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by Jennifer Baldino Bonett

The Pratters Robert, Gene, and Paige Pratter agree about the architecture of their family: Active, boisterous, lots of joking and enjoying the company of one another. All educated at Penn Law, they also joust about things, and today it’s the architecture of their law school.

As the legal threesome stand on Silverman Hall’s terrazzo tiles one winter’s day, Gene L ’75 recalls the faculty lounge on the right. Always been on the left, insists her daughter Paige, a 3L. (For the record, they’re both right; it moved and is now on the left.) Robert L’69 is focused on the library, formerly in Silverman. And there were law school dorms? Paige is amazed.

Robert and Gene attended Penn Law at times when linoleum and the light pods (space-age lighting that hangs from the ceiling) were mod. It was also when tuition was $5,000 for Robert, $6,000 for Gene (now approximately $31,000 for Paige); students earning a JD/MBA were considered “exotic”; and attending Penn Law yielded little contact with the rest of the university. Robert went on to become senior vice president and general counsel for PMA Capital Corp. in Philadelphia, and is a member of the Institute for Law and Economics’ advisory board; Gene, an overseer from 1993-99, is a partner in and general counsel of Philadelphia-based Duane Morris. In the latter role, she oversees legal issues for the firm.

As active alumni, they saw changes at Penn Law, and they liked what they saw: A school growing more supportive of its students through orientation (“a successful beginning of the relationship between the student and the school,” says Robert); Parents and Partners Day; revitalized facilities; dedicated career planning; interdisciplinary opportunities with other schools at Penn; a stronger relationship with West Philadelphia; and a more well-rounded student experience with a richer curriculum and extracurricular activities.

Considering Penn Law “more of a community than many other law schools” and “a much more progressive institution than some of the others,” the Pratter parents were delighted when Paige chose their alma mater. “Of course it was nice to think of her being close by,” adds Gene.

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