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An Ethos of Service

February 20, 2023

Penn Carey Law has a long history of teaching students how to incorporate service into legal work.

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School cultivates an ethos of service that extends outside our walls via student and alumni impact around the world.

Our graduates demonstrate an unwavering commitment to service through pro bono work, impact litigation, and policy advocacy on today’s most urgent legal issues, from advancing economic justice and combatting wage theft to fighting for families and protecting reproductive rights.


Theodore Ruger, Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law: “We’ve been aware at Penn Carey Law for hundreds of years that law is deeply connected with the public interest.”

Louis S. Rulli, Director of Civil Practice Clinic & Legislative Clinic and Practice Professor of Law: “We were the first national law school in the country to mandate a pro bono requirement — to integrate public service into what lawyers do every day.”

Emily R. Sutcliffe, Executive Director of the Toll Public Interest Center: “The Toll Public Interest Center, which we all call affectionately TPIC, is really the Law School’s hub of public interest and pro bono. We’re home to the Law School’s pro bono requirement, and also we are home to all of the Tolls’ public interest programs.”

Karen M. Tani L’07, PhD’11, Seaman Family University Professor: “I think that all of our students — even if they’re headed towards corporate law and they’ve always known that — I think they understand the importance of giving back something to the community. So I really think it’s kind of been part of the fabric of the place.”

Devontae Torriente L’24: “I think Penn Carey Law is setting us up really well to practice, given its focus on pro bono opportunities, the clinical offerings, and being involved in the legal community outside of the classroom and outside of just being a student who’s learning the academic and doctrinal concepts.”

Lydia Anglin L’23, WG’23: “Pro bono is encouraged regardless of what track you’re taking. I’m very, very passionate at doing things impact the local Philadelphia community, and so it’s really important for me to help those who look like me and who are from the city.”

Sara Lynch L’18: “Most of the pro bono projects I was involved in were right here in Philadelphia, and we would work within the Law School. But I’ve also gone with a pro bono project to India, and we worked with human rights advocates and lawyers in India.”

Nathan Felton L’22: “I did almost all 70 hours preparing clemency applications for people here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was one of the most important parts of my law school experience, and I think most people feel that way about their pro bono hours.”

Kara R. Finck: Director of Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic and Practice Professor of Law: “So one of the ways that students are able to learn here at the Law School is through the clinical programs, and the clinics really allow students to take all of the theory that they’ve learned in their first-year law classes and apply it in practice. And so they’re the frontline attorneys for clients.”

Asal Yunusov L’21: “Going into the clinic, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was the most fulfilling experience that I’ve had in the Law School.”

Finck: “What students understand at the end of those experiences is not only how transformational the role of the lawyer can be in these particular clients’ lives, but how to really partner with their clients and the community and other organizations as well to really enhance services for the community at large.”

Ruger: “The students’ interests when they come in there are more than ever motivated to effectuate change both during and after law school. And for a lot of them, that means going right into government and public service work. They’re serving clients, they’re training other lawyers, and it’s really exciting to look to the future.”

Learn more about Penn Carey Law’s unwavering commitment to public service.