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Four families compare notes on their education at Penn Law. All enjoy the rich heritage and intellectual rewards, even though it's safe to say, "This is not your father's or mother's law school.".


by Derek Davis

Rachel and Bob Toll When Robert Toll L’66 attended law school, for the most part he had to take prescribed courses his first two years. That seems like a course in ancient history to his daughter, Rachel L’03, who enjoys more choices and opportunities.

“You can pretty much design your own curriculum,” after the first year, says Rachel. “Last year I wanted to take as diverse a range as I could. This year I’m taking all corporate classes, except for my seminar. Penn Law provides a great opportunity to take classes that are really interesting.”

Bob says he struggled his first year but kept at it until he caught on. “I hardly understood anything … and was convinced that I was an idiot. But I did well in the courses; it turned out the whole purpose was to teach you that you really didn’t know what you were doing. Those who thought they knew were in a lot of trouble.”

Nearly forty years separate the Tolls’ days at Penn. Over that time, the school has changed to meet the temper of the times. Bob Toll went to Penn when the Vietnam War raged and students organized protests on campus. Today, there is less visible activism, yet Rachel has more outlets for expression. “There’s a group or club for any sort of interest, from the Older Students Club to the Yoga Club to the Feminist Working Group.”

Although the law school has evolved, some things never change. Bob remembers the camaraderie of mid-1960s’ campus life. “The first year we were in the dorms, which were pretty much monk cells,” says the elder Toll, Chairman and CEO of Toll Brothers, a national luxury home builder located outside Philadelphia. “You had interaction with everybody … The first-year academic pressure was intense, but we felt no competition – at least not the guys I hung around with.”

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