Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Faith and the Law: A Conversation with Professor Michael Helfand

I am hosting a brown-bag lunch conversation with Professor Michael Helfand on the roles of faith, religion, and spiritual life in the law and the practice of law during the lunch hour today.  I will interview Professor Helfand on his personal experience in law practice, which will be followed by an opportunity for the students to ask questions.  This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to hear from a popular professor on such an important topic!

Wisdom, Law, and Lawyers


The Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics will host its annual conference today and tomorrow at the School of Law.  This year’s conference is themed Wisdom, Law, and Lawyers.  Check out the impressive lineup of speakers who will engage this fascinating topic HERE.

Interfaith Student Council

Last night, my wife and I had the pleasure of hosting the Interfaith Student Council in our home once again.  It is always a highlight for us.

Counting the two of us, we had nineteen people there, which was a record attendance!  We had representatives of Atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the group, and we had a rich conversation on the topic, “What I always wanted to know about (e.g., Atheism, Buddhism, etc.) was ____________.”

I am always struck not only by the rich conversation among this group but also the respectful listening and questioning that occurs.  What an honor to be engaged in such an important conversation with such impressive students.

Thanksgiving Tuesday


I am thankful to be a part of a rigorous academic endeavor where brilliant professors and talented students feel free to include faith in conversations about the law.  I’m not exactly sure how many law schools have a dean who speaks at a law student Bible study and prays for the students (pictured above last week).  But I know of at least one.

Spiritual Formation Goals

Pepperdine Law Students at CLS National Conference (2)

The Pepperdine Law contingent at the Christian Legal Society national conference in Boston

The Pepperdine University School of Law is a Christian law school, and it is common for those outside of the community to wonder exactly what the “Christian” designation means.  It is obvious that the Christian description means something and that Pepperdine is not a secular institution that simply has Christian roots.  However, with no required statement of faith and a community that welcomes people from all faith backgrounds (and no faith background), it does not resemble what might be described as a Bible college either.

This year, a committee of faculty, staff, and students at the law school developed a set of spiritual formation goals for students.  Although the goals are new in terms of a written document, those familiar with the Pepperdine family will recognize that they simply articulate what it has long meant to describe the Pepperdine University School of Law as a Christian law school.

Here are the goals:

As a law school that is deeply committed to its Christian mission and welcoming people of all faiths, it is our goal that all students at the Pepperdine School of Law will…

1) Be loved in an environment where they can thrive and flourish;
2) Embrace and practice disciplines such as generosity, hospitality, relationships, rest, and service;
3) Contemplate and engage the roles of faith, religion, and spiritual life in the law and the practice of law;
4) See models of what it means to attempt to live out the Christian faith; and
5) Feel safe engaging in conversations about faith, and if so engaged, participate in dialogue that accurately represents the Christian faith, other faith traditions, or their understanding of faith.



Please join me in praying for Seattle Pacific University in the wake of yesterday’s tragedy.  I am thankful for the heroism of the young student security guard along with all the campus security officers who are willing to encounter great danger to provide a safe learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff.

Al Sturgeon
Dean of Students

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

Sunday Class

With Church Class

It has been an honor for my wife and I to host a Sunday morning Bible class in our home this academic year.  This is the second year that Professor Jim Gash and I have taught a Sunday morning class for graduate students, but this is the first year we gave hosting it in our home a shot.  Each Sunday morning, we shared breakfast together, followed by a discussion on a particular text.

Quite a few law students took part in the class over the course of the year.  We were sad this past Sunday to recognize that several of our graduates would be moving on and no longer be a part of the class, but it has been such a privilege to spend time with them while they were here.  We will miss Amanda, Hillary, Megan, Shelby, Ashleigh & Ryan, and Rachel & Steve!

We took a class picture (above) this past Saturday for memory’s sake.  The picture provided a bit of humor since our impromptu pose made it look like my wife and I have ten grown-up kids and a new baby.  (For the record, we don’t!)  🙂

Al Sturgeon
Dean of Students

Gary Haugen at Pepperdine Law

Gary Haugen is the President and CEO of International Justice Mission (“IJM”).  This week, Mr. Haugen is at Pepperdine Law co-teaching a one-week intensive course with Professor Jim Gash titled, “International Criminal Law, Human Rights, and the Development of the Rule of Law.”  Pepperdine Law is one of two places Mr. Haugen teaches at during the year (the other is his alma mater, The University of Chicago).

Much of the class focus is described in the description of Mr. Haugen’s recently-released book, “The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence.”

This morning, Mr. Haugen graciously agreed to a fascinating breakfast Q & A session with all interested members of the Pepperdine community.

Al Sturgeon
Dean of Students

Interfaith Student Council

Interfaith Student Council

It is that time of year when student organizations host their last meetings and make plans for next year.  Last evening, my family had the pleasure of hosting the final meeting of the year for our Interfaith Student Council (pictured above).  My family has had the pleasure of hosting several “dessert & discussion” meetings for this great organization in our home over the course of this year.  We have learned so much, while enjoying the opportunity to get to know a fine group of students.

Our group has included students from the following faith backgrounds: Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Eastern Orthodox, Atheism, Evangelical Christianity, Latter-Day Saints, Islam, and Mainline Protestantism.

The purpose of the Interfaith Student Council is two-fold:  (1) to foster an environment where law school students of different faiths can interact with each other and learn to understand each other on a spiritual or religious level; and (2) to be the conduit through which students can effectively communicate any faith-based concerns with the administration.

I was excited to hear the students plan for next year, and I anticipate the continued growth of the ISC!

Al Sturgeon
Assistant Dean for Student Life