The Law School is on the march with an historic, foundational gift that lifts faculty and students, both now and post-graduation, and provides opportunities for alumni to grow in their careers through robust lifelong learning programs. Faculty hiring, student support, cross-disciplinary offerings, the experiential learning curriculum, the public service program — all benefit from the generosity of the W. P. Carey Foundation. There’s an emphasis on innovation and change. And doors open wider for students from underrepresented backgrounds. The future is here.
By Larry Teitelbaum
As befits someone who leads the Future of the Profession Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, Jennifer Leonard L’04 is already looking to the horizon, considering the multiplier effect of the historic gift from the W. P. Carey Foundation.

One year ago, in November, the Foundation donated $125 million to the school. It was the largest gift to a law school in history.

“The gift gives us the ability to amplify, in a massive way, what a forward-thinking, leading law school should and could be doing,” said Leonard, the Law School’s Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director of the Future of the Profession Initiative. “It allows us to take more of a moonshot approach to everything that we’ve been building toward, and it comes when that approach is really necessary to boost us through this accelerated time of change.”

In Leonard’s view, the Law School now has an opportunity to solidify its reputation as a center of legal innovation, funding student ideas to deliver legal services in new ways and producing tech-savvy graduates who comprehend market forces and can help lead law firms, public interest organizations and NewLaw ventures into the future.

“I hope in five years that we have this rich community of students” who are drivers of change, Leonard said, envisioning a virtuous circle in which graduates steeped in innovation serve as mentors to students who are about to enter the profession.

As much as the gift is about the future, it is having an immediate impact. In just one year, the Law School has recruited to the faculty several new stars, has developed far-reaching lifelong learning programs, has provided additional funding for experiential learning in public interest, and has expanded the school’s interdisciplinary focus. Meanwhile, the infusion of resources has enabled the Law School to freeze tuition at last year’s level while it maintains a double-digit percentage increase in financial aid.

“This is a gift that will go on indefinitely in a very meaningful way,” said Perry Golkin W’74, WG’74, L’78, former Chair of the Board of Advisors at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. “It literally takes us from one level to another. It really gives us tremendous latitude to do things, to test things, to expand things.”

When the Law School announced the gift from the W. P. Carey Foundation in November 2019, no one could have foreseen the changed world we were about to experience. Last spring, the worst pandemic in 100 years hit the world, the country, the University and the Law School, followed by civil unrest unleashed by ongoing police brutality.

During the pandemic, the Law School has not missed a beat, immediately shifting 190 classes online with the help of the Biddle Law Library staff, which scanned and compiled thousands of pages of 1L course materials while coordinating with legal publishers to obtain complimentary online access to textbooks for students.

Experiential opportunities continued virtually, including all externships, clinics, and mock trials. This included students in Legal Practice Skills, the first-year course dedicated to teaching fundamental lawyering skills. They completed their oral arguments before a panel of peer student judges over Zoom video conference.

The Law School provided housing assistance to students who needed it and nearly 10 percent of the student population facing food insecurity received meal support.

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The gift gives us the ability to amplify, in a massive way, what a forward-thinking, leading law school should and could be doing.
Jennifer Leonard L’04,
Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director of the Future of the Profession Initiative
While classes and spring graduation ceremonies were shifted virtually, Penn Carey Law also assured its community that the switch to remote learning would not impact any JD or LLM’s eligibility to sit for the New York state bar, obtaining a waiver of distance learning restrictions from the New York Court of Appeals. Additionally, all students including 2020 graduates, were offered summer courses for the first time ever.

This fall, students returned to a hybrid model with a combination of in-person and remote classes, as the Law School continued to create new ways of teaching and learning in virtual environments.

In addition to the flexibility that the Carey gift provided the Law School to adapt to the pandemic, the Law School remained focused on its ambitious goals for the gift, which include:

  • Recruiting and retaining the absolute best scholars and teachers.
  • Providing an unparalleled student experience.
  • Investing in the future of legal education and the law.
  • Promoting a diverse and inclusive community.
  • Expanding public interest support and programming.
  • Building lifelong learning opportunities.

“This gift is a transformational step toward making us more like the most elite law schools in that we have significant endowment funds to deploy to help the people who comprise our institution,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Golkin agrees that the Law School is now positioned — and will be for the foreseeable future — to recruit star faculty, one of the hallmarks of a great institution.

Two of Penn Carey Law’s new faculty members were listed among the top 10 most important hires in the University of Chicago Law School Brian Leiter’s influential ranking of top lateral hiring.

Golkin, who himself is a popular adjunct professor at the Law School, put it succinctly: “Do we end up having the most recognized faculty in the country? Do we end up with areas of excellence that are second to none? And to me, that’s the magic … whether we can take that stronger financial foundation and apply it in a way” that puts the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School at the very top of legal education.

The Building of a Stellar Faculty
The Law School faculty has a well-established reputation for innovation — in recent years conducting and publishing illuminating research on diverse subjects such as judicial independence, criminal justice reform, net neutrality, contract enforcement, and abolition constitutionalism.

In that vein, Penn Carey Law School is in the Top 10 among American law schools for academic citations. In that tradition, the Law School is broadening its faculty with the help of the Carey gift, bringing aboard a group of innovators (four of whom are graduates of this law school) who embody a range of diverse perspectives and methodologies.

This year, the Law School successfully recruited top-line talent in Kimberly Kessler Ferzan L’95, Karen Tani L’07, PhD’11, and Yanbai Andrea Wang. (See page 28 for more details). They join recent hires Shaun Ossei-Owusu, Elizabeth Pollman, and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Presidential Assistant Professor of Law Shaun Ossei-Owusu shines a light on the need for more diversity in the legal profession; Professor of Law Elizabeth Pollman, Co-Director of the Law School’s Institute of Law and Economics, studies startups, entrepreneurship, and law and technology; and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the Perry World House Professor of Practice of Law & Human Rights, is an authority on human rights law and international criminal law.

Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Earle Hepburn Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Law School’s Institute of Law & Philosophy, is an award-winning scholar in the area of criminal law theory; A celebrated legal historian, Karen Tani is the University of Pennsylvania’s 24th Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor; and Assistant Professor of Law Yanbai Andrea Wang explores the emerging systems of transnational civil litigation and arbitration.

In addition, the Law School announced six distinguished visitors and extended faculty for the academic year: Benjamin Jealous, former President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP); Sandra G. Mayson, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law; Jennifer Rothman of LMU Loyola Law School; Jim Sandman L’76, President Emeritus of Legal Services Corporation; Leo Strine L’88, former Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court; and Miguel Willis, an emerging leader in the access to justice movement.

Student Financial Support
Beyond the faculty, the gift also provides much needed student support. Funding is available to a range of students for bar preparation and bar registration fees — which benefits students entering public service, LLM students, and law clerks.

“It is a really stressful time and incurring even more debt when preparing to start a great but not high-paying job, or when you’re not yet sure what your post-graduate job will be, is pretty daunting,” said Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and Associate Dean for Equity & Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. “This is an exciting opportunity for the Law School to help reduce that cost, and thereby that stress, on our students as they launch their careers.”

In addition, there is a 33 percent increase in support for public interest summer fellowships in the 1L and 2L years, as well as more support for post-graduate fellowships, with the number of the latter tripling this year due to the gift, paving the way for projects that involved children and nutrition; communities most affected by climate change; the rights of essential workers and workers’ rights in the midst of the pandemic; the misuse of federal religious laws to discriminate against women and LGBTQ+ communities; and pretrial and probation-related incarceration practices.

Similarly, the Law School is defraying costs associated with travel for clerkship interviews and for travel to Washington, DC and New York for externships. And 90-plus student groups have received a 50 percent budget increase, which allows for more ambitious programming. For example, The Muslim Law Students Association sent seven students, the most ever, to the 3rd Annual National MLSA Conference in Chicago, and in a collaborative effort the Black Law Students Association, the American Constitution Society, and the National Lawyers Guild brought to campus Darnell Epps, a formerly incarcerated senior at Cornell University who spoke to nearly 100 students.

Penn Carey Law’s leading cross-disciplinary program is expected to flourish with the Carey gift.
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76% of the Class of 2019 graduated with a joint degree or certificate (or both)
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Over 35 Joint Degrees and Certificate Programs offered in conjunction with other Penn schools and departments
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1 Campus in Philadelphia linking ALL of Penn’s partner schools
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The Carey gift is an affirmation of the strength and direction of the Law School’s leading cross-disciplinary program, the depth and breadth of which is unparalleled in legal education. Penn Carey Law offers students numerous cross-disciplinary opportunities, from classes at the University’s top-rated sister schools to a deep roster of joint degrees and certificates of study, including a new certificate (with more to come) in Africana Studies that will cultivate a deeper appreciation for the peoples of Africa and their diaspora through interdisciplinary, comparative, and transnational study.

The gift will also provide the means for the Law School to create a more inclusive community which will entail increasing support for students, advancing conversations about racial justice, and examining physical spaces on campus, with the goal of promoting real and lasting change. This initiative, as well, includes an effort to recruit more students from underrepresented backgrounds, such as those who are in the first in their families to attend college. This year the Law School inaugurated a pre-orientation program featuring discussions on Law & Inequality and a workshop titled “Rethinking Otherness,” hosted by the Office of Inclusion & Engagement, that explored longstanding invisible norms and biases in the legal profession.

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Programs that support underrepresented communities are vital to ensure that we’re not simply bringing diverse individuals into a space that isn’t designed for them and concluding that we’ve done our job.
Victoria Sanchez 2L,
Former Member of the Law School’s
Inclusion & Engagement Student Advisory Board
“Programs that support underrepresented communities are vital to ensure that we’re not simply bringing diverse individuals into a space that isn’t designed for them and concluding that we’ve done our job,” said Victoria Sanchez 2L, a former member of the Law School’s Inclusion & Engagement Student Advisory Board and current Co-President of the Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA). “Our job goes beyond increasing diversity — our job is to intentionally and actively support underrepresented students in ways that account for historic and systemic inequalities that still affect them, so that they can be, not just successful at Penn Law, but truly thrive and find a home here.”

Alumni Opportunities Abound for Lifelong Learning
There is as well a need for ongoing supplemental training so that alumni can prosper at all stages of their careers in a rapidly changing legal environment. To address that need, Penn Carey Law is creating through the Carey gift a full suite of lifelong learning programs. Offerings include new customized programs for both young alumni and more seasoned professionals who need to refresh their skills.

In addition, free CLE courses are being offered to alumni, and there will be live events, panel discussions, conferences, an expansion of online courses, interactive webinars, podcasts on substantive areas of the law, and combinations of classroom and online learning, all of which will put Penn Carey Law at the forefront of continuing education and supplemental training.

Like lifelong learning, the new Future of the Profession Initiative is a beneficiary of the Carey gift. One year in, the dividends are clear. FPI developed an online series called Reimagining the Future that brought together leading legal thinkers to explore the changes wrought by legal technology and to discuss reforms to the legal profession, legal education and legal operations.

Alumni have a menu of free CLE courses to choose from as the Law School expands offerings
Alumni have a menu of free CLE courses to choose from as the Law School expands offerings.
Leonard, who leads FPI, said the Law School is working with Career Planning & Professionalism to create a range of internship opportunities with legal tech start-ups and in-house incubators, and separately is consulting with schools and centers on campus to promote innovation competitions available to enterprising students who submit ideas to solve the most intractable problems affecting the profession and the delivery of legal services.

With law firms and legal departments rethinking their business models and new ideas emerging about how to better serve clients, Leonard said law schools have to stay one step ahead of the curve to produce graduates who shape the market.

One year after the Carey gift, the Law School has put forward a transformative plan to create the next generation of leaders, launching students on a path to promising and rewarding careers; it is adding transformative thinkers to its faculty at a prodigious clip; and it is paving the way for alumni to continue their education at different junctures of their careers without leaving home.

Osagie Imasogie LLM’85, Chair of the Law School Board of Advisors and an entrepreneur who has funded and founded several startups in the pharmaceutical industry, is bullish on the future of the Law School.

In the years ahead he sees a “more exciting, more vibrant, more inclusive, more intellectually stimulating law school,” and a law school in which “our prestige, our ranking, and the quality of our applicants will all go up.”

A fitting legacy for the largest gift in law school history.