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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

MLS Graduate Nicole Susoeff Shares Experience of Online Program

January 14, 2019 | On Friday, January 11, Pepperdine Law celebrated its first cohort of graduates from the Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program with an elegant luncheon event. The online program, which launched launched in 2017, is designed to enable nonlawyers to develop superior legal expertise and credentials to advance within their chosen field. Nicole Susoeff, a case administrator in the Commercial Division of the American Arbitration Association, is a part of this inaugural group of graduates, a group Professor Jeff Baker described as "true pioneers."

Nicole, who specializes primarily in healthcare disputes, enrolled in Pepperdine Law Online in order to move up in her company with ambitions to become a director of ADR services. We recently spoke with Nicole about her overall experience in this groundbreaking legal program:

What drew you to pursue a Master of Legal Studies from Pepperdine Law?

I chose Pepperdine Law because it's a prestigious school and the leader in alternative dispute resolution.

How will the Master of Legal Studies help you advance in your field?

This degree has allowed me to work on the AAA/ICDR Foundation, which funds legal charities representing the underrepresented.

How has the online component of the program impacted your personal and professional life?

I like the flexibility of the program. It allowed me to keep my job, and I didn't have to move anywhere. Also I was able to complete my schoolwork at my own pace and attend class from anywhere around the globe.

What skills have you gained that will be directly applicable in your profession?

The skills I have gained from this program are immeasurable. It gave me the confidence I needed to converse with lawyers, retired judges, and mediators. I am now able to hold a conversation with this demographic. Also it has given me a deeper understanding of the various legal issues that my clients face while going through arbitration proceedings.

Can you describe your experience with Pepperdine Law in a single word?

A single word is so hard to choose, but if I had to pick one it would be humbling. You have to be willing to be corrected in order for to see yourself grow. The law isn't something where you can be fast and mishandle it. It requires you to look at all angles and deliberately make a decision.

At Friday's celebration ceremony, Nicole was one of eight students in attendance to be honored by Pepperdine Law faculty and administrators for their accomplishments. The full class will be formally recognized at Commencement in May. Director of Pepperdine Law Strategic Initiatives Christie Lopez said, "This cohort of graduates, our first in the MLS program, is an energetic and trail-blazing group that has led the way for what is now an online program with more than 260 students. We are delighted to see the extent to which these students have engaged with Pepperdine Law faculty and formed such strong bonds as a class. We know the friendships this cohort has developed with each other, their faculty members, and the staff of Pepperdine's online programs will continue long after graduation."