Pepperdine University School of Law
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, California 90263
TippingTheScales (2013): NR
U.S. News (2013): 61
AboveTheLaw (2013): NR
PEPPERDINE LAW STUDENTS SAY…
Academics & Programs: When your law school can boast “amazing professors,” “a challenging academic environment,” and a prime location in Malibu, California, there should be little surprise when students report, “Pepperdine Law is truly unlike any other school.” “Pepperdine Law’s support structure and genuine care for [its] students is unparalleled,” says a 2L. “From the administrators to the professors to the employees in the bookstore and cafeteria, Pepperdine creates a very welcoming, family-like environment.”
For many here, the professors are “the greatest thing” about the school. “In addition to being incredibly knowledgeable, the professors are engaging and keep class interesting,” says a 1L. “They make themselves available outside of class for opportunities to get to know them on a social level.” A 3L agrees: “Like other schools, class is nerve-wracking, competitive, and difficult, but the professors have a respect for students unlike anything I have seen. They truly want us to learn and to succeed and they have an open-door policy to talk to us about class or even just life, anytime.” The administration gets similarly high marks for “making an effort to not only reach out to students,” but also for “get[ting] to know students on a personal level.”
That said, some students wouldn’t mind seeing the administration “relax a little more” as it can be “a little intense” with “its announcements” and “required meetings.” Being a Christian school, there is the constant debate of whether Pepperdine is too “religious” or “conservative.” By and large, students report that “both sides of the political spectrum are represented in class discussions.” However, some have found that in the wake of “Prop 8,” things got “uncomfortable” for “liberal” students. Despite this, “things are changing and a number of students are trying to facilitate this change.”
“It is true that Pepperdine students work very hard,” says a 2L. Despite “the competition [being] stiff for grades,” students are “very civil and refined.” However, expect a challenge as the school “employs a harder curved ranking system than other comparable law schools.” “I used to surf almost everyday during my first semester,” explains a 1L. “I hardly ever surf any more because I work so hard to keep up with the work ethic of my peers—a great motivator.” Students appreciate “the great student mentor program” which assigns “a couple of upperclassmen to the 1Ls” in order to help them “with outlining and law school growing pains.” Nearly all students like the “focus on legal research and writing,” yet some would also like to see the school “reform [its] first-year curriculum to include a few practical courses that teach lawyering skills outside of the traditional doctrinal classes.”
Pepperdine Law’s Career Development Office gets something of a backhanded compliment from most students. According to some, they’re “particularly nosy” in that they “hold students’ hands through every step of law school and the job finding [process],” which can put off “highly independent” people. According to others, they’re “extremely helpful” and “very proactive.” Though some students have had trouble securing “big firm” jobs after “the economy burst and crumbled,” most are heartened by the name and alumni connections a Pepperdine diploma comes with. “I am not applying for a job in the Los Angeles area, and I found that Pepperdine has strong ties to [its] alumni,” explains a 3L.
Campus Life/Facilities: When you think Pepperdine, think Malibu. “There is not a more beautiful campus in the world,” says a 2L. “We sit atop a hill, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.” Nevertheless, most students agree that “the facilities could use an upgrade” (“technology” is “very clunky” or “up-to-date” depending on which side of the Mac/PC spectrum you fall) and that “The law school building itself needs to be updated from its 1970s motif.” But take heart; “There are plans for remodeling in the next few years.”
There’s no denying that Pepperdine has an 800-pound “conservative” gorilla in the room. However, according to students, the gorilla’s more hearsay than fact. “I consider myself to be liberal and was initially concerned about attending a school with a conservative reputation,” says a 1L. “Now that I am at Pepperdine, I realize that politics do not find their way into the classroom. Furthermore, there is actually a pretty even distribution among liberal and conservative professors despite the fact that the conservative ones seem to get all the media attention. This would also apply to the students.” “By and large, the people at Pepperdine are leaps and bounds more decent than at almost any other law school in the country,” explains a 2L. “You can always rely on your fellow students to help you out if you’re in a jam.” Pepperdine does have “a relatively low amount of ethnic diversity in its student body.” However, the school is “very accepting of diverse national and ethnic origins.”
There’s a “very strong sense of community at Pepperdine” thanks to “many social activities that SBA throws every year for the students, such as the annual Dodgeball Tournament on campus,” the “law school prom,” and a “poker tournament.” For many here, social life revolves around the beach or the bar. “I go to the beach after class and finals—beat that,” taunts a 1L. “Social life is like high school again, except alcohol is legally obtained,” adds a 1L. “There is less drama though.” For something slightly more cerebral, the school is “really good about hosting people to talk at school about current issues.” “In the past year, I’ve seen Supreme Court Justices Scalia, O’Connor, and Thomas speak at my school,” says a 3L.
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.