Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law

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Located in beautiful Malibu, California, the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law (Pepperdine Law) is home to one of the nation’s top dispute resolution programs and has a long history of creating leaders in both law and business. Its name is derived from billionaire alumnus Rick Caruso who donated $50 million to the school–one of the largest private donations in the history of law schools. Pepperdine Law also houses center for judicial clerkships as well as the intersection of law and religion, a nod to the school’s Christian heritage. Pepperdine Law has produced notably lawyers in diverse fields including the current manager of the Charlotte Hornets, Rich Cho, and Edward Hugler, the current Secretary of Labor.


Pepperdine Law requires 88 hours of coursework for all Juris Doctor candidates. The degree, however, may be completed in a traditional three-year program or in an accelerated two-year program which requires additional work over the summer. In the traditional program, first-year students study the core courses of legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also complete a year-long course on legal research and writing as an introductory course to professional formation. Accelerated J.D. candidates begin the first-year curriculum in May and continue through their second summer to include an additional 24 hours of course work.

Upper-class students have a number of required courses that build on the foundation built in the prior year: a second course in constitutional law, a second course in criminal law, evidence, corporations, ethics, remedies, and wills and trusts. These requirements are some of the most stringent of any law school and ensure that all graduates have exposure to an array of legal concepts. Students must also satisfy an upper-level writing requirement, and complete experiential learning credits. Students may also opt for one of Pepperdine Law’s five legal concentrations which are focused on a particular practice area. Of note, Pepperdine Law is ranked as one of the best law schools for dispute resolution.

Pepperdine Law also has an extended Juris Doctor track which allows students to complete all requirements in as many as 7 years.

Additional Programs

Along with its Juris Doctor degree, Pepperdine offers several additional professional degrees designed for bother lawyers and other professionals. For lawyers, the law school confers a Master of Law (LL.M) with several concentrations. For foreign-educated lawyers, Pepperdine Law has a general LL.M focused on the basics of the American legal system. For domestically educated lawyers, Pepperdine offers an LL.M concentration in a variety of subjects including sports and entertainment law and their award-winning dispute resolution program. The concentration in dispute resolution is also available in an online format.

For non-attorneys, Pepperdine Law has two programs designed to incorporate the principals of a legal education into other professional careers. The Master of Dispute Resolution (M.D.R.) degree provides a year-long program that teaches the law and skill of negotiation and dispute resolution. The Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree provides a foundation in the legal system for professionals whose careers overlap with the law. Both these programs are also available in an online format.

Career and Career Placement

Statistics from the most recent graduating classes indicated that over 87% of all graduates from Pepperdine Law are employed in careers that require a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree within 10 months of graduation. An additional 5% of graduates pursue additional legal education after graduation. Over 65% of graduates pursued careers in traditional law firm positions with over half of students opting for law firms of less than 25 attorneys. Smaller percentages of graduates chose careers in the public interest or the business sector. Overwhelmingly, Pepperdine Law graduates remain in California to begin their careers.

The staff of six professionals in the Pepperdine Law Career Center offers students and alumni a number of career related services both individual and programmatic. Aside from organizing the fall and spring on-campus interview programs, the staff offers one-on-one counseling to every student as well as resume clinics and interview prep sessions. The Career Center also offers a number of events targeted at their diverse student body.

Experiential Learning/Distance Education

One of the missions of Pepperdine Law is to graduate “practice-ready” attorneys whose coursework includes skill-based courses in conjunction with their academic lessons. Under the banner of Pepperdine Law’s “clinical education” is a trio of experiential education opportunities. Foremost is the school’s law clinic where students work with real clients on a variety of legal issues. In clinics, students learn valuable skills from witness interviewing to actual litigation. Clinical education also includes externships and practicums. During an externship, students spend a semester working in a law office around the city of Los Angeles (or beyond in some cases). Practicums allow students to spend a semester solving a real-world legal problem with their classmates. Practicums often require interdisciplinary skills to solve the increasingly complicated legal problems of the modern world.

Since the early 1970s, Pepperdine Law has also housed one of the most active and successful trial advocacy programs. Students can compete in either trial or appellate advocacy competitions either at Pepperdine Law or across the country.

Pepperdine Law does not have a distance education option for its Juris Doctor program. The school, however, does offer several flexible options that allow students to complete the degree part-time. Pepperdine Law does have several Masters program that can be completed online.

Student Life

Set on the hillside community of Malibu overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Pepperdine Law is set in one of the most coveted locations in the world. The law school is an open community that celebrates and welcomes students of all faiths and beliefs while still honoring its Christian heritage with weekly Bible studies and religious services held on campus. Pepperdine Law also offers students a range of services intended to enhance their studies and ensure their success. Services include academic training, bar exam preparation, and professional counseling. Pepperdine Law’s student organization offer over 40 student-run organizations of which 25% are rooted in celebrating the diversity of the student body.

Housing in Malibu is available through the beautiful on-campus apartments located directly across from the law school and walking distance of the ocean. Students also live in the many surrounding communities of Malibu. Wherever they live, students enjoy the greater Los Angeles community famed for its entertainment, beaches, and outdoor recreation.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?