“Once I am appointed a mentee, it’s for life.” Otto P. Cipolla (JD ‘83) first assumed the role as preceptor in 2012 upon the program’s official induction to the law school, and he says that mentoring students has been the most rewarding activity in the last twenty years of his career. Otto’s immense dedication to the law school resulted in an eponymous award. The Otto P. Cipolla, Jr., Preceptor of the Year Award at Pepperdine Law recognizes outstanding service by the school’s Preceptors—a group of practicing attorneys and judges who mentor one or more first-year law students at Pepperdine each year.
Otto goes above and beyond the expected as a mentor, frequently traveling for weddings, graduations, and even to apartment shop in Brooklyn. “I’m like their family, I tell them we are family.” Otto offers a “full service” preceptorship, meaning his relationship with law students extends beyond the classrooms and calendar of an academic year. He creates lasting bonds with students and their families and ensures that it’s a lifetime deal.
This year, Otto is retiring from the preceptor program. He hopes that more alumni will step into the preceptor role and forge lifelong mentoring relationships. What’s important, Otto explains, is that connections last beyond graduation because there is a whole new set of questions and uncertainties once students become practicing lawyers. Pepperdine Law is grateful to Otto for his dedication to the growth of the alumni network and the wealth of time he has committed to our students over the years.