A Message from the Dean
Agents of Change
What I Did on My Summer Vacation
Education Without Borders
Manifest Destiny in the Middle East
The Brief
Faculty News & Publications
The Campaign for Penn Law
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
Case Closed
A Message from the Dean  

Michael A. Fitts  
MICHAEL A. FITTS
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law
 
To the Penn Law Community:
AT PENN LAW'S COMMENCEMENT a few years ago, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer addressed an issue which concerns him — and should concern all of us in the legal profession. He spoke with passion about the national decline in public service among lawyers, and lamented the unfortunate erosion of the traditional commitment to pro bono work.

As Breyer noted, the majority of young lawyers continue to pursue high paying jobs at big law firms out of economic necessity. Most graduates simply cannot afford to take jobs in the public or nonprofit sector. And that's a shame. But we can do something about it.

At Penn Law, we are trying to reverse the trend by encouraging more graduates and alumni to consider careers in public service. To accomplish that goal, we are using financial incentives in the new Jane and Bob Toll Public Interest Scholars Program as a recruitment tool.

Similarly, we are setting aside a good portion of the spring Penn Law Journal to celebrate the good work being done in the name of public service. In this issue, we tell the inspiring stories of alumni who fought for closed captioning on television; battled payday lenders who prey on poor people; decried human rights violations in America's juvenile justice system; and educated young offenders and high school students about their constitutional rights. We highlight students who traveled to the depths of Africa, to the steamy provinces of Latin America, and to the killing fields of Asia to do human rights work in the first year of the Summer International Human Rights Fellowship Program. And we document the early stages of the new Transnational Clinic, in which students are learning how to navigate the complex cross-border legal issues that they are soon to confront.

In that international vein, we also provide sneak previews of two fascinating projects under way in the Middle East, both led by Penn Law alumni. David Richter, Eng'87, W'87, L'92, president of Hill International, is participating in the construction of a chain of islands off the coast of Dubai unlike anything you've ever seen. Donald Millinger, L'79, meanwhile, is overseeing an ambitious effort to build a Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking of the Middle East, we include an account of our conference on Iraq, which drew two Iraqi ambassadors during a day-long dissertation on the fate of this embattled country. We also chronicle a month-long visit by a brilliant group of Arab women, who were here via the State Department to learn about the American legal system.

Finally, we report on a landmark achievement: the culmination of a two-decade quest to establish a civil rights chair in honor of Raymond Pace Alexander and Sadie Alexander, ED'18, GR'21, L'27, the first African-American woman to graduate from Penn Law School.

Like the other featured alumni, the Alexanders were avatars of public service, fighting for civil rights at a time when one did so at great peril. We are proud to include them in our public interest issue.