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BRETTS LAUD SCHOOL’S DIVERSE AND EGALITARIAN CULTURE
by Robert Stewart
The Vietnam War was on Steve Brett’s mind when he arrived at Penn Law in 1963. By the time his daughter Claudia followed him there in 1990, her peers were protesting the fact that 200,000 American military forces were in Kuwait.
While influenced by different conflicts, their law school memories revolve around one mutual certainty: Penn Law was a profoundly worthwhile, important and enduring experience in their lives.
Stephen M. Brett L’66 remembers unloading his belongings during a downpour and wondering what he was doing here. In no time, he felt right at home. “Penn Law was a very comfortable place, the most intellectual experience I ever had.” He considered Columbia Law but chose Penn because its environment seemed “more comfortable, less dominated by an overly-competitive atmosphere.”
His strongest recollections as a 1L were being impressed with the quality of the people – students, faculty and administration. “Everyone was just solid, and the faculty was mostly young as well as very good.”
Claudia Brett Goldin was drawn to public service as a Harvard undergraduate and later as a VISTA volunteer before she joined Penn Law’s Class of 1993. “I had a great time my first year. I met a core of students who were also interested in public interest law. I also enjoyed being one of 100 students who shared the same four classes first semester and same three classes in the second semester, which provided unlimited opportunities for gossip, of course.” She also recalls appreciating her classmates’ diversity of ages, professional and personal interests, and ethnic backgrounds.
Claudia felt fortunate to receive a full scholarship as a Penn Public Interest Scholar. “The law school made an admirable effort to beef up its public interest program (in the late 1980s),” Claudia said. “They were really trying.” (Penn Law now boasts the finest Public Service Program in the country, having received the Pro Bono Publico Award from the American Bar Association.)
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