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ACROSS GENERATIONS, ED AND E. DENNIS FIND MELTING POT OF IDEAS (cont'd)
Being a member and later the president of the Black Law Students’ Association profoundly influenced Ed Dennis’ law school life and his legal career. “My class represented a quantum leap in the number of black students admitted to the law school, some 15 or 16 admitted in the first year class. We met for brown bag lunches and discussed the issues of the day, which usually included minority admissions and the responsibility of black lawyers to be professional resources to the African American community.”
In the early 1970s Penn Law’s dean was sensitive about the school’s efforts to increase minority enrollment. Ed tended to carry a large set of keys on a ring and “the dean would see me with these keys dangling and sternly say, ‘Dennis, do you have to wear those keys?’ We’d both laugh because we knew that anyone who didn’t know me would assume I was a black school janitor.” Some connections with faculty were particularly consequential. In his third year, Ed Dennis served as administrative assistant to U.S. District Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., while the judge was an adjunct professor. Ed Dennis clerked for Judge Higginbotham after graduation, and went on to spend 15 years at the U.S. Department of Justice. He eventually became assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, the nation’s highest ranking criminal prosecutor. He was also the U.S. Attorney for Philadelphia and is now retired from Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius.
Both men remember classmates leaning toward commercial and corporate law. “Many students wanted to specialize in a commercial practice, including myself,” reflects Ed Dennis. As for his son, “I primarily wanted to practice corporate law but I was also interested in the political process, so I took Election law and Administrative law,” comments E. “The stock market was booming. Popular classes included Venture Capital and Junk Bond Financing, and Securities Regulations.” E. thought Penn Law Dean Michael Fitts was outstanding at teaching administrative and election law. “I liked his easy manner, and his professional involvement in many of the cases we studied was a real kick. Criminal Law and Evidence with David Rudovsky was also great. He was a criminal defense attorney with tremendous real-world experience and hundreds of stories to tell us. You felt immersed in the subject.” E. finished a four year program in 2000 with a J.D. and an MBA from The Wharton School. He handled business development for a dot.com for two years, and now is a screenwriter in Hollywood.
Ed and E. Dennis are watching presidential history unfold again – this time in the recent war with Iraq.
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