Alumni in Academia: Alumnus finds his calling in higher education
Dr. Carlo Pedrioli, ’02, did not always intend to become a law professor. However, he found his calling in teaching and has been a law professor at various schools in the United States and the United Kingdom for the last fourteen years.
He developed an interest in argumentation and public speaking during his high school years at Oakdale High School in Oakdale, California. Unfortunately, Pedrioli's high school did not have a debate team, so he was unable to become involved in debate at that point in his education.
Pedrioli earned a bachelor's degree from California State University, Stanislaus in Communication and English. In time, he joined his college speech and debate team which allowed him to become more comfortable talking in front of a large audience.
“My love for getting involved in the law field started in my high school years, where it just very much came alive for me,” Pedrioli said. “It was sad that my high school did not have a debate team because I do believe it would have helped me understand more efficiently while on my undergrad debate team instead of having to learn everything while I was there."
Since Pedrioli had planned to enroll in law school since his high school years, it was no surprise when he chose to attend McGeorge School of Law in 1999. Like many students, he found the first year of law school stressful as he adjusted to the amount and nature of reading, studying, and exam-taking.
“In my opinion, I think if I had an idea of what the law school process was like, I could have done better,” Pedrioli said. “But I was able to get through my first year and continue onto my next years with a better understanding.”
After entering his third year of law school, he began to see an improvement in his work product, and he felt more able to handle the workload in his courses. Having acclimated to legal terminology and assessment methods, he still had the nervousness that many law students have throughout their studies, he explained.
“Even though McGeorge was rough for me, it was where I got my law career started," Pedrioli explained. “Each year taught me something brand new in the field, as well as about myself, and I am grateful for that."
Pedrioli received his JD degree in 2002 from McGeorge School of Law, but his studies did not end there. Later that year, he enrolled at the University of Utah, where he earned both a Master's degree (2003) and a Ph.D. (2005) in Speech Communication, which helped him further develop a passion for both public address and legal communication. It was while he was pursuing a Ph.D. that Pedrioli first taught Mass Communication Law and Constitutional Law at the University of Utah, and coached intercollegiate debate.
“During my Ph.D., I was teaching — and this was not something I always wanted to do, because originally, I was interested in being a practitioner,” Pedrioli mentioned. “Teaching higher education first came into mind when I was exposed in my undergrad, and I saw that most of the professors had flexible jobs and were genuinely happy.”
While in academia, Pedrioli has provided pro bono representation to indigent litigants in federal court in the U.S., particularly at the appellate level. Some of this pro bono work has taken place with the diligent assistance of outstanding law students.
It became apparent to him over time that he was becoming more academic, and less practice focused. During his career, he worked as a legal aid attorney with the Modesto office of California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) between graduate school and becoming a professor. At CRLA, most of his work involved representing indigent clients in the areas of housing, employment, and elder law.
In 2017, he accepted a position teaching in the United Kingdom, where he taught for four years and learned more about the differences between the American and British legal education systems.
"In the U.S., you have a variety of adult law students in graduate programs, where you don't have to babysit them since they've been in college," Pedrioli said.
“But as for the U.K. students, who are undergraduates, [they] begin their law careers at getting their bachelor’s degree,” he said.
Pedrioli returned to the United States in the fall of 2021 and has been establishing his roots at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he continues to teach various courses, focusing on public law. In addition to teaching, Pedrioli has also been investing time in recent research for a book on the tension between theory and practice in American law teaching from the late nineteenth century to the present.
“I plan to hunker down on this during the summer when I’m not teaching and just sit down and do what the editors have told me to do for research as well as for editing,” Pedrioli said.
In addition to this forthcoming publication, he has also published research papers in areas including fundamental rights, social justice, critical theory, law and rhetoric, and the history of legal education.
As one of many McGeorge alumni who joined the legal academy, Pedrioli decided he would like to leave a blueprint for future McGeorge students to follow to achieve the same success he has achieved.
“Get a few years of practice experience before getting into academics; also get the chance to understand your audience and adapt to your audience,” Pedrioli said. "Also, for the students wanting to earn a Ph.D., make sure when going to law school you take a few years to acquire practice experience. Then gradually transfer over to academics, and well down the road during [law school], definitely do a lot of research. It will help you in the long run.”
For more information about McGeorge School of Law, visit our website.