News and Events
Elliot Anderson, 2006 School of Law Valedictorian, Grateful for Pepperdine Experience
Elliot Anderson had a real dilemma. The Pepperdine School of Law student promised to take his wife to Disneyland for her birthday, but his Wills and Trusts mid-term fell on the same day. What's a husband to do? Elliot approached his professor, Kristine Knaplund, and pleaded his case. She did not hesitate: Elliot should take his wife to Disneyland and reschedule his mid-term.
Such care and personal attention defined Elliot Anderson's experience at Pepperdine. As the 2006 School of Law Valedictorian, Elliot earned the highest cumulative grade point average, not only in his graduating class, but in the history of the Pepperdine School of Law. But it is gratitude he feels for this honor, not pride.
"I came to Pepperdine because then-Dean Lynn said to us, 'If you want to be a decent person and good lawyer, come here.' No other schools said that," Elliot recalls. "I wanted to learn how to be a lawyer in a community, how to go through law school and still like who I am. Pepperdine has made good on Dean Lynn's promise. I am grateful to God for how this has turned out, and that I've been able to return on what God has given me."
A native of small town Lindale, Texas, Elliot graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a double major in English and History. Interested in reading and writing, and with tentative plans for a career teaching high school, he spent two years teaching English in China. Upon returning to the States, Elliot took a job with an Oklahoma mortgage company and began dating Erin, a physical therapist and his future wife.
Elliot planned to pursue a business degree until a friend observed that his talents were more closely suited to the law. "I can use what God has gifted me for and provide for my family," he says of his choice to become an attorney. With abundant meaningful memories of his years at Pepperdine, the decision seems wise indeed.
During his first semester, faculty mentor Anthony "Skippy" McDermott told students that if they ever needed anything, even something not related to school, they should ask him. When Elliot’s mother phoned him for help with making his grandparents' living will, he turned to McDermott. "He helped me get everything done. He said 'anything at all,' and he really meant it. I can't tell you how blessed we've been to be here."
Elliot's matriculation at the School of Law also presented two incredible opportunities: to serve as Editor-in-chief of Pepperdine's Law Review, and participate in Moot Court competitions. In the latter especially, Elliot demonstrated remarkable skill. He and partner Joshua Hill won first place in the Spring 2005 Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C., and second place in Pepperdine's Dalsimer Competition. Elliot also won the Armand Arabian Tournament on campus last fall. He reflects: "It is the Pepperdine experience and accomplishment for which I am most grateful to God."
Following graduation, Elliot and Erin will return to Oklahoma, where Elliot has accepted a position in general practice litigation with Crowe & Dunlevy, the state’s biggest law firm. Although he was offered a place at a large firm in Washington, D.C., "we decided to start where we wanted to end up," Elliot says. "This choice gives us what the D.C. firm couldn't: Erin's family nearby, a sense of community, the welcome and embrace of us as a unit."
On the heels of his May 19 graduation, Elliot faces one more obstacle before beginning his promising legal career: the harrowing Bar Exam. But while his classmates may feel the stress of this hurdle quite acutely, Elliot calmly notes, "It's all in God's hands."
By Megan Huard