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Penn Law and the Wharton School launch first-of-its-kind management program for law students

March 04, 2013

Responding to the demands of a rapidly changing legal marketplace and widespread calls for law schools to equip students with practical skills they can use throughout their careers, the University of Pennsylvania Law School has enhanced its upper-level curriculum with the addition of a Wharton Certificate in Management that is available to its students.

The 12-week program is designed to equip students, regardless of career paths, with an essential set of management, leadership, and strategic decision-making skills, as well as financial and accounting literacy. It is expected to become a keystone course for upper-level Penn Law students, attracting a large enrollment. The first cohort will enroll in the fall 2013 semester.

The Certificate complements and strengthens the practical training Penn Law students receive as part of a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary legal education. The managerial and leadership skills taught in the course build upon Penn Law students’ extensive practice skills, honed in the Law School’s many clinics, externship programs, and through myriad pro bono service opportunities.

“Our new Wharton Certificate in Management reflects the Law School’s thinking about the future of legal education,” said Dean Michael A. Fitts. “We are committed to teaching our students not only how to think and the disciplines of other fields, but executive skills they can call on when they leave law school and throughout their careers.”

The Certificate in Management is available to students who complete the intensive semester-long course offered through Wharton.  Ninety-minute class sessions will meet twice a week. It is designed to increase the business skills and leadership capabilities of law students who aspire to lead key parts of a business, law firm, or non-profit organization.

“It is a privilege for the Wharton School to contribute to the education of our future lawyers,” said Wharton Dean Thomas S. Robertson.  “As educators we must think about the future of education, and in doing so we are fortunate to be able to  partner with our colleagues in the Law School to offer this innovative management program.”  

The course is divided into four modules: Finance and Accounting; Leadership and Organization Design; Strategic Decision Making and Leadership; and Competitive Advantage: Building a Strong Personal Brand.

  • Topics in the Finance and Accounting module include accounting terminology and process, financial decision-making, and analysis of financial reports and key performance indicators.
  • The Leadership and Organization module includes such topics as communication styles, leading with emotional intelligence, organizational influence and persuasion, leading teams, and understanding team dynamics.
  • strategic Decision-Making topics include critical thinking for real-world, real-time decisions, planning in times of uncertainty, decision making and leadership, and discovery driven planning.
  • The Competitive Advantage module focuses on building personal brands.

Upper-level courses at Penn Law, including this new addition to the curriculum, reflect how the law now intersects with a broad array of disciplines and how students’ careers will evolve over time. “Business savvy is a fundamental competency in virtually every area of legal practice today,” Fitts said. “We are providing our students with skills and knowledge that will allow them to be leaders in diverse fields.”

The new offering is part of the Law School’s holistic approach to professionalism training, overseen by its Center on Professionalism (COP).  “By making this course part of the curriculum, we are underscoring the importance of acquiring business knowledge, both to understand and interpret the concerns of business clients and to equip students with a set of transferable skills they can apply in diverse professional settings over the course of their careers,” said Heather Frattone, Penn Law Associate Dean for Career Planning and Professionalism. “The resources available through Wharton uniquely position Penn Law to offer unsurpassed training. Students who take the course will develop knowledge in core areas of business, including finance, marketing, management, and strategy, based on current research and best practice.”

“When I received my JD and MBA at Penn in 1984, these skills were acquired primarily by those of us pursuing careers in corporate law, and then only by enrolling at Wharton,” said Jodi Schwartz, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and one of the world’s leading tax attorneys. “Today every lawyer requires a basic fluency in finance and management, and Penn Law is in the vanguard of providing these skills to all students as a regular part of the law school curriculum.”