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State of the Law School Address

Dean Michael A. Fitts
Dean Michael A. Fitts emphasizes merits of Penn Law
Citing an exemplary faculty and a stellar interdisciplinary program, Dean Michael A. Fitts proclaimed during his annual state of the law school address that Penn Law is well-positioned to train tomorrow’s lawyers.

“It’s the best place in the U.S. to go to law school right now,” Fitts told an alumni gathering. Fitts referenced the new opportunities students have to build on their analytic training and prepare for disparate careers in business, government, health care, and technology.

Students have unprecedented options, he said, to cross campus and take courses at the Wharton School, Annenberg School for Communication, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and School of Medicine – all tops in their fields. And a good number are taking advantage of the opportunity. Twenty-nine students in this year’s graduating class alone (26 J.D.’s and 3 LL.M.’s) earned a Certificate of Study in Business and Public Policy from Wharton which gives them an edge practicing law in the global economy, Fitts said.

“The fact is, we’re living in a new world,” Fitts said. “It’s now the case that we’re going to see our graduates working across the globe.” To prepare students for international careers, Penn Law has begun an exchange program with Bucerius Law School in Germany. Recently, Penn Law agreed to establish a similar relationship with Waseda University’s Graduate School of Law in Japan, and plans to work with other schools.

Another reason Fitts is bullish on Penn Law is the excellent faculty – which continues to grow in size and quality. The school has added 15 professors in the last three years – a number that exceeds any other major law school.

As a result of the beefed-up curriculum and outstanding faculty, students are clamoring to attend Penn Law. Applications are up 50 percent in the last two years, Fitts said. And the quality of the applicants matches the excellence of the faculty. According to Fitts, the incoming class will have median LSAT scores of 169 – which places them above the 98th percentile nationally – and 3.7 grade point averages.

“My goal was to be dean of a law school that wouldn’t hire me, but I seem to have become dean of a law school that wouldn’t admit me,” Fitts joked.

Fitts said the competition to get in and the rigors of study at the school do not dampen the experience, as students appear quite satisfied with their education at Penn Law. He noted that the school ranked third in an American Lawyer magazine poll that queried students on whether they would return to their law schools if they had to do it over.

That’s not surprising, given the strong faculty, cross-disciplinary programs, warm atmosphere and improved physical plant at Penn Law, Fitts said, alluding to Silverman Hall’s renovation, the approaching 10th anniversary of Tanenbaum Hall, and the recently refurbished Roberts Hall, which contains additional office space to house faculty.

All of which, Fitts reemphasized, puts Penn Law at “the very top of law schools.”

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