2023 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient Mark Cramer Delivers Special Tribute to Caruso Law Professors
On Friday, May 19, Pepperdine Caruso Law alumnus Mark T. Cramer (JD ’98) was honored at the annual commencement ceremony with the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Cramer is a shareholder at Buchalter, PC, where he is chair of the firm’s class-action practice group in Los Angeles. He formerly served as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Cramer is a member of the Caruso Law Board of Advisors and has taught as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer.
At the ceremony, Cramer was presented his award by dean Paul Caron. Cramer related that when he came to Pepperdine he felt part of a special community. He thanked University president and his former law professor Jim Gash for helping him launch his career, saying, “Thanks to Jim, I got my first job as a lawyer. Jim interviewed me in a room in the law library in 1997, when he was working at Kirkland & Ellis. Jim helped launch my career and I am forever grateful to him for that.”
Cramer credited the example of former law professor Duane Faw as inspiring him to establish Caruso Law’s “Pay It Forward” Scholarship. Professor Faw was a retired Marine Corps general who served in Vietnam, and later sponsored Vietnamese refugees in the United States. Two of the refugees Professor Faw helped were the parents of Cramer’s future wife by providing a personal guarantee so they could buy a home. Cramer explained, “General Faw lived Pepperdine’s motto: ‘Freely ye received, freely give.’ General Faw freely gave to a family of Buddhists from Vietnam and changed the arc of their lives. He paid it forward.”
Cramer encouraged the new graduates to also pay it forward, saying, “Graduates, you are now an official part of the Pepperdine community. Pepperdine will forever be part of who you are and you will forever be part of Pepperdine. That is a great privilege—and it comes with great responsibility. In the spirit of George Pepperdine, Dean Phillips, President Gash, General Faw, and so many others who are part of Pepperdine’s legacy, I encourage you to look for ways to pay it forward in your own way—and make waves.”
Cramer's complete speech may be found at Distinguished Alumnus Speech 2023. The video of the ceremony may be found at Caruso Law Commencement 2023 (Cramer at 17:53).
Several of the Caruso Law graduates in the class of 2023 are beneficiaries of the “Pay it Forward” Scholarship established by Cramer. To learn more, please contact vice chancellor of development Rebecca Malzahn Mellos at firstname.lastname@example.org.