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Virginia F. Milstead (JD '04) Honored as Distinguished Alumna at Pepperdine Caruso Law Class of 2020 Commencement

On Saturday, May 22, at the Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony, President Jim Gash (JD '93) presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Virginia Milstead (JD '04). Each year at graduation, the law school recognizes an alumnus who has distinguished themselves by living out the Pepperdine mission and providing either outstanding service to Pepperdine University or making an important contribution to their profession or community.

Milstead has done both. For Pepperdine Caruso Law, she has taught Constitutional Law, served as a preceptor, and served on its board of advisors. She also served as a panelist at the third annual William French Smith Memorial Lecture in 2010 featuring retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor. On three occasions, she has been a panelist at the Byrne Judicial Clerkship Institute. In 2020 Milstead was added to the Pepperdine University Board of Regents, the governing board of the University that helps shape policy and guide the direction of the University.

Milstead is a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Los Angeles, where she engages in a broad commercial litigation practice. She represents clients in both federal and state courts, with a particular emphasis on securities and merger litigation, director misconduct, civil RICO, and unfair business practices. In 2021 Milstead was named a Woman of Influence by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Before joining the firm, she served as a clerk to the Honorable Arthur Alarcón of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and as a clerk to the Honorable Florence-Marie Cooper of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Milstead earned her bachelor's degree at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She devoted two years to teaching English to residents of Estonia as a Peace Corps volunteer before attending law school. During her time at Pepperdine Caruso Law, she was literary and citation editor for the Pepperdine Law Review. Milstead was also the valedictorian of her class.

In her address to graduates following the award presentation, Milstead shared three pieces of advice with the graduating class that would be applicable to their lives and law practice. "First, hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard. Second, regardless of whether you're at fault, you're responsible. Third, if it feels good to write it, you probably shouldn't," she said. "So, in sum, work hard. Accept responsibility. Be nice." Milstead's remarks resonated with the class of 2020, many of whom have already taken and passed the bar exam, and began practicing law in the year since they earned their JDs.

A feature on the Pepperdine Caruso Law 2020 Commencement Ceremony may be viewed here.