50 for 50 Spotlight: Jennifer Perdigao (JD '00)
Jennifer Perdigao is passionate about two things–the law and aviation. Hailing from Manhattan Beach, CA, this alumna of the Class of 2000 calls her career as an aviation attorney a "natural fit." Growing up in the orbit of her grandfather, a pilot in World War II, Peridgao always dreamt of flying. She is now a licensed pilot who enjoys helping other women pursue aviation-related careers. In her own career as Partner and Co-Chair of the Transportation Practice Group at Tressler LLP, Perdigao's practice includes insurance coverage and defense as well as non-insurance advisory matters. She is also on her third term as Chapter Chair of the Long Beach Ninety-Nines, an International Organization of Women Pilots. "After I got my pilot's license and got involved in the Ninety-Nines, I realized that I really enjoyed helping young women pursue their pilot or aviation-related careers," Perdigao explains in an interview with Tressler. "I love to help young women, whether it's simply taking them flying with me or finding other women who can help them pursue scholarships opportunities or to be their mentors."
From the beginning of her legal journey, Perdigao was focused on exactly what she wanted to do with the law, and used the foundation of her legal education to pursue a career apt to her interests. Grounded by COVID-19 and casework, Perdigao took some time to speak with us from her home in Hermosa Beach about her experiences in the legal profession as well as where to find the best chocolate chip cookies in California.
Can you describe your role and responsibilities as Partner and Co-Chair of Tressler's Transportation Practice Group?
Tressler LLP is a national law firm with eight offices located in five states. Our Transportation Practice Group spans the country, and our attorneys primarily focus on aviation, maritime and trucking law. I am honored to have this leadership role, and it's exciting to see how quickly our practice is expanding. My Co-Chair, Don Machalinski, and I support the cohesiveness of the group and coordinate marketing and client outreach efforts. During the current COVID-19 situation, we host virtual happy hours to provide a social outlet for the team and to ensure that everyone is doing well. I enjoy serving my clients while supporting the goals of our group.
What initially steered you into the legal field? Did you always know you'd be involved with aviation law?
My grandfather was a WWII pilot and then he became an aviation insurance underwriter. I grew up in the aviation world and always loved the adventure and possibilities of aviation. Since my grandfather was an underwriter, typical dinner conversation involved extensive examination of aircraft investigations, which I found fascinating; therefore, aviation law was a natural fit for me.
How did a Pepperdine legal education influence your professional trajectory?
Pepperdine's professors were truly engaged and focused on their students. I believe that this helped me to continue to stay engaged and focused on the law.
Is there someone who played a mentor role for you while in law school?
While I was in law school, I had the opportunity to work at an aviation law firm. I worked for Doug Pahl, who was a partner with the firm. He was and continues to be a great mentor, and we now work together again at Tressler LLP. It has been great to learn from him over the last 20 years, and it is always nice to have a sounding board when you run into particularly unique issues.
When did you start working on your pilot's license? We read that you enjoy helping other young women pursue aviation-related careers. What types of careers are they pursuing, and how do you connect with these young professionals?
I started working on my pilot's license in 2013. At that time, I joined the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots. Early on, I was inspired by the young women that were focused on working towards airline careers or they were pursuing other careers in aviation while working on their private pilot license. Over the last four years, I have been chapter chair of the Long Beach Chapter of the Ninety-Nines and it has been my goal to match people with the right mentors. Depending on what their career goals are, I can either help them or find the right match.
What do you hope to see for the next fifty years of Pepperdine Caruso Law school?
To continue to strive for diversity and to lead in the development of new areas of law.
Just for fun - where's your favorite place to fly?
Catalina–they have the best chocolate chip cookies!