Students who choose to participate in one of the nine clinics offered by the Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School embrace the challenges and reap the rewards of serving real clients with real problems. Unlike at many schools, Penn Law clinic students serve as lead counsel on their own cases rather than merely supporting the work of faculty.
“The hallmark of the Penn clinical experience is that we put students front and center,” said Practice Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Clinical Education Praveen Kosuri. “Students own their cases. They have to establish the relationship with the client and do the fact gathering. We’re not spoon-feeding it to them. Just like in real life, they have to figure out what they need to figure out to serve the client.”
At the Law School, accomplished and dedicated faculty support students every step of the way in the following clinics:
- Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic: Practice Professor of Law Kara Finck guides students as they help vulnerable young people navigate the legal system using holistic advocacy aimed at ensuring that all clients are treated with dignity and respect.
- Transnational Legal Clinic: With Practice Professor of Law Sarah Paoletti as Director, students engage in the direct representation of clients and organizations in international human rights and immigration proceedings.
- Legislative Clinic: Taught by Practice Professor of Law Louis S. Rulli, students delve into the world of policymaking in Washington, D.C.
- Criminal Defense Clinic: Taught by experienced practicing attorneys at the Defender Association of Philadelphia (DAP), the clinic enables students to develop the resilience it takes to serve as a public defender.
- Civil Practice Clinic: Under the guidance of Adjunct Professor of Law Su Ming Yeh, Practice Professor of Law Louis Rulli, and Clinical Supervisor and Lecturer Jennifer Fernandez, students learn what it means to be truly responsible for others in legal processes where the basic necessities of clients’ lives are at stake.
- Entrepreneurship Clinic: Kosuri and Lecturer Michael Murphy supervise students who provide holistic advice to clients hoping to make a positive social impact through business.
- Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Clinic: Practice Professor of Law Cynthia Dahl leads students on the quest to find creative solutions for their creative clients.
- Mediation Clinic: Practice Professor Douglas Frenkel L’72, Adjunct Professor of Law Michele Goldfarb, and Lecturer in Law Sharon Eckstein L’86 guide students as they learn to exercise unbiased lawyering judgment while facilitating real mediation sessions.
- Appellate Advocacy Clinic: Through the Law School’s newest clinical offering, taught by Professor Jean Galbraith and Ilana Eisenstein L’04, students handled a range of cases in state and federal court, with a particular focus on issues of economic justice in the criminal law context.
In addition to these nine clinics, students may also pursue externships through the Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies’ Externship Program, which consists of more than 15 standing Gittis Externships. Students may also create their own ad hoc externships with government or nonprofit organizations of their choosing.
“What we teach across the board is problem-solving,” said Kosuri. “Maybe the best solution to a client’s problem is rooted in the law, but maybe it’s not — we want students to see the full range of possibilities and not just be confined to the narrow world of law. That’s just not how it works in real life.”
Read more about the Law School’s clinical offerings and externship opportunities.