Penn Law Community:
|MICHAEL A. FITTS
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law
EVERY YEAR it becomes more apparent that this
law school is a departure point for a myriad of career opportunities.
It is as if we are a liberal arts college in professional garb.
Penn Law alumni may start in traditional law practice, but they end up
in an incredible range of interesting and challenging jobs. You run multinational
companies, head health care institutions, advise government officials,
forge market-changing mergers, develop real estate, and so on.
But one profession that may not immediately spring to mind is communications
— to be more specific, television. Law school is wonderful preparation
for operating a network or presenting the news. In law school, students
learn to articulate their views and develop business acumen (particularly
so at Penn Law, where one third of last year's class earned a certificate
I make these points as prelude to our cover story, which features six
alumni who followed their muse into television. This diverse group includes
Van Toffler L'83, president of MTV; Henry Schleiff, C'70, L'73, chairman
and chief executive officer of Court TV; Mark Haines L'89, host of CNBC's
"Squawk Box"; Renee Chenault-Fattah L' 82, anchor at WCAU-TV
in Philadelphia; Henry Hoberman C'82, L'85, ABC's lead litigator; and
Matthew Apfel L'90, who develops reality television shows.
Roger Adelman, on the other hand, has no interest in appearing on television
— though he has had plenty of opportunities. Twenty-four years ago,
we all watched in horror the televised images of President Reagan being
Roger participated in that saga. He prosecuted John Hinckley in a case
that stretched over a year. During that time, Roger resisted the impulse
to become a talking head, preferring to concentrate on his work. A quaint
notion in this age of round-the-clock television coverage and celebrity
culture. In this issue, Roger recounts how he found himself squarely in
the cross-hairs of an era-defining story.
Speaking of big stories, by the time you read this John Roberts will likely
be confirmed to the Supreme Court, and will have taken his place on the
Court as the new Chief Justice. He will do so just in time for this year's
opening session — in which case he will have to quickly hire clerks,
the backbone of any judicial office.
I clerked for Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. of the Third Circuit Court
of Appeals. It was a formative experience, nourishing in every way. I
highly recommend it.
From that perspective, I am delighted that Penn Law (see story on page
28) is devoting so much attention and resources to encouraging more students
to further their educations in what literally is a once-in-a-lifetime
This, too, is
wonderful career preparation, no matter which path you pursue.