Tag Archives | law

Why Do Lawyers Use the Title: “Attorney AT LAW”?

It’s often easy to miss the simple irregularities of our professions.  Global Justice student worker Bethany asked me one this morning: Why do lawyers use the expression “attorney at law“?

2010 Bar Admission at Pepperdine

“Why don’t lawyers just say: ‘attorney’?” she continued.  “Are there other kinds of lawyers?”

Hmm… good point. I didn’t know where the expression came from. As a matter of fact, I’d never thought about it. Continue Reading →


The Best Thing I Learned in Law School: How to Be Miserable

It’s finals time again.  The law school is a bit tense, students are in the library in sweats and the men are unshaven.  I get a little shiver when I think about it.  It’s miserable and I’m glad I don’t have to go through it again.

We’re miserable, then in a few months were miserable again, repeat a few more times, and then it’s the bar exam.  A whole summer of misery.

Law books

Is there a silver lining to all this?  Maybe.  For the most part, I can’t recall what I had to cram into my head during those exam periods.  A fee simple determinable… that’s the good one, right?  Or is that a bad one?  Nonetheless, law school taught me one invaluable lesson that I regularly apply: How to be miserable.  Continue Reading →


What is Global Justice?

As many may know, I direct the Global Justice Program at Pepperdine University School of Law.  I often get asked what we do, so I wanted to take time to answer “What is global justice?”

Africa Pictures 2010 040

What is Justice?

As a lawyer, I love the word “justice”–it’s what we’re supposed to be about.  But justice is much bigger than law or lawyers, and sometimes both get in the way.

Justice is concerned with fairness and restoration.  Justice is restoring the world or a situation to how it ought to be.  Justice is the pursuit of making things whole.

Continue Reading →


How I Use Evernote for All My Research

If you’re like me, you are inundated with interesting Internet articles worth keeping or ideas you want to remember.  Just today, I found an article (opened on my browser for the last week) about whether a burrito is legally a sandwich.  It’s something I might want some day if I teach the right class, but if I close the browser, I know it will forever be lost on the abyss of the Internet.


Thankfully, there’s a solution: Evernote.

For the last year, it’s been one of my favorite tools.  I’ve used it to collect research for two law review articles, organize material for two book projects, and archive all kinds of random articles and ideas I’ve found.  Here’s how it has solved five of my biggest headaches: Continue Reading →


Caught Up in the Moment with Ugandan Judges

I’m exhausted tonight.  My last two days have been non-stop for 15 and 12 hours each respectively.  At Pepperdine, we are hosting a delegation of justices from Uganda.  We make sure that every detail of their day is planned from breakfast until they return to their hotels after dinner.  Although I’m tired, I speculate that I might one day look back on these visits–and the conversations–with awe and wonder.  Sometimes (especially when things are exhausting) its hard for us to see things clearly in the moment.


Our current Ugandan visitors include Deputy Chief Justice Bahigeine, Principal Judge Bamwine, and Justice Kiryabwire.  The Deputy Chief Justice was one of the FIRST women lawyers in Uganda–she was a true pioneer in the legal profession.  The Principal Judge has had a prestigious career in the law and now oversees all of Uganda’s trial courts.  He has a very important job in determining how justice is practically sought and made accessible in Uganda.  Justice Kiryabwire is the head of the Commercial Division of the High Court, a brilliant legal mind, and one of Pepperdine’s greatest allies.

Over lunch today, we held conversations in our law school conference room about enhancing Uganda’s legal system.  The great challenge in Uganda is a lack of resources–both financial and human.  As a result, the rather young judicial system must be quick, open-minded, and,most of all, innovative.

Our conversation often reflected upon decisions the U.S. judicial system made a few decades ago (the U.S. is a much older judicial system with a larger pool of resources).  In this case, we talked about sentence guidelines for creating consistency in how criminal cases are resolved and plea bargain for allowing those charged with crimes an alternative to trial.

At our table, the Ugandan justices were considering decisions that would dramatically change how the justice system is made available to a nation of 30+ million people.  We were having discussions with Uganda’s #2 and #3 in command of the judicial branch on matters that would remold a nation.  It was as if we were sitting down with America’s founding fathers, such as Jefferson, Hamilton, and John Jay, to talk out how America’s system of government might be designed.

It hit me later how significant these conversations could be.  There’s a cautionary phrase about getting “caught up in the moment” and losing sight of the bigger picture.  Other times, we have the opposite problem.  We get so exhausted in the big picture, that we lose the moment.  We miss how incredible small meetings or details can be.

Our previous delegation from Uganda included the Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki.  Odoki is an international legal giant and the father of Uganda’s Constitution (he penned it himself).  I spent a week driving Chief Justice Odoki around the Los Angeles area and Pepperdine’s campus.

Justice Kiryabwire reminded me yesterday how unique that moment was.  He said how few Ugandans can say they had the privilege of driving the Chief Justice.  “Wow,” I thought for a moment, “I drove the Chief Justice.”  And, I didn’t just drive him around, I rode roller coasters with him at Disneyland!

These are moments I want to remember.   In these moments I was a fly on the wall for a world-shaping conversation or I was privileged to drive the leader of a nation.  While nation-shaping moments don’t happen everyday, other spectacular moments do.  Lisa had to point out the brilliant, pink flowering tree that I ducked under every day coming into our apartment.  It’s marvelous, but I had missed it for the big picture.

I need to get caught up in the moment more often.


Bob Goff Kicks Off Global Justice Speakers Series Tomorrow


Don’t miss the first Global Justice Speaker Series event with Bob Goff!  Friend, mentor, and adjunct professor to many at Pepperdine, Bob is a favorite speaker at the law school.  You will leave filled with whimsy and encouraged about what you can accomplish in life and the law.

Join us Wednesday, August 31st, in Classroom E from 12:30-1:30 p.m. to learn what it means to be a “secretly amazing human rights lawyer.”  Bob, a construction defect lawyer, founded Restore International to seek audacious acts of justice of kids.  Restore fights human trafficking in Uganda and India, and operates a school in Uganda.

This is the first installment of the 2011-2012 Global Justice Speaker Series.


What We Do at Pepperdine Law

Below you will find a glimpse of the work I'm involved with on a daily basis at Pepperdine.  This article is reposted from the Pepperdine website:

Mae La Camp - Church

Forty-eight Students Serve in Public Interest Placements this Summer

Forty-eight Pepperdine Law students will embark on national and international public interest placements this summer. Thirty-one students will work stateside in locations ranging from downtown Los Angeles to New York, and 17 students will travel abroad to work on global justice initiatives.

The School of Law has provided more than $118,000 in stipends to support the students’ work. Sources of funding include the student organization Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL), which raised funds through a silent auction at the Law School Dinner and a live auction held at the law school. Other sources of funds include the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on law, Religion, and Ethics, and the Dean Ken Starr Excellence Fund.

Students serving in the United States this summer will work at placements such as UNICEF, the Los Angeles and Ventura County Public Defender’s Office, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Bet Tzedek, and the Pepperdine Legal Aid Clinic at the Union Rescue Mission, among other organizations.

Pepperdine’s Global Justice Program will send 17 students to assist judges, government lawyers, and human rights organizations in Ghana, India, Peru, Rwanda, and Uganda. Eight students will be working for the Ugandan Judiciary, two with the Rwanda Ministry of Justice, two for Paz y Esperanza in Peru, two for the Supreme Court of Ghana, two for Dalit Freedom Network, and one with International Justice Mission. Students will live and serve within the communities for the duration of their experience.

“I’m most looking forward to working in the highest court of an African country whose constitution is less than 20 years old,” said third-year student Brian Freano who will be working with the Supreme Court of Ghana. “I think the job I’ll be doing is important to help promulgate democracy in Ghana through the judicial system, and I think our presence as American students will subtly strengthen relationships between Ghana and the United States. I want to be a blessing to the people with whom I come into contact and serving the Ghanian people through their judicial system provides the opportunity to pursue justice in a way that is unavailable to me in the United States.”

Second-year student Rebecca Getman looks forward to spending the summer working with the Dalit Freedom Network in India. “In my future legal career, I intend to pursue some sort of public interest work, whether that will be with children, the homeless, immigrants, or human rights,” she explains. “I feel this summer will help open my eyes to the terrible life situations people face and how much they are in need of a voice and someone to represent them.”

The public interest work these students will undertake ranges from local legal aid work to international human rights. “We are very proud of our students who are engaging in public interest work across the world this summer,” says Vice Dean Tim Perrin. “At Pepperdine we take very seriously our obligation to serve those in need whether locally, nationally, or internationally.”

Visit Pepperdine's Global Justice Program. 

Visit Advocates for Public Interest Law. 


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