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Video feature: Jennifer Leonard discusses the Center of Professionalism

August 20, 2014

In this video feature, Jennifer Leonard L’04, Director of the Center of Professionalism and Associate Director for Professional Development, discusses how the Center on Professionalism provides training for Penn Law students to develop the skills that are crucial to a lawyer’s day-to-day practice. Through a yearlong slate of programs, COP helps train students in the professional skills they’ll need to be successful throughout their careers. 




My name is Jennifer Leonard. I am a 2004 graduate of Penn Law School and I’m currently the Director on the Center on Professionalism at Penn Law.

At the Center on Professionalism we design original programming, we also implement programming that already exists around the University and at the Law School, that help students practice the skills that they are required to have to be effective practitioner and to provide superior client service that we expect from Penn Law graduates.

So from the very beginning of a student’s time with us at Penn Law, we expose them to the importance of professional skill development, which starts during the 1L year. In September we have a Professionalism Day, which is dedicated entirely to highlighting and focusing on these areas and we develop a programming slate that is designed to develop as they develop as attorneys and offer them more and more advanced exposure to the things that will need in practice to provide excellent client service.

We offer a spanish language for the legal professional bootcamp, where students have an opportunity to practice the legal skills that they are learning everyday in a classroom, but in an environment in which the clients are predominantly spanish speaking. We also do brown bag language exchanges between our JD students and our LLM students, who are practitioners from other countries, so that they have the opportunity to practice, for example, french, spanish, mandarin, Japanese, and other languages with students that have already practiced in the countries where those languages are predominately spoken. We also offer tech programming to our students. Technology skills are becoming increasingly important in the legal environment as clients are looking more carefully at their bills and are demanding more and more efficiency from their legal professionals. So, we offer students the opportunity now to become more efficient by excelling in their technology programming and understanding how being more efficient with technology will allow them to be more cost effective as legal practitioners, which will endear them to their clients.

We also offer a program called Penn Law Practices Nuts & Bolts, which offers students the opportunity to interact with junior level attorneys who are in some of the practice areas that they may be considering as careers. So, for example, we offer a program in litigation and discovery, we offer a program in corporate, and we offer a program in criminal defense and prosecution. And these workshops give students an opportunity to practice the tasks that they will be asked to do in their very early days of practice as opposed to being first year in a trial. What does a first year attorney do in a litigation practice? And it gives them on opportunity to better understand the practice areas that they are exploring, so that they can explain to future employers why they are interested in these practice areas and so that they can explore on their own what practice areas make sense for their interests and skill sets. 

Transcript has been edited for length.