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Spring 2010

Secret lives of Faculty

The Secret Lives of Faculty: From Boxing to Most Eligible Bachelor, What You Didn't Know About Your Penn Law Professors

Among Penn Law's faculty are leading scholars in every major area of legal study. But did you know that the faculty also includes a published poet, a practiced musician, and an avid distance cycler?

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Campaign Corner

Bold Ambitions Donations

The End of an Era: Farewell to Pepper Hall

Rendering of new building

From the beginning, Pepper Hall's space age design elicited strong reactions. People either loved or hated the building's pods, those oval ceiling recesses with fluorescent bulbs shielded by translucent saucers. But no one seemed bothered that the fixtures contained air conditioning vents, creating a blithely inefficient system that blew cold air at hot lights. It was the 1960s, and energy was cheap and plentiful.

Many years later, the pods still elicit strong reactions. But even those nostalgic for the mid-century modern design agree that the era of the pod – and of Pepper Hall itself – has passed. Energy is no longer cheap or seemingly endless. Fluorescent lighting no longer seems a good substitute for natural sunshine, nor re-circulated air for windows that open and let in the breeze. Room 100, the onetime home of student orientation and countless lectures and exams, is rarely booked, and only when the Law School's other classrooms aren't available.

So Pepper Hall, the workhorse building of the Law School for the past five decades, is to be torn down to make way for a new building replete with natural daylight, functional windows, and new square footage on the same historic footprint. The new building will complete the final stage in a 10-year transformation of the Penn Law campus.

Beginning this summer, watch the construction progress on a live video feed and follow our blog at the Law School's Sansom Street Project webpage.

University of Pennsylvania Venture Association (UPVA)

Formed by Penn Law students who saw a need for an umbrella entrepreneurship organization, UPVA is the first venture community available to all current and former members of the Penn community. The group seeks to foster a stronger entrepreneurial environment by connecting interested students, staff and alumni through a variety of hosted events. Over 80 people attended their recent Demo Day in Philadelphia featuring five start-ups ranging from web apps to biotech. To learn more contact


Alumni Awards

Alumni Clubs

The Law Alumni Society Alumni Awards will be presented at the Awards Ceremony and Reception on October 26, 2010. Last year's awardees included the youngest person to serve on the Delaware Supreme Court when he was named to the bench in 1986, an alumnus named the 25th most powerful person in Philadelphia in 2000, and a representative for at-risk children and an advocate within the juvenile justice facilities and the juvenile delinquency system.

Please be a part of this integral process and send your nominations (with biographical information and your reason for nominating this alumnus) by June 30, 2010 by filling out the survey here (awards listed on survey).

Alumni Weekend

Alumni Weekend

Under the beatific gaze of Ben Franklin, Penn Law alumni enjoyed cocktails, dinner and live music by City Rhythm as they celebrated reunions in elegant style at the Franklin Institute on May 15. Construction on the new Sansom Street project may have caused a change in venue, but deep pride in the law school remained constant.

On Friday, May 14, the 3rd annual Senior Partners Luncheon drew 75 distinguished members from the Classes of 1959 and earlier. Many participated in the new Oral History project and recorded video interviews which will be posted on the Penn Law website. Later that afternoon, two CLE panel discussions, featuring the timely topics of Health Care Reform and The Aftermath of Citizens United were led by current members of the Penn Law faculty.

Following the State of the Law School Address by Dean Fitts, the Class of 1960 met in The Clock to celebrate their 50th reunion, while other returning alumni gathered in Biddle Library for cocktails. Always a crowd favorite, the Reunion Picnic on Saturday afternoon featured barbecue, music and mingling, while future members of the Class of 2035 had their faces painted or were pushed in strollers around the courtyard. The weather cooperated in making the entire weekend delightful and one of the best attended Reunion weekends in recent years with over 875 participants.

New & Improved Law Alumni Society: A Message from President Rick D'Avino W '77, L '80

The "new and improved" Law Alumni Society (LAS) is now in full swing and at your service. At its winter and spring meetings, the Board of Managers set the stage by eliminating the annual dues requirement, enlarging the Board of Managers and electing many new Managers. As a result, all 12,000+ University of Pennsylvania Law School alumni, J.D.'s and L.L.M.'s, are now, for the first time, full members of the Law Alumni Society. With its focus on service to the Law School through committees on (1) Career Planning and Professionalism, (2) Public Interest and Public Service, (3) Student Life and (4) Post-Acceptance Admissions, and serving as active representatives of all alumni (through suggestions on how the Law School can best serve its graduates), the Board of Managers is a terrific way to engage in service on behalf of the Law School and to ensure that Penn Law does everything it can to help you succeed. All alumni should feel free to contact any member of the Board of Managers; Nancy Rasmussen (, Associate Director of Alumni Relations; or Rick D'Avino (, the President of the Law Alumni Society, to discuss any item of interest.

Alumni Clubs/Events

Alumni Clubs
South Florida alumni visit with Professor Doug Frenkel at the South Florida Club’s March Mediation Discussion/CLE and Reception

Adding West to East

We've added two new clubs, Colorado and Northern California, to the Penn Law Alumni Club community (now at 25 U.S., international and affinity groups); see them all here.

Watch for a Northern New Jersey group (with a Meet & Greet in June) along with possible clubs from Long Island and Atlanta. For more information on alumni clubs, contact Nancy Rasmussen at

For upcoming club events ranging from the Southern California Alumni Club's June Evening of Wine Tasting to the Brazil Club's Reception with Dean Michael Fitts, check out the events page.

More on alumni »


Faculty News

President Obama selects Anita Allen for a key bioethics post.

Penn Law students help win a Supreme Court case.

Penn Law faculty dominate the list of top corporate scholarship for 2009.

Judge Michael Boudin speaks on "Judge Henry Friendly and the Craft of Deciding Cases" at the annual Roberts Lecture (video link).

David Skeel writes a Wall Street Journal op-ed advocating for financial reform of the complex derivatives market.

The Penn Law Review hosts online debates on pressing topics from health care reform to the Bush administration's torture memos.

Distilling Justice Stevens's Legacy

Justice John Paul Stevens

Members of the Penn Law faculty recently gathered at the National Constitution Center to assess the record of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. On this tape, they discuss his independence and his conversion from conservative appointee to "one of the most reliably liberal justices" on the court. More

Alumni and 3Ls Celebrate their Graduation

For the second year in a row, the Alumni Relations office sponsored a celebration for the graduating class. This year, over 150 members of the Class of 2010 and members of the Law Alumni Society enjoyed food and drink on April 6 at the Law School.

Dean Michael Fitts delivered the inaugural Charge to the Class in what promises to be a new Penn Law tradition. Our Law Alumni Society Board President, Rick D'Avino, W '77, L '80, extended a warm welcome to the class.

Congratulations Class of 2010!

As much as students enjoyed the Dean’s Charge to the Class, there is one thing even he could not do at that point: confer a degree. The presentation of diplomas came more than a month later during the commencement ceremony at the glorious Academy of Music, whose setting once again played a leading role in producing a memorable occasion. Photo courtesy of Barney Leonard

As much as students enjoyed the Dean’s Charge to the Class, there is one thing even he could not do at that point: confer a degree. The presentation of diplomas came more than a month later during the commencement ceremony at the glorious Academy of Music, whose setting once again played a leading role in producing a memorable occasion.
(Photo courtesy of Barney Leonard)

Public Interest Students Thrive at Penn Law

Increased Funding for Summer Positions

Penn Law has substantially expanded its financial support for students who engage in summer public interest work, including government internships, policy advocacy, direct representation of indigent and underserved clients, and work with criminal tribunals and non-governmental organizations around the world. The increased funding means that all Penn Law students who applied for internal funding for public interest internships will receive support from the Law School. More

Penn Law Graduates Awarded Fellowships & Enter Honors Programs

University of Pennsylvania Law School graduates will join the cadre of leading public interest and government attorneys this fall as they embark on fellowship, scholarship and honors program opportunities throughout the U.S. and abroad. They will include five Department of Justice Honors Program attorneys, two Equal Justice Works Fellows, a Gates Cambridge Scholar, an Independence Fellow and a Skadden Fellow. In addition, several Penn Law graduates will be selected for public interest fellowships that the Law School itself has developed.

"For new lawyers, these fellowship and honors program opportunities provide unparalleled entry into the world of public interest and government lawyering," said Penn Law Dean Michael A. Fitts. "Our students' success in obtaining these highly selective positions speaks not only to their remarkable talent and potential, but also to their deep dedication to increasing access to justice and using the law to improve people's lives." More