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Center on Professionalism readies students for their legal careers

September 18, 2017

Penn Law’s Center on Professionalism supports students as they prepare for careers as professionals in an evolving legal landscape. In this video feature, COP Director Jennifer Leonard L’04 discusses the center’s mission and programming.



Jennifer Leonard L’04: In the Center on Professionalism, we integrate and develop new programs that will allow our students to meet the evolving demands of the legal market that they will enter at graduation to ensure that they have the skills that today’s modern legal employers are looking for.

So, through a variety of co-curricular opportunities during their time here, students can learn about skills like project management, like business development, like technology savvy, like executive communications coaching. We want to make sure that when our employers are looking for skills, our graduates are ready to deliver those skills from day one.

All of our 1L students participate in our 1L Professionalism Cohort program, which is a program that we designed to be universally applicable, so no matter what kind of law our students intend to pursue when they graduate, this program will help them become a more well-rounded practitioner. And we meet with them four times during the year and address a developmentally appropriate topic of professional development.

So, in September we have a daylong event called Professionalism Day where we introduce them to COP and some of the programs they can take advantage of during their time here. We meet with them again in November and talk with them about making their pitch as a professional as they prepare to apply for an interview for their first legal opportunities. In February, we talk with them about the importance of resiliency as they’re getting their first semester grades — and resiliency is a trait that they will call upon many times during the course of their careers — and we end the 1L year thinking about client service and action as they’re about to enter their first legal work opportunities. We want them to think about how to deliver superior client service, so we walk them through a series of hypothetical situations they might encounter in practice and ask them to think critically about how they would respond to those situations.

What we do is we provide them with the element that allows them to be a human lawyer. So, how will they interact with their clients on a human level? How will they understand emotional intelligence, leadership, management skills that will allow them to deliver the highest caliber of client service?