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Alumni Profiles


Clare Rice

Marcio Vasconcellos

“Earning my master of dispute resolution from the Straus Institute sharpened the gifts and skills in my heart while giving them academic credibility.” For Clare Rice (MDR ’13), mediating conflict felt like an instinctual calling. After earning her master of dispute resolution from the Straus Institute, Rice joined the Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement as executive director and also acts as director of care for Encounter Church. Splitting her time between the two organizations, Rice’s dispute resolution training comes into play every single day whether it’s in court or managing conflict between employees or volunteers. In addition, she trains professionals from a variety of fields to mediate in small claims, divorce, and family court. She says that resolution skills are "transformative" and are invaluable in strengthening households and systems.

Dispute resolution skills play the primary role in the career of Marcio Vasconcellos (LLM ’16), a commercial arbitration attorney with Musick, Peeler & Garrett LLP. Vasconcellos practiced for several years in Brazil before relocating to California specifically for the dispute resolution training at Straus. What drew him to the LLM program was the focus on international arbitration coupled with the University’s commitment to each individual’s academic progress and personal well-being. He explains that the Straus Institute unequivocally prepares graduates for a successful career in international arbitration through its extensive and practical course work. What’s more, he says, is the professors at Pepperdine simply “cared the most.”

Audie Attar

Michael Zacharia

Audie Attar (MBA ’10) earned his MBA with a certificate in dispute resolution at a time when his professional and personal paths were undergoing a paradigm shift. “I was ready to start something of my own; I knew I wanted to get my black belt in areas applicable to my field.” As former Division I athlete, Attar often applies sports metaphors to describe his work as founder and president of Paradigm Sports Management. The joint degree program offered by Graziadio and the Straus Institute allowed him to gain the necessary experience as an entrepreneur, negotiator, and mediator to be successful in sports management. Attar is the agent behind some of the biggest contract negotiations in sports, including that of mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor. Attar describes Straus as a high-level training environment with great coaches and teachers that sharpens professionals for whatever field they choose to pursue.

Michael Zacharia (LLM ’10) spent his career as a conflict mediator and international negotiator. Whether in Hong Kong as general counsel and secretary of DFS Group Limited, the world's largest travel retail company; as assistant secretary of commerce for export administration under President Ronald Reagan; partner in the renowned Washington, DC, law firm of Wiley, Rein & Fielding; or in his current role as an executive coach to a select group of top executives, including Fortune 150 companies, Zacharia understood that conflict resolution was at his core, thus leading him to the Straus Institute where he earned his LLM in 2010. Zacharia calls the Straus experience “phenomenal” and recognizes an inherent moral foundation to the Straus enterprise. He remains a part of Straus as an adjunct professor of law, offering a course in cross-cultural negotiation and dispute resolution and as cofounder of the Faith Based Diplomacy Project. In 2011 the Pacis Project was honored as Peacemaker of the Year by the Association for Conflict Resolution.

Pepperdine Law Inside Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution  
Pepperdine Law Inside Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution  

After completing its milestone 30th year, the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution looks forward towards a new era as a leader in the fie...