Public Service Ethos: Arlene Rivera Finkelstein
BOLD AMBITIONS advanced the practice of public interest law at Penn, in Philadelphia, and across the globe. Every Penn student is empowered to pursue a career in public service, and all students experience the benefits of learning to lawyer through service.
It is a privilege to direct the Toll Public Interest Center at Penn Law School, where the commitment to service is a deeply rooted tradition and an integral part of student life. For more than 100 years, Penn Law has embraced service as a professional responsibility and for more than two decades it has been a requisite component of the exceptional legal education Penn Law offers. The Center that has evolved from this commitment to service represents the best of Penn Law. A center that empowers students to engage in pro bono legal service that is impactful and wide-ranging, resulting in a diverse array of pro bono projects that are creative and collaborative in achieving access to justice. Thanks to the extraordinary support that we have received along the way, from our faculty, from our Dean, from our alumni, from the Tolls as well as other generous donors, we have been able to fuel the ideas and ambitions of our students with the institutional resources and expertise that have enabled them to thrive.
Through its commitment to service, Penn Law has opened the door to a world where students can first hand see that they can make a difference in their communities, while developing their legal skills. Whether its connecting a homeless man in West Philadelphia to life saving resources, contributing to complex litigation to defeat police practices that violate civil rights, or developing a guide for advocates in India to represent victims of domestic violence. Penn Law students find ways to connect their ideals to action through service. They work with people, and organizations, they become stronger communicators, more effective leaders, and more creative problem solvers. With almost 90% of the graduating class exceeding the pro bono requirement, Penn Law students no longer serve because they have to, they serve because they want to. It’s what we do. And we do it proudly, impactfully, and expansively. Thanks to the commitment of our institution and to the support of our donors.
Transcript edited for length.