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46th Annual School of Law Dinner Celebrates the Rise of Pepperdine Law

April 5, 2019 | With so many successes to celebrate, the 46th Annual School of Law Dinner offered an even more meaningful reason for the entire community—our school family—to come together in one place and commemorate our collective achievements. Nearly 1,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and guests gathered at the Beverly Hilton to reflect upon the stellar accomplishments and honors of the year gone by and the triumphs yet to come. The theme for this year's dinner – "On the Rise" – reflected the truly amazing journey the School of Law has taken in its first 50 years of existence.

In his welcoming remarks, Dean Paul Caron said, "I could not be more excited about the current state, and future, of Pepperdine Law." He added, "I believe we are doing important work fulfilling God's call upon our lives to send more and more Pepperdine-trained lawyers out into our hurting nation and world."

Charles Eskridge III, Class of 1990, and Jack L. White, Class of 2003, introduced the evening's program. Carmen Cole, an attorney with the Polsinelli firm and a 2001 graduate of the School of Law, delivered the invocation before third-year law student Colten Stanberry led the Pledge of Allegiance. Finally, third-year law student Rmani Crawford gave an always crowd-pleasing rendition of the National Anthem.

Guests were thrilled when it was then announced that all five deans of the Pepperdine School of Law were in attendance, and each dean was introduced by one of his or her former students. In an unforgettable moment of Pepperdine Law history, Deans Ronald Phillips, Richardson Lynn, Kenneth Starr, Deanell Reece Tacha, and Paul Caron gathered on stage and were presented jerseys with numbers representing their deanship.

As the dinner began, third-year law student Asha Madhukar delivered a show-stopping performance of Blessed Assurance.

In his poignant remarks, Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton shared, "So much of Pepperdine's overall success has been driven by the law school, thanks in large part to the distinguished deans...and given the strength and vision of the school's current leadership, I see no reason why that shouldn't continue."

President Benton then introduced President-elect Jim Gash as the eighth president of Pepperdine University. Turning to President Benton, Gash said, "Honestly, I'm not sure which is the greater challenge, helping a developing nation overhaul its justice system or filling your shoes. I was extremely fortunate to have God inspiring and guiding me through the first challenge, and I have no doubt I'll be relying on Him as I attempt the second."

President-elect Gash then introduced the evening's panel of featured speakers and special guests, including the Honorable Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and alumna Brittney Lane Kubisch. Kubisch, a member of the Class of 2012 and a national award-winning participant on the Pepperdine Law moot court team, clerked under Justice Thomas following her graduation.

In the traditional "grand finale" for our School of Law galas, the presentation of awards to outstanding students, preceptors, and faculty was led by alumnus Alex Caruso, Class of 2017, and alumna Jennifer Snitko, Class of 2002.

46th annual Vincent S. Dalsimer Appellate Advocacy Competition Winners and Finalists

Best Brief: Anna Goodman and Matthew Myatt

Best Oral Advocate: Matthew Myatt

Overall Second Place Team: Colten Stanberry and Richard Chagoury

First-Place Team Award: Anna Goodman and Matthew Myatt

Congratulations to these outstanding students, and many, many thanks to the judges who gave generously of their time and talents to participate in the Dalsimer competition.

One of the reasons that Pepperdine Law has been "on the rise" is our distinguished and dedicated alumni community, whose members have eagerly given of their time, effort, and legal expertise to aid our first-year law students. Each year, we grant the Otto P. Cipolla Preceptor of the Year award to these these caring and engaged School of Law graduates. The Otto P. Cipolla Preceptor of the Year Award was then presented to Nannina Angioni, Class of 2005, and Joshua Lastine, Class of 2014.

Finally, members of the faculty were recognized for the excellence they have displayed over the past year in both scholarship and teaching.

Faculty Recognitions

Dean's Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Professor Babette Boliek and Professor Barry McDonald

2L/3L Professor of the Year

Professor Bernard James

1L Professor of the Year

Professor Peter Wendel

To conclude the dinner program, Peter Wendel, last year's recipient of the Skip McDermott Teaching award, was then invited onstage to present this year's award for distinction in teaching to Professor Steven Schultz.

We are extremely grateful to all of the generous sponsors, administrators, students, and staff who made this year's event possible. We also wish to recognize the alumni and friends who serve the School of Law on its Board of Advisors, whose leadership has been vital to the school's rising fortunes. We will continue "on the rise," together.

For a full photo gallery from this year's School of Law Dinner, please visit our Facebook page.

Click here to watch the complete featured conversation with Justice Thomas.