Category Archives: Relationships

Interclub Council Meeting Today

As the year comes toward a close, leadership of student-led organizations changes hands.  Today, at lunch, there will be an Interclub Council meeting of all outgoing and incoming leaders.

We have such a rich offering of student leadership organizations (and opportunities).  Consider this impressive list:

Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL)
American Bar Association (Law Student Division)
American Constitution Society
Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
Armenian Law Students
Alexander Hamilton Society
Black Law Student Association
Christian Legal Society
Criminal Law Society
Dispute Resolution Law Journal
Dispute Resolution Society
DRPC Networking Society
Environmental Law Society
Federalist Society
Honor Board
Interfaith Student Council
International Justice Mission
International Law Society
J. Reuben Clark Society
Jewish Law Student’s Association
Journal of Business, Entrepreneurship & the Law
Law Students – Catalyst for Youth
LGBT Legal Society
Moot Court Board
National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary
Pepperdine Law Review
Phi Alpha Delta
Phi Delta Phi
Sports and Entertainment Law Society
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
Student Bar Association
Student Mentor Program
Veterans Legal Society
Video Game Law Society
Women’s Legal Association


Academic Advising Week: Career Practice Area Networking Fair

Today offers a big conclusion to Academic Advising Week when thirty-six practicing attorneys (and alums) from a wide variety of practice areas come to campus to meet with our students.  Students will have the opportunity to ask attorneys practicing in fields they find interesting questions about how to break into that specific field, which courses and programs they should focus on in law school, and anything else they are wondering!

We appreciate our alumni so very much and the commitment of those coming to campus today to share their time, knowledge, and expertise with our students.

I also appreciate our Career Development Office and our Office of Alumni Relations who worked so hard together to make this event possible today.

AALS Student Services Section


I have the honor of serving on the executive committee of the student services section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS), and I am humbled and inspired by the good work of my colleagues across the nation.  Fellow committee members pictured above at our recent national meeting in Washington, D.C., lead student services at Yale, Mississippi, UCLA, Michigan, Indiana (Indianapolis), and Thomas Jefferson (San Diego).  I am the tall, bald guy.  🙂

Thanksgiving Day!!!

I am simply thankful to be a part of the Pepperdine University School of Law family!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Thanksgiving Monday

I am thankful to be a part of a rigorous academic endeavor where brilliant professors and talented students also find a way to inject joy into the experience.

Case in point, Professor Helfand and 1L Aaron as seen HERE.

A Graduation Picture (Value: 1,000 Words)

With John Adams (Diploma)

I love this picture from, and of, John Adams.  Due to John’s last name, he was the first graduate to receive his Juris Doctor degree last Friday.  However, John was a leader in the Class of 2014 in ways far beyond leading the alphabetical order.

Why I love the picture is that it captures the smiles of Dean Tacha (presenting the diploma), Professor Ogden (who served as Marshal), and myself (who served as Lector). The Pepperdine University School of Law is a top-notch law school, but it is simultaneously a place where the faculty, staff, and administration love students.  This picture is definitely worth at least a thousand words.

We are so proud of all our new graduates!

Al Sturgeon
Dean of Students


Yesterday was another one of those days when I arrived at work at 7:30am and made it back home at 8:30pm.  But in between, I was struck by a few snapshots of this incredible place…

#1: At lunch, I walk by a classroom to see Amy, one of our 2Ls, teaching the Charleston to some of her fellow students in anticipation of the Barrister’s Ball on October 19 with the theme “The Great Gatsby.”  Amy likes to dance and thought it would be fun to teach her classmates, so she did!

#2: Late afternoon, I slipped into Bob Goff’s “Faith, Leadership, and the Law” class.  Bob is a New York Times bestselling-author, a lawyer, and one of our adjunct professors, and he brought his friends Scott & Traci Hamilton to class.  Scott Hamilton is one of the most famous figure skaters of all time, and I was mesmerized as Scott shared with the students his amazing story and his faith.

#3: Last evening, I was honored to attend an orientation for upper-division students in our Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law.  The event was held at Duke’s of Malibu in a room with simply spectacular views — the Pacific Ocean literally lapping up to the windows of our meeting.

On one hand, this combination of scenes reflects an extraordinary day.  On the other hand — and truth be told — it was just another Wednesday.  🙂


Al Sturgeon

Assistant Dean for Student Life


Pepperdine Law Family


We take the “family” part of the Pepperdine Law family pretty seriously around here — so much so, that sometimes we create families of our own!  🙂

Last evening, I had the honor of officiating the wedding ceremony for Megan (Class of 2013) and Sean (Class of 2012).  Megan and Sean met at law school.  In fact, Megan was once a 1L interested in our Global Justice Program, and Sean was a 2L who served on a student panel to speak of his summer experience in Uganda through the GJP — that was how they met!

It was extra fun to see many of our graduates at the ceremony last evening.  It was simply another reminder of the wonderful people that I have the pleasure of working with every day.

With Megan & Sean


Al Sturgeon

Assistant Dean for Student Life

Things to Never Say to a Law Student

Professor Andrew McClurg has written an excellent book for the family and friends of law students and granted me permission to share excerpts with you from time to time.  If you are interested, I would recommend purchasing this book.  Chapter Nine is one of my favorites, and it is titled, “Eight Things to NEVER Say to a Law Student.”  Excellent, excellent advice in that chapter!  (By the way, if you have already said most of them, don’t worry – it happens every year.  Better to get them out of the way earlier rather than later!)  Today, I share these statements with my own super brief synopsis (Professor McClurg’s in-depth descriptions are much better, of course).


1. “Don’t Worry, You’ll Do Fine”

* This one is a killer!  Everyone in law school made great grades prior to law school, and due to the forced curve, many law students will not make great grades in law school.  If “fine” has been defined as great grades, many students will simply not “do fine.”  That’s okay, of course, but saying this to a law student simply adds more pressure, which is a bad thing.  If you feel the urge to say something along these lines, let me suggest a simple “I’m proud of you.”


2. “Maybe You Weren’t Meant to Be in Law School”

* This is the flip side of #1.  Don’t say this either!  When a student starts freaking out (notice I went with “when” and not “if” here!), don’t say #1 (more pressure!) or #2 (more freaking out!).  Just love them, say you are proud of them no matter what — and gently suggest, “Why don’t you go have a talk with Dean Sturgeon?”  🙂


3. “Remember, It’s Only a Test”

* It will be frustrating for you to censor this statement because it is true, but it doesn’t “feel” like it is only a test.  Therefore, saying that it is makes you seem like you do not understand and therefore are not able to be helpful.  Instead (again), simply offer your support.


4. “Is That the Best You Could Do?”

* You don’t have to ask this question because I will go ahead and answer it for you.  The answer is most probably yes.  So, be proud of your student!  Getting a B in law school is like getting an A in college.  Don’t worry about letters or ranks or any other ways of understanding your student’s previous academic achievements.  Let the student set the reaction to grades — if they are down, hug them and say you are proud of them (in your sad voice), and if they are excited, hug them and say you are proud of them (in your happy voice)!

And let me repeat — suggesting a little visit to Dean Sturgeon or Director Oliver is always a good option!


5. “Do You Really Have to Work on That Tonight?”

Probably the answer is Yes.  On the rare occasion when the opposite may be true, from the student’s perspective, the question contributes to a sense of guilt — i.e., not only am I struggling in law school, but now I’m failing my family/friends, too!  Instead, just keep up the support and look forward to winter break.  Oh, speaking of breaks, a word on Thanksgiving Break.  Having several days “off” so close to finals is a precarious situation.  In fact, taking several days “off” so close to finals is a bad thing for academic success.  Here is my advice to family and friends: Do not advise students either way on how to spend Thanksgiving Break.  Instead, support whatever decision they make.  If they choose to miss the family holiday, if they choose to come home but only take a day off, or if they choose to take several days off — simply lend support to their decision.  And remember that winter break will come very soon.  That is a real break!!!


6. “What Kind of Lawyer Do You Want to Be?”

The correct answer from students is: I don’t know.  Even if students think they know, their answer is most often wrong.  The problem with asking the question is twofold: (i) students grow weary from hearing the question over and over; and (ii) after a while, students begin to believe maybe they are supposed to know.


7. “Do You Have a Job Yet?”

This will mostly come later, but when it does, don’t ask it.  When they do land a job, you will know.  If they do not have a job secured yet, they could do without the added pressure.


8. “Have You Heard the One About the Lawyer, the Shark, and the Pornographer?”

Like most every profession, the legal profession consists of amazing people making a positive difference in the world, along with some dirty, rotten scoundrels.  The general public likes to emphasize the latter, and the jokes perpetuate that perception.  The jokes don’t bother everyone (including me), but they do some, and as a result, feeding your student a steady stream of the funniest lawyer jokes is generally a bad idea.


Al Sturgeon

Assistant Dean for Student Life

New Employment Mediation Clinic

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California’s civil rights agency, announced the creation of another educational partnership, this time with Pepperdine University School of Law‘s renowned Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. The partnership will launch a new employment mediation clinic at Pepperdine.

The new employment mediation clinic, which began in August, will allow Department senior attorney-mediators to serve as clinical faculty at the Straus Institute. Students enrolled in the program will prepare Department cases for mediation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. In addition, they will gain practical experience mediating and settling employment discrimination complaints under the Department’s supervision.

“Our students will experience dispute resolution skills and techniques in all stages of the Department’s administration: pre-investigation, post-investigation, pre-civil complaint and class/group as well as individual complaints,” said Pepperdine University School of Law Dean, Deanell Tacha. “This is an invaluable partnership for Pepperdine students and the community. We are proud to be a part of it.” To read more, please go to:


Al Sturgeon

Assistant Dean for Student Life