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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Parent school University of Pennsylvania
Location Philadelphia, PA, US
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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School is located in Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School is the law school of the University of Pennsylvania. It is currently ranked 6th overall by U.S. News & World Report, and is widely regarded as one of the best law schools in the country. [1], [2]. Students at the Law School publish the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the oldest law review in the United States. The University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business and Employment Law, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change are also official journals edited by Penn Law students. The Journal of Animal Law and Ethics is an unofficial journal of the Law School.

On November 8, 2019, the name of the law school was changed from the University of Pennsylvania Law School to the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School following a donation of $125 million from the W. P. Carey Foundation.



The University of Pennsylvania Law School officially traces its origins to a series of lectures delivered in 1790 by James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence and a Justice of the first Supreme Court of the United States. He presented his views on topics in law at a series of influential lectures to President George Washington and the members of his cabinet. Today, Penn Law is one of the elite centers of legal education in the world, and is considered one of the toughest law schools to gain admission into.[3]

Formal establishment

Following this auspicious beginning, Penn began offering a full-time program in law in 1850, under the leadership of George Sharswood, an innovator in legal education. Since that time, Penn Law has been at the forefront of legal education in the US. In 1852, a Faculty of Law was established with the addition of two more instructors. That year the department also began issuing the degree of LL.B.

At the time, entry into law in Philadelphia, as elsewhere in the country, was primarily through apprenticeship in the offices of an established attorney -- students paid for the privilege, and it was a substantial source of income from many prominent lawyers. Schools of law were few, some independent; some, as at Penn, only loosely tied to a college or university. Though the Harvard Law School had been in operation since 1817, and the University of Virginia Law School since the 1820s, nowhere was a law degree either demanded or expected for admission to the bar. Indeed, such a degree was seldom even considered by the courts as time served.

At Penn, lectures in the Law School (as it was generally known, though the name remained "Department of Law" well into the 20th century) were initially delivered by practicing attorneys during their off hours, generally during the evening. Tuition was paid directly to the lecturer -- and was the only entrance requirement. The 1854-55 department catalog carries this notation, which remained unchanged for 29 years: "Students are not examined for matriculation, nor is it possible to require, peremptorily, a college degree, or any previous line of study. This must be left to circumstances, to the views of the student, and to the influences which control him." A law degree was not a graduate or supplementary one, but the rough equivalent of an undergraduate B.A.

The courses, unlike Wilson's lectures, were grounded mostly in legal specifics, especially those pertaining to the laws of Pennsylvania. As the number of instructors and courses expanded, they covered such subjects as property, admiralty law, equity jurisprudence, and international and constitutional law. Yet even here, the courses were more theoretical than practical. No course in "practice" -- the actual nitty-gritty of functioning as a lawyer -- became required until the turn of the century, and continued to flow in and out of favor.

Rise to national prominence

The instructional system remained fundamentally the same, with the addition of some fine-tuning and more rigorous graduation requirements, until 1888. Along the way, the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania courts came to accept Law School courses as equivalent to time spent in apprenticeship for admission to the bar. The major change was physical -- the move of the University in 1872 from downtown Philadelphia across the Schuylkill River into West Philadelphia, a daring look to the future.

The revolution of 1888 achieved two major advances. First, the "proprietary model," under which the instructors basically owned and operated their courses independently, with the blessing of the University, was abolished, and the professors became salaried employees, though still teaching only part time. Second, the two-year course was extended to three, following the lead of Harvard and a few other law schools. From acting primarily as a mill to produce lawyers for the Pennsylvania courts, the Law School had become a national player. Yet, for some years to come, the vast majority of its instructors remained not only Philadelphia lawyers, but graduates of the School themselves.

Its firm establishment as a national school came with the appointment, in 1896, of William Draper Lewis as the School's dean and first full-time faculty member. A major figure in the development of the 20th-century American legal system through his 18-year deanship and later in his 25-year directorship of the American Law Institute, Lewis has, unfortunately, been relegated to a historical footnote.

A man of unflagging energy, he strengthened both the curriculum and the faculty and oversaw the opening of the new Law School building in 1900 (which remained unnamed for 70 years), then considered the largest structure devoted solely to legal education in the country, if not the world. A massive Georgian structure of brick and limestone, designed to be virtually fireproof, it incorporated the latest in current technology, including an elaborate heating and air system driven by a 10-foot fan. Unfortunately, this system never worked properly and became a symbol of mechanical hubris that dogged the School for the next half century.

Both the School and the University suffered chronically from underfunding, despite the leadership of University Provost (equivalent then to President) Charles Custis Harrison, one of the wealthiest Philadelphia businessmen, who donated much of his own money to University educational projects. Through loans and donations, Lewis assembled one of the finest law libraries in the world and made it the School's educational and physical centerpiece, under the direction of librarian Margaret Klingelsmith, a School graduate. The first and for many years only woman to direct an American law school library, Klingelsmith went at her job with the same fierce dedication as Lewis, even taking trips to England to secure rare material.

Lewis bent his efforts to hiring full-time instructors whenever possible and slowly weaned the school from its almost total dependence on its own graduates for faculty members. His tenure ended in 1914, when he made an ill-advised run for state governor on the Progressive Republican ticket, though he remained on the faculty until 1924.

His successor as dean was William Ephraim Mikell, (originally from Virginia) who happened to be one of Lewis's first hires. Unlike Lewis, Mikell was not much interested in administrative detail; however he expanded the reach of the School's hiring practices, and made the faculty for the first time as nationally diverse as the student body and the curriculum attempted to be up to that point. However, the University as a whole was drifting into one of its recurring periods of stagnation, and funding was a continual problem. In addition, World War I reduced the student body so much that the School almost closed its doors.

Innovation and progress

The prosperity of the 1920s temporarily alleviated the worst of the financial problems. By the time Mikell relinquished the deanship in 1929, several new faculty members were hired at salaries close to the national average. His last years also saw the first tentative steps toward admissions standards beyond that of an undergraduate degree. Under Mikell's leadership, the acceptance of women and African-American students (traditionally in the minority) that began under Lewis's administration continued. Jews also made significant advances towards wider acceptance. (By contrast, women were not admitted to Yale or Harvard until well into the 20th century, and Yale's dean made openly anti-Semitic remarks.) Curiously, the student body became more insular, less national.

Still, the future looked excellent for Herbert Funk Goodrich, the first dean who was neither a School faculty member nor a Philadelphian. A Minnesota native who taught at Midwestern law schools, he was the behind-the-scenes choice of former Dean Lewis, with whom he had worked closely at the American Law Institute.

Depression and stagnation

The Depression almost immediately created problems for the Goodrich administration as well as the University as a whole. By 1934 faculty salaries across the University were cut by a mandatory 10%, and the size of the School's student body continued to decline. The now-aging building systems, problematic from the start, were near collapse. Only one new faculty member was added between 1929 and 1936. About this time, the University initiated a five-year fundraising campaign and finances began slowly to inch back toward "normal."

Yet the late 1930s were not a shining era for the Law School. Despite several excellent additions to the faculty, Goodrich had little success reforming the curriculum, partly due to factional squabbling among the faculty. A reliance on an ever-expanding list of rules and regulations replaced individual (if often seat-of-the-pants) concern for students and education. The student/faculty ratio remained high by national standards, and the library -- Lewis's crown jewel -- became almost moribund, without even a full-time head librarian.

Goodrich was appointed to the Federal District Court in 1940. Twenty-five-year faculty veteran Edwin Keedy, a close colleague of former dean Mikell, was named acting dean, and assumed the full title as the World War II loomed. Despite being a good administrator, Keedy was, in effect, a placeholder while the School slid through another wartime period of minimal attendance, minimal funding and a perceived lowering of standards to meet the emergency.

Post World War II boom

The end of the war brought an explosion of the student body fueled by returning veterans. It also brought a new dean, Earl G. Harrison, the first in the 20th century without an academic background. Although a Penn Law graduate, he had spent his years in private practice and government work in the Roosevelt administration, most notably as head of the Immigration Service, which he streamlined extensively.

Harrison served a brief (1945-1948) term as dean and has been generally ignored by historians and by the School. His attempts to the change the curriculum were mostly unsuccessful. Yet he made his mark on the School by untangling the complicated grading system, and hiring several of the faculty's leading lights for the next 20 years. These faculty members started their careers under Harrison's successor, Owen J. Roberts. Roberts's national stature brought renewed notice to the School; unfortunately it absorbed some of the credit which rightfully belonged to Harrison. Harrison left the School apparently over a disagreement about the method of hiring the University's new president, former political "boy wonder" (and later perennial presidential candidate) Harold Stassen.

Roberts came to Penn Law as a graduate from 50 years previous, a faculty member from the turn of the century, a nationally recognized lawyer and administrator, and a distinguished Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He appears to have served as dean without pay.

Pioneering a modern school of law

Like Lewis, his mentor of decades past, he reinforced the Penn Law ideal of the dean as "first among equals." He pushed hard -- and more successfully than Harrison -- for an upgraded and modernized curriculum. He also introduced admissions testing as an early adopter the Law School Admissions Test. He attempted to right the grand old building's wrongs, but these were not fully overcome for many years (mostly because of lack of endowment and other guaranteed funding). During his brief (1948-1951) stint, he managed to extract guarantees from the University administration to bring faculty salaries up to par.

The man who followed Roberts, Jefferson B. Fordham, signaled the School's break with the Philadelphia old guard, as the first dean who was neither a member of the department, a graduate of the School, or a protege of Lewis. Fordham came to Penn from a similar position at Ohio State and served for 18 years (the same length of time as Lewis), 1952-1970.

It was a fortunate time for educators and for government funding, and support from the Ford Foundation was beginning to flow freely across the entire range of higher education. Fordham made the best of this, reinforcing the faculty, developing the School's first institutes for legal research, and planning the first new construction in more than a half century. The complexity of the School's administration -- previously "seat-of-the-pants" -- increased steadily. And the method of grading students went through one of its periodic upheavals. However, the University's plunge into yet another financial debacle following Stassen's departure in 1953 put hiring and salary guarantees temporarily on the back burner.

Perhaps more than any other dean, Fordham involved the faculty in decision making at every level. Though he possessed none of Lewis's or Roberts' personal flair, a scrupulous sense of ethics and democracy was his hallmark. For much of his tenure, a parade of book-length committee reports supported extensive tinkering with and expansion of the curriculum, especially in the areas of writing and student practice. Never before had both faculty and students been so involved in high-profile activism on the local and national scene.

Early on, Fordham set a goal of doubling the faculty size to lower the faculty-student ratio. Again, he was thwarted by Penn's limited finances, but on the whole he put together -- and retained-- one of the finest teams ever to teach at Penn Law.

The physical expansion of the School during Fordham's time was a more mixed blessing. Despite outside support, the dormitories and dining hall constructed half a block from the main building were underfunded, leading close, cramped, uncomfortable buildings. However, the two wings connecting them to Lewis's masterwork provided the first new faculty and administrative offices of modern times, along with a bright, inviting student lounge. Fordham's era also saw the first fairly successful attempt to revamp the main building's systems. The library was also expanded, but at the expense of some of the building's interior architectural detail.

Again, lack of funding hindered the library's acquisitions, but Fordham, unlike some of his predecessors, worked actively to restore it. The results were uneven, but the quality of the librarians was greatly improved.

The end of Fordham's deanship coincided with an increase in student activism, both anti-Vietnam War and pro-minority, pro-women. Fordham and most of the faculty showed themselves remarkably responsive to student demands for input into curriculum and other decision making. Black students in particular began to lobby for greater presence and recognition and, for the most part, the School granted it. Fordham took an active stance on raising the number of women and minorities in the student body and hired the first woman faculty member.

By the time of Fordham's resignation, the School stood near the top nationally, judged on the basis of both faculty and students.

Expansion and unrest

However, the general sense of unrest at colleges nationally and the fracturing of the faculty over some of the more revolutionary changes -- a splintering held in check by Fordham's sense of balance -- brought on one of the most tumultuous periods in Penn Law's history.

In slightly over a decade, the School had four deans, once again, all faculty members: Bernard Wolfman; Louis Pollak, former dean of the Yale Law School, later a judge in federal court; James Freedman, later president of Dartmouth College; and Robert Mudheim, a foremost financial and corporate law scholar and later the General Counsel of Saloman Smith Barney. At the same time, the University in the early 1970s faced a financial situation so severe that it briefly considered dropping undergraduate education altogether.

Though Penn Law faced disruptions in the 1970s resulting from the social upheaval of the previous decade, it continued to move forward as a major player on the national scene. Law School graduate and professor Bernard Wolfman followed Fordham as dean in 1970. "There is no question that students must play an important role in most aspects of their education," he announced. "We have a good working relationship here at the Law School- there is no other law school I know of with so little friction."

Experimentation in the curriculum increased, including eight-week mini-courses and increasing emphasis on small-group work and on writing. The School's involvement in social issues continued with the 1972 establishment of the Prison Research Council. The following year the clinical program came under a single coordinator and new clinical courses were added.

Among the new faculty, criminologist Marvin Wolfgang, a member of the Penn sociology department, accepted dual appointment at the Law School; Judge A. Leon Higginbotham began his long association as a lecturer in 1974; and the School added one of its most storied scholars when Clyde Summers, an expert in labor law and comparative law, came from Yale.

Wolfman's successor, Louis Pollak, had come to Penn the previous year from Yale Law where he had served 15 years on the faculty, five as dean. Though applications and legal employment were dropping nationally, at Penn Law placements remained level and applications rose. Pollak's term saw the election to the faculty of the first African- American male member, Ralph Smith, in 1975.

Among bright spots were the continuing expansion and strengthening of the curriculum and the increasing presence of women and African-Americans in the student body and on the faculty.

In 1979, the baton passed to Pollak's former student at Yale, James Freedman, who served only until 1982 when he was wooed away to become President of the University of Iowa. A new small business clinic was established and the Institute for Law and Economics (ILE) opened.

Then, with the elevation of Mundheim in 1982, Penn Law really moved forward. Mundheim’s seven-year tenure provided the School with administrative stability, and he stumped aggressively for funding for faculty salaries, financial aid, technology, and facilities. The student body continued to advance in the rankings, and women approached parity in numbers with men. Yet the faculty, though strengthened by several lasting additions, remained something of the revolving door it had become a few years earlier.

A native of Hamburg, Germany, Mundheim began a significant commitment to bringing visiting European scholars to the School. For the first time, Penn Law was becoming an international law school. The clinical program was strengthened to become perhaps the leading one in the nation in terms of both time spent by the students and breadth of community involvement.

With the planning of Tanenbaum Hall, the School undertook the most significant building program since Lewis's day. Opened in 1993, it provided major new classrooms, space for student journals, a dining area, and a modern home for the library in an airy, friendly setting. Perhaps most important, modern computer technology became a central consideration. By the end of Mundheim’s tenure, the most significant divisions within the faculty had healed, and Penn Law was in solid shape.

Mundheim was followed by Colin Diver, the dean of Boston University Law School and the first outsider to serve as Penn Law dean since Fordham. Under Diver, a superb fundraiser, the student body continued to represent the cream of the academic crop while growing steadily more diverse demographically. The faculty expanded at a rapid rate, most remarkably in legal theory and legal philosophy, culminating in the establishment of the Institute for Law and Philosophy in 1998.

A series of new academic concentrations took shape: joint teaching with other University schools, especially Wharton, dual-degree programs, and submatriculation. The number of courses increased enormously, clinical work continued to increase, and graduate studies were put on firmer footing, reaching out to foreign students in the LL.M. program.

Last but not least, Lewis's building became what it was envisioned to be in the first place. Through a series of restorations funded by major gifts, the renamed Silverman Hall was fully restored its original grandeur (including something approaching its original, strangely garish color scheme, influenced by archaeological finds) and enhanced with state-of-the-art technology.

In the summer of 2005 construction began on a full-scale renovation of the renamed Gittis hall. Re-opening in January of 2006, the four newly-renovated classrooms feature intimate horseshoes of desks surrounding a teaching position level with the first row of desks with superb acoustics. The renovation streamlined the audio-visual equipment, bringing the four classrooms the latest in technology.

Renaming Controversy

On November 8, 2019, the law school announced that its name would be changed to the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School following a donation of $125 million from the W. P. Carey Foundation. Many current and past students were surprised and upset by this change. The announcement was made with no advance warning to students, on a Friday in November, as final exams approach, when very few students were on campus.

Within hours of the announcement, the law school's website was redone with a new logo, new branding, and all references to Penn Law replaced with "Carey Law." Prior to the announcement, few law students had ever heard of the Carey family name.

On the day of the announcement, student government representatives were instructed to stop selling any apparel, gift items, or other merchandise featuring the Penn Law name or logo from the student-run merchandise store. A new style guide was issued that prohibited any use of "Penn Law." Instead, the short form "Carey Law" would be used.

Law students were concerned due to general lack of awareness of the new "Carey Law" name. For instance, students feared that their job prospects would be hurt by the change, particularly LLM students and those who are intending to work abroad where the name "Penn Law" is well known, but where "Carey Law" is not.

Students also felt that their voices have been ignored by the law school administration and university trustees. The lack of transparency and communication with alumni and students stuck a nerve, prompting frustration and outcry. Further, students felt that Penn Law did not need that money, and other local schools in Philadelphia had a much greater need for funding. Moreover, many agreed that the money could have been raised without a name change. Only a few years prior, through donations from alumni, the school was able to raise $200 million in one campaign from individual donations.

Within days of the announcement, over 500 students and alumni had signed a petition that called on the school to reverse its decision and change back to the original name.

Joint Degree Programs

Penn Law is well-known for its joint-degree programs. There are a wide variety of established programs, set up cooperatively with the Wharton School of Business, the Fels Institute of Government, the Medical School, and a number of other departments. For concurrent degrees, the time to earn both is generally reduced by one year. Undergraduate students at Penn also have the opportunity to commence coursework at Penn Law before graduation through the submatriculation program. In addition to the established programs, it is also possible to create an ad hoc joint degree program. The Levy Scholars Program, for which all applicants to the law school are considered, encourages students to explore joint degree options.

Some of the most common programs are:

  • J.D./M.Bioethics, Department of Medical Ethics in the School of Medicine
  • J.D./M.B.A. The Wharton School
  • J.D./M.C.P., City & Regional Planning, Penn Design
  • J.D./M.A./M.S. Criminology, Department of Criminology
  • J.D./M.S.Ed. Educational Policy or Higher Ed, Graduate School of Education
  • J.D./M.E.S. Institute for Environmental Studies
  • J.D./M.G.A., Fels Institute of Government
  • J.D./A.M. Islamic Studies, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
  • J.D./M.A. International Studies, The Lauder Institute (Wharton) and School of Arts & Sciences
  • J.D./M.A. Philosophy, Department of Philosophy
  • J.D./M.P.H., Graduate Program in Public Health Studies, School of Medicine
  • J.D./M.S.W., School of Social Policy and Practice
  • J.D./Ph.D. American Legal History, Department of History
  • J.D./Ph.D. Communication, Annenberg School for Communication
  • J.D./Ph.D. Economics, Department of Economics
  • J.D./Ph.D. Philosophy, Department of Philosophy
  • J.D./D.E.S.S., Global Business Law, Université Paris 1 Panthéon- Sorbonne Law School and the Institut d'Études Politiques (credits earned enable a graduate to apply for a French law license)
  • J.D./B.A., or B.S. Submatriculation programs with The Wharton School, the Nursing School, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania

Source: Joint Degree Programs

Scholarship Programs

Penn Law offers a number of scholarship programs to reduce the financial burden on students, encourage academically talented students to attend, and encourage students to explore different areas of study.

  • The aforementioned Levy Scholars Program, started in 2002 by Chair of the Penn Board of Overseers Paul Levy, offers a full-tuition scholarship for the first year, with half-tuition scholarships for the next two years. It also includes mentoring relationships with faculty, program support, and research opportunities. Cross-disciplinary studies are especially encouraged.
  • The James Wilson Scholarship, named for the Founding Father that became Penn's first professor of law, provides $60,000 in scholarship assistance over three years.
  • The Silverman-Rodin Scholars Program, established in 2004 by Penn Law alumnus Henry Silverman in honor of former Penn president Judith Rodin, provides a full-tuition scholarship for the first year, and half-tuition scholarship for the second year, and selects individuals for academic achievement and demonstration of leadership.
  • The Torys Scholarship provides $25,000 for the first year of study, endowed through the generosity of the law firm Torys LLP and selecting two students on the basis of academic achievement and interest in private sector law. The scholarship is also intended to foster a possible relationship between the selected students and Torys LLP.
  • The Public Interest Scholars Program full tuition for the first year and two-thirds tuition thereafter, and selects students on the basis of past public interest work and future interest in public service. This is the only scholarship program that requires a separate application.

Source: Penn Law Merit Scholarship Programs