The Pepperdine Law Review Celebrates 40 Years Since Conception
In a small storefront in Santa Ana, California, in the fall of 1970 emerged the newly established Pepperdine School of Law. Just as the school earned provisional accreditation from the State Bar of California, 34 full-time students walked through the doors, and a new era in Pepperdine history began.
Two years later, as the School of Law received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association, administrators had the idea to establish a law review unique to Pepperdine. A team of 39 student board members was selected by then Dean Ronald F. Phillips to create the first volume of the Pepperdine Law Review.
Published in 1973 in a blue hardcover copy bearing the name of Dean Phillips, the publication proved successful as it received positive feedback from legal professionals.
“We were a young law school with this quality piece of work under our belt,” Phillips said. “Those first board members paved the way for future publications.”
Now, 40 years since drafting the first volume, four alumni speak about their role as editors-in-chief of the Pepperdine Law Review.
Barbara McDonaldEditor-in-Chief, 1972-1973
As the first editor-in-chief of the Pepperdine Law Review, the pressure was on Barbara McDonald (JD ’73) to not only publish quality articles, but also to lay solid ground rules of dos and don’ts for future law review board members to use as a guideline.
“It was tough because we literally started from scratch,” McDonald said. “We had to solicit articles, and not just any articles, good articles. But no one knew who we were and we were up against other law schools that wanted the same articles we wanted. Only they had a reputation behind them. We really had to prove ourselves.”
McDonald came to Pepperdine at 30 as a mother of four. She had been selected by Phillips to serve as the editor-in-chief because she led the class with the highest grade point average. She says she wanted to create a niche for Pepperdine by publishing a successful law review.
“We were determined to achieve excellence that first publication,” she noted about the first group of board members. “We studied every element of other law reviews. Everything from the articles to the cover design, the paper quality, and even colors. Our in-depth surveys of law reviews we found most admirable led us to put together a publications manual for the use of future Law Review staff members.”
The hours put into working on the publication proved to be long. Editing was tedious. Technology was, quite simply, limited. But the final 464-page copy began a tradition that strengthened in the years that followed.
McDonald went on to a career as a public defender in both Orange County and San Diego County. She also served as a federal prosecutor in the criminal section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Additionally, she spent seven years in private practice, during which time she successfully handled the complex civil case, Valdez v. Toto. The case found her client, Alberto Valdez, 40, fighting to live independently after being wrongly labeled as “mentally retarded” and institutionalized since he was 7 years old.
Selina Hewitt FarrellEditor-in-Chief, 1991-1992
Selina Hewitt Farrell (JD ’92) was selected as editor-in-chief by the law review board in 1991 after having served on the staff the previous year.
“One thing that is unique about law school journals, as opposed to medical school journals, is the fact that the law school boards are made up entirely of students,” she said. “Here at Pepperdine, they are either in the top 10 percent of their class or they are chosen through a rigorous ‘write-on’ competition. Either way, they hold high standards.”
Farrell recalls the camaraderie among the staff and board. “Here we were, excited to publish a scholarly journal,” she said. “We knew it would help our careers. We understood the prestige that came with it. I made some of my best friendships through that experience.”
Among the greatest qualities of that staff, Farrell says, was their dedication. “I remember coming in at eight in the morning and Loye Barton (JD ’92), the managing editor, had been there since 6 a.m.,” she said. “It was that kind of commitment, to carry the weight of the publication schedule almost single-handedly, that raised the caliber of the review.”
Farrell went on to work as a tax attorney in the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins, an international corporate law firm. She then became a professor of law at Whittier Law School before returning to the Pepperdine School of Law as a professor and assistant dean for career development, where she continues her commitment to excellence.
Derek BrownEditor-in-Chief, 1999-2000
Now campaigning for a second term in the Utah House of Representatives, Derek Brown (JD ’00) reflects on his professional influences. Among them are the two years he spent working on the Pepperdine Law Review.
“Deciding to take on the role of editor-in-chief turned what would have otherwise been a relaxing year into a really, really busy one,” he said. “But the experience, especially the managerial role, is something that helped me in a lot of ways.”
Brown strayed from his initial career choices in English literature and music to pursue a career in law. The Salt Lake City native became active in trial competitions and student conferences held throughout the country and internationally. Brown went to past editors-in-chief of the review for advice before agreeing to lead the next volume of the publication.
“The offices that year had been temporarily moved to a small office in the George Page complex,” he said. “I became immediately engaged in producing a great end product.”
That experience, he says, has stayed with him throughout his career as a lawyer, which lasted more than five years before his direction changed to politics.
Nicole RodgerEditor-in-Chief, 2011-2012
As the most recent editor in chief, Nicole Rodger (’02, JD ’12), holds the traditions of the Pepperdine Law Review in high regard.
“You feel like you’ve been entrusted with something that is much bigger than yourself,” she said. “It is something that is so important. I have felt like I want to live up to that challenge. I want to build on what other editors-in-chief have done.”
Among the projects under Rodger’s leadership included implementing a website dedicated to the Pepperdine Law Review that will be going live in the coming months, as well as a digital library of all published volumes. In addition, Rodger and her team of 80 staff and board members organized a reception, with invitations extended to all who have been involved in the review throughout the past 40 years. She hopes the event becomes a new tradition.
Rodger will launch her legal career in the corporate department of the Los Angeles office of White & Case LLP, a firm based in New York City.
“There is a lot I will take with me from my experience as editor-in-chief,” she said. “Mostly, it’s how inspired I am by the staff and board. We are a volunteer army. No one gets paid, yet they give so much of themselves. It’s definitely left a lasting impression.”