Law School Welcomes Class of 2011 and Returning Students
August 13, 2008 — The Earle Mack School of Law marked the start of the new academic year with the arrival of new faculty, the completion of renovations to its building and an orientation program for incoming 1Ls that began in Philadelphia’s soaring National Constitution Center.
The eight-day orientation program features an immersion into the foundations of legal principles, an introduction to a wide range of professional and ethical issues that arise in the practice of law and a preliminary course in legal methods.
Dean Roger Dennis joined other administrators, faculty and staff in welcoming the 143 new students, whose ranks include an actor, the former CEO of a food-to-fuel energy corporation, a Red Cross recruit who spent the summer in Belize, a rock bassist who just concluded a national tour, an Army National Guard sergeant and Afghanistan war veteran, a molecular biologist and two brothers.
The new students wrestled with issues of diversity in the legal profession during a lively conversation about a hypothetical case in which an attorney who spent two years preparing for trial but was asked by her superiors to stand aside to avoid the risk that her religious background would alienate jurors.
Led by Senior Associate Dean Jennifer Rosato and Vernon Francis, a partner with Dechert LLP and former associate counsel in the office charged with investigating the Iran/Contra Affair, the conversation intrigued the new students and offered a foretaste of their coming associations with practicing attorneys.
“I’m usually opinionated,” Cincinnati, Ohio native Heather Rose said. “I’m surprised that I didn’t come to a decision. You do have to think about your client. You do have to think about the jury.”
Leann Wilcoxson of Macon, Ga. said it was good to debate such matters at the start of her legal training.
“These are very real issues,” she said. “These are issues we’re going to face when we’re practicing attorneys.”
The orientation program will also include a panel discussion with Earle Mack School of Law 2Ls and 3Ls on surviving and thriving as a 1L, a reception with “The Ivy Briefs” author Martha Kimes and an all-school picnic with faculty and staff.
The Earle Mack School of Law also welcomed five new full-time faculty members, whose expertise in diverse areas will enrich scholarship at the school. Adam Benforado is a Harvard Law School graduate whose scholarship infuses social psychology and related disciplines into law and legal theory. Amy Boss is an internationally known expert on electronic commerce and international trade who was also the first woman to chair the Business Law section of the American Bar Association. Richard Frankel joins us from Georgetown University Law Center’s excellent Appellate Litigation Program, where he was the supervising attorney. Anil Kalhan is an expert in immigration and constitutional issues who took part in several of the most significant pieces of litigation to emerge in the post-9/11 era. And Donald Tibbs brings an uncommon commitment to scholarship at the intersection of civil rights, racial justice and criminal procedure. The addition of these professors, each of whom brings superb credentials and a distinguished record of scholarship, will allow us to expand our course offerings significantly.
Renovations to the law school building have significantly increased space available to students for meeting and study. A dramatic expansion of the law library stretches all the way to 33rd Street. The expanded library has a new name: the Legal Research Center, which highlights the significance of the scholarly activities it supports. For this year, we have nearly tripled the number of group study rooms and created additional office space for the Student Bar Association, Law Review and Moot Court. A new trial practice room and two medium-sized classrooms have been created in the law school. In addition, two classrooms in Matheson Hall have been fully renovated to meet our law-school standards, and they will accommodate many classes for 1Ls.
Experiential learning opportunities continue to increase, most notably with the launch of our new clinical program. The program starts this fall with three field clinics that have been developed in partnership with renowned government and public interest organizations in the Philadelphia legal community. These field clinics will allow students who obtain certification as legal interns to represent clients in court. A clinic developed in partnership with the Defender Association of Philadelphia will focus on criminal litigation. A second clinic, operating in conjunction with the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, will handle civil litigation. The third field clinic, which was launched in partnership with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, will provide opportunities to address cases that involve public health and environmental justice. Students who participate in the clinics will also be enrolled in the Justice Lawyering Seminar, in which they will develop a paper topic inspired and informed by their field work. In the spring, we plan to conduct a symposium or series of workshops in which students will present their seminar projects to the law school and to the larger public interest community in Philadelphia.
The Pro Bono program will offer several new opportunities to work with underrepresented residents of the Philadelphia area. The new pro bono opportunities include a bi-monthly estate planning clinic, where students will be trained in simple estate planning and will draft powers of attorneys, wills and advanced medical directives for patients at the 11th Street Family Health Services Center, a community education and outreach project of Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. The new pro bono options also include the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Philadelphia headquarters of the oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the U.S.
The new faculty, expanded programs and renovations, Dean Dennis said, will make the coming year at the law school an especially rich and rewarding experience.
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