News & Features
Laure Sudreau-Rippe Endows Chair at Alma Mater
Dean Emeritus Ronald Phillips, Dean Deanell Tacha,
Professor Janet Kerr, benefactor Laure Sudreau-Rippe,
and Bill Rippe
Almost 10 years to the day after she left California for the East Coast, Laure Sudreau-Rippe (JD '97) returned to Pepperdine University's Malibu campus with her husband, Bill Rippe. Although partly motivated by a desire to take her husband on his first tour of her law school, Laure was actually visiting for a much greater purpose—to give a gift that has changed her life. Ultimately, it is a gift that will change the lives of professors, students, and the greater community forever. Laure made the generous decision to endow a chair at the School of Law with a $3 million commitment.
Even though it was, in her husband's words, a "spur of the moment" gift, Laure's story confirms that the decision to give was years in the making. Born and raised in France, Laure received the French equivalent of the juris doctor before moving to California. After working at an American law firm for a year as a foreign consultant, she decided to apply to law schools in the Los Angeles area. Even though she didn't have the best application on paper, Laure shares, "Pepperdine took me even without the normal background. They took a chance on me, and I'm very grateful."
Laure credits her time at the School of Law and her alternative dispute resolution experience at its Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution with much of her career success. Her first boss, upon hiring her, explained that he had considered more than 100 applicants from top-tier schools before choosing Laure. Although the law school was still working its way up to its current-day ranking, Laure learned then that "it isn't necessarily the law school you attend that determines your future career." It is so much more. Pepperdine's personal attention from professors, small classes, and emphasis on ethics made all the diἀerence, Laure says.
Laure knew that she would eventually want to give back to the School of Law, and she finally had the ability to do so after establishing a successful career in entertainment and intellectual property law. Senior Vice Chancellor and School of Law Dean Emeritus Ronald Phillips has kept in touch with Laure since her graduation, occasionally meeting her and her classmate, David Monk (JD '97), for lunch to talk about the school's growth. In May 2011, Dean Phillips presented Laure with the idea of making a gift, a gift that would herald Laure as the first alumna to endow a chair at Pepperdine. She jumped at the opportunity, especially because the chair would be designated for professors who have overcome significant obstacles in their careers.
When she learned that Professor Janet Kerr would be the first to occupy the chair, Laure had an even greater interest in giving the gift. Janet serves as executive director of the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law which trains interested Pepperdine law students to become entrepreneurs, or lawyers for entrepreneurs, and also facilitates microfinance projects, giving small loans to the underserved to fund new businesses. Microfinance is one of Laure's passions. Further, Janet has always inspired women to pursue law, even serving as a mentor to Laure during her time at Pepperdine.
School of Law Dean Deanell Tacha is also thrilled. "In particular, this chair will make possible very important enhancements to the work being done by the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law," she enthused. "It will enable students to be involved in the essential links that must be forged in training lawyers and business people to work together in their mutual eἀorts to strengthen the economic fiber of the nation and the world."
When asked what she would say to someone thinking about giving a gift to Pepperdine, Laure was enthusiastic and encouraging: "I would tell someone thinking about giving a gift, 'Just don't think about it. Just give—just give back.' I was able to give back to an institution that helped me, and the surprises keep coming."