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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Speaks at 41st Annual School of Law Dinner

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On March 12, more than 700 guests attended Pepperdine's 41st annual School of Law Dinner. The event, which took place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California, featured distinguished speaker Samuel A. Alito, Jr., associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Alito is the second Supreme Court justice to speak at the annual dinner in six years, following chief justice John Roberts in 2008.

Alito's remarks came in the form of an interview conducted by Pepperdine Law alumnus and Board of Visitor member Mark O. Hiepler ('88). Topics ranged from a personal look at the Supreme Court confirmation process to surprising facts about life as a justice. The event capped a full Pepperdine weekend for Alito, who also judged the final round of the Vincent S. Dalsimer Moot Court Competition, one of the School of Law's annual intra-school moot court competitions.

During the dinner, School of Law dean Deanell Reece Tacha announced a gift of one million dollars, plus an additional million in matching funds, from Carrol and R. Rex Parris. The gift from Carrol Parris, a Seaver College Board of Visitors member, and R. Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, California, and partner of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm, will go toward a new Center for Professional Formation that will provide additional facilities and support for Pepperdine's collection of "practice-ready" initiatives.

In their remarks, both Tacha and Pepperdine president Benton highlighted the fundamental role of skilled, well-grounded lawyers in the American legal system and way of life. Tacha noted that despite the current legal education climate, Pepperdine remains particularly strong, one of only 25 law schools in the country which increased in applications at a time when nearly 200 experienced significant drops.

In the honors portion of the event, the Robert H. Jackson Award was presented to Alito. Senior judge Stephanie K. Seymour of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals were recognized with the Vincent S. Dalsimer Dean's Award. Professor Kristine Knaplund and professor Michael A. Helfand were named 1L Professors of the Year, professor Steven M. Schultz as 2L/3L Professor of the Year, and Otto Cipola ('83) as Preceptor of the Year. The School of Law also presented the inaugural Dean's Award for Excellence in Scholarship to professor Donald "Trey" Childress and Helfand.