Gary and Nava Dordick, J.D. ’23, followed unconventional paths to becoming lawyers. Gary, founder of Dordick Law Corporation, a Los Angeles-based law firm known for its specialization in civil litigation and multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements and an honoree of the 2023 Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) Hall of Fame, went directly from high school to earn his law degree at an unaccredited night school. Nava, who works alongside Gary at Dordick Law Corporation, had always wanted to attend law school, but was raised by a single mom who encouraged her to pursue a family over education. Nava is proud to have recently graduated from LMU Loyola Law School after earning her college degree at age 40 and raising their children.
Their passion for education has been passed down to their five children and fueled their recent $8 million gift to Loyola Law School to establish the LMU Loyola Law School Dordick Family Trial Advocacy Fund, supporting the school’s nationally ranked Trial Advocacy Programs. “I saw the education that Nava and our daughter, Taylor ’15, J.D. ’19, received at Loyola Law School, and every person we met at the school had a common goal of doing what was best for students,” said Gary. “Every year we hire law clerks from the law school’s alumni base and, without exception, they have been extraordinary. We’ve been so impressed with everything related to the school that we wanted to be more involved and make a long-term commitment to the education that the law school provides to the community.”
The Dordicks’ gift specifies a commitment to diversifying the legal profession, something that starts in the classroom by ensuring different perspectives and stories are heard. Interim Dean Brie Clark explains why this is so critical to the field: “As lawyers, we must step into the shoes of the clients we represent in order to gain a full understanding of what they need, how they’ve been injured, and what justice means to them. Then we must translate that information into effective advocacy, whether in settlement conferences, mediation, or court. This translation requires not only a mastery of the legal language, but also an ability to listen to, empathize with, and appreciate the experiences of the people coming to us for help.”
A dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives is deeply rooted in both the law school and its advocacy programs. Just ask Susan Poehls, J.D. ’89, P ’14, P ’18 director of Trial Advocacy Programs and the William C. Hobbs Professor of Trial Advocacy. Poehls has been leading the Trial Advocacy Programs since 1990 and has seen nearly every student who participates in its hands-on training. One of her former first-generation students is Kenny Ramirez, J.D. ’14, who continues to inspire students as a volunteer, speaker, and donor.
“When Kenny was on our team, he was a shy student,” she recalls. “We didn’t have enough tournaments for him to participate, so he sat on the sidelines for one semester and watched. When he got to do a tournament, we saw a huge development in his skills, but he only got to participate on the team for one year. Since then, he’s talked about how much that meant to him and how it helped him accomplish all the things he’s done since, including opening his own law firm.”
The gift from the Dordicks will enable more students like Kenny to participate in hands-on trial advocacy competitions, regarded as one of the most effective ways to train future trial lawyers. The funds also will expand the number of competitions in which the law school can participate, thereby increasing the students’ training opportunities.
“Kenny comes back every year to speak to our students and just lights up the room with his positivity about the program,” said Poehls. “That’s the kind of inspiration that gifts like this elicit. Similarly, when students see people like Gary and Nava Dordick investing in our program, they want to come back as alumni volunteers or donors. Not everyone can make a gift of this size like Gary and Nava Dordick did, but they can be inspired by them. This gift will continue to motivate students, who will come back to do great things as alumni.”
Students participating in the law school’s Trial Advocacy Programs are a source of pride and inspiration for the Dordicks. “I’ve volunteered as a judge at many of the competitions, and the level of talent that I’ve seen in that program and in competition is unbelievable,” said Gary. “I’ve frequently seen student advocates performing much better than the lawyers I’ve seen in courtrooms on a daily basis.”
He added, “Loyola Law School has a wonderful reputation for producing some of the finest lawyers and judges in the U.S., and we are happy to join the LLS community as long-term partners. I see it as my responsibility to give back to the community. I think it’s important for everyone to do what they can in whatever way they can. It doesn’t have to be with a donation of money; it can be with a commitment of time and energy to make the legal profession better. For us, we try to do both.”
To support LMU Loyola Law School students through scholarships, contact Jamal Barakat, director of development, at 310.568.7148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.