargaining conference in the country’s history.

One of Judge O’Connell’s favorite Pepperdine events was the swearing-in of recent graduates to the California and Federal Bar. She would often preside over the ceremonies with her close friends on the federal and state bench, Judge Andre Birotte, Jr. (JD ’91), and Justice Tricia Bigelow (JD ’86). In 2015, in recognition of her many career accomplishments and tremendous devotion to Pepperdine and its students, Judge O’Connell received the Pepperdine University School of Law Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award.

Judge O’Connell passed away on October 8, 2017 at the age of 52. When news of her passing became public, the Pepperdine flag flew at half-staff to honor her as the entire Pepperdine community mourned her loss.

Join Judge O’Connell’s Legacy

Given Judge O’Connell’s most impressive record of achievement in the legal profession, as well as her great passion and support for her alma mater, her family invites you to participate in her legacy by giving to the Honorable Beverly Reid O’Connell Memorial Scholarship. Open to all law students for consideration, the scholarship will be given to one or more students each year who embody the characteristics that Judge O’Connell personified.

Gifts can also be mailed to the Pepperdine Fund, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263-4579. Please insert the official name of the scholarship in the memo line.

We also encourage you to use the website to write messages and share photos to honor Judge O’Connell’s memory. If you would like to send a private message or photo for Pepperdine to forward along to her family, please e-mail Alumni Director Jessie Fahy at jessie.fahy@pepperdine.edu.

Thank you for honoring Judge O’Connell.