Shutting down my internet startup did not extinguish my interest in entrepreneurship and innovation.
When I was accepted to several law schools, it was tempting to choose based on the legal community's dogma. For example, my LSAT tutor recommended picking the best-ranked school, evaluating prestige factors, and scrutinizing Law School Transparency.
This probably makes sense for many students, but I wanted to find a way to incorporate hard-won experiences, insights, and skills from my professional life into my studies.
I ultimately decided to trust my intuition and to test each school for innovative DNA. I ultimately chose to go to Pepperdine based on three factors: 1) innovation track record 2) trusting my 'boots on the ground' impression, and 3) practical orientation.
Even if we don't share the exact same background, try comparing your approach to mine. For several years my entire focus was thinking about the future - where are technology, the economy, and society headed? Perhaps peering through my lens for a moment will help you evaluate how well the community you're joining will prepare you to participate in a dynamic professional environment where opportunities (and honestly, threats) are everywhere.
Innovative Track Record, Entrepreneurial Alumni:
- Most institutions' founders set their cultures. George Pepperdine founded Pepperdine, and he himself was an entrepreneur.
- Many (most?) schools are bureaucratic and afraid to take risk. But as one example of smart risk-taking, Pepperdine acted with foresight by moving Campus from West LA to Malibu.
- There are quite a few School of Law Alumni who've succeeded in entrepreneurship and innovation: 1) Chipotle founder Monty Moran, 2) Geoff Palmer, prolific Downtown LA developer 3) DocStoc founder and West LA superconnector Jason Nazar 4) Rick Caruso, developer several outdoor malls such as The Grove. Please comment if I omitted anyone!
Boots on the Ground impression:
- At an admitted students' reception, I met Prof. Anderson, who immediately struck me as knowledgable about computers and empirical legal studies. I left that reception with the impression that studying the law would lead to interesting opportunities, even if I could only see them through a glass darkly, and even if I remained a bit skeptical of what seems like a time-worn way of learning.
- I visited a great school, UC Irvine. I came away from all my visits there in awe of their prestige and their deep professorial bench. The school whispered 'legal reasoning', which is good, but unfortunately I learned very little about risks their graduates took and ventures they'd started. Pepperdine of course demonstrated a great track record there.
- I met upperclassmen at Pepperdine who'd worked at tech companies like RealtyMogl (an equity crowdfunding platform) and PeerStreet (crowdfunding platform founded by Michael Burry who was featured in The Big Short)
- One of the top Blawgs, TaxProf, is edited by a Pepperdine prof (ed: Professor Caron, creator of TaxProf, is now Pepperdine's Dean. Smart choice!).
- My mentor, a successful video game entrepreneur, told me he thought Pepperdine might be a great place to meet people who tend to skew extroverted and are interested in business and entrepreneurship. This ended up being accurate.
- Here is an aerial tour of the School of Law, which is situated atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Nature inspires creativity.
Aside from directing your attention to Appellate and Supreme Court decisions and scrutinizing their holdings and legal reasoning, how else does your school offer to prepare you for a successful career?
- Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship - a concentration in the law school which features an entrepreneurship practicum.
- Straus Dispute Resolution - #1 Rated, Internationally Acclaimed. I heard anecdotally (from a Russian whose hometown is Moscow) that Pepperdine is known internationally as the best program for this course of study.
- Greater Campus- includes MBA, Public Policy, and Education/Psychology programs, and interestingly, a divinity school. This mix probably enables cross-pollination of ideas and inspires creativity.
- Even within our coursework, our professors often highlight practical information. We learned about discovery, which constitutes the bulk of a Civil Litigation, in first semester Civil Procedure. I hear this is unusual. Our professor worked at a litigation boutique and I'm confident her insights will serve us well in practice.