50 for 50 Spotlight: Terry M. Giles (JD ’74)

 “I don’t think I’d be the lawyer that I am if not for the teaching and mentoring at Pepperdine Law.”

Terry M. Giles never gives up. He believes in empowering people to dream their dreams and to set their minds to accomplishing those dreams. Just like he did. Born on July 3, 1948, Giles attended 21 schools in a 10-year period, settling in long enough to earn a debate scholarship to the University of California at Fullerton and later earning his juris doctorate in 1974 from Pepperdine Law . At the law school, he was a moot court champion, winning the school’s first ever scholarship (in the amount of $100), and he continues his involvement with the University as a member of the Board of Regents. He also established the Terry M. Giles Honor Scholarship at Pepperdine Law.

Terry Giles holds a well-established place in Pepperdine Law’s history. In 1992, Giles was awarded Pepperdine Law’s highest alumni honor when he was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Since 1996, Mr. Giles has served as a member of The Board of Regents, the legal governing body and chief policy board of Pepperdine University. He received the Medal of Honor Alumni Award from Pepperdine and was named a Life Regent in 2014. He also served as an adjunct professor at the law school before moving to Texas. Giles has endowed a number of awards and scholarships at the law school, and for decades, he has traveled to Malibu each year to interview candidates for the Terry M. Giles Honor Scholarship. He counts choosing winners among the hardest decisions he has to make.

Giles said, “I really appreciated how supportive Pepperdine was; I appreciated who Pepperdine was; I appreciated the emphasis that they placed on morality and ethics. I don’t think I’d be the lawyer that I am if not for the teaching and mentoring at Pepperdine Law.” He continued to describe the meaningful relationship with Dean Ronald Phillips, who, in 1971, was just beginning his tenure as dean, and how that friendship had a profound impact on his student experience. 

Dean Phillips recalled some equally fond words about Giles: “Terry Giles and I had our first conversation in 1971, when he was considering enrolling in Pepperdine Law School. We have been friends ever since, with our friendship continually deepening over the years, and adding various members of our respective families along the way. Terry is one of the most gifted people I have ever met. He has demonstrated over and over that people of great accomplishment invariably trust him almost immediately, and they call upon him to become their special confidant and adviser – and they benefit greatly by doing so. Terry is a most effective trial lawyer, appellate lawyer, entrepreneur, teacher, writer, and the list could continue on and on. I am most grateful that he and his family are regularly in my life, and that he has been so deeply involved in the life of Pepperdine University, and especially the law school.”

When asked what he hopes to see for the next fifty years of Pepperdine Law’s history, Giles expressed his desire to see Pepperdine thrive. “I think the law school is in good hands,” he stated, “and I have a feeling that things will continue to sparkle for the law school.” 

On October 30, Giles and his wife, Kalli O’Malley, will open the doors of their Houston home to alumni, family, and friends for a welcome reception celebrating President Jim Gash. Houston Waves are invited to meet President Gash, the first alumnus to lead Pepperdine in this role, and share in his efforts to build relationships, strengthen the Pepperdine community, and lay a foundation for the next chapter of the university’s story.

Registration is complimentary and includes appetizers and drinks. Click here for more details.