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James Azadian (JD '01) Featured in The American Lawyer Trailblazers

Pepperdine Caruso Law alumnus and Board of Advisors member James S. Azadian (JD '01) is featured in The American Lawyer Trailblazers 2021 West publication. Azadian is a member and the West Coast chair of appellate practice at Dykema Gossett PLLC, located in Los Angeles.

Via The American Lawyer Trailblazers:

What was the genesis of the path that has made you a trailblazer?

Right out of law school, I served as a law clerk for a federal trial judge in Washington, D.C. He would invite students from a nearby school for the deaf and indigent elementary school students to watch courtroom proceedings and teach them about the justice system.  I assisted with those efforts and also helped to tutor struggling elementary school and secondary school students in their school work. It gave me the idea to create a program to expose at-risk youth to the courts in a meaningful way. My program educates at-risk youth on real cases pending before the Ninth Circuit and gives them a front-row seat at the appellate hearings conducted in those cases. They then speak with the attorneys who argued the cases and ask them questions. Following that Q&A period, they then meet in a private setting with the appellate judges, who inspire the students to do well in school and make plans for a brighter future. 

What sort of change has resulted from the concept?

I've been running the program for over 10 years, working with over 400 students, many of which had negative views of our justice system and the judiciary in particular. The program opened their eyes to the important role our courts play in our society and gave them a positive experience in court. The program has made a positive impact in their lives and career trajectories, as many have kept in touch and told me that the program provided the inspiration they were lacking to stick with school, graduate from high school, attend college, and select valuable career paths.

What bearing will this have on the future?

I believe that education is the true power. And when a young person or young adult receives a good civic, they are more likely to make good choices that contribute to their own wellbeing and the overall wellbeing of society. The most important thing we can do as professionals is to invest in the next generation.