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Tailored Counseling at Penn Law

September 11, 2018

Penn Law is renowned for its commitment to cross-disciplinary education. Many of the faculty hold degrees in disciplines other than the law, and the Law School is home to multiple innovative research centers and institutes that study the close connections between law and fields such as business and technology. In this environment, students are encouraged to learn about the business and economic realities that interact with law, and the psychological and sociological roots of core legal rules. 

The dedicated cross-disciplinary staff within the registrar’s office works with students to help them take advantage of Penn Law’s many opportunities to build connections between their legal studies and other areas of interest. Amanda S. Aronoff, Director of Cross-Disciplinary Programs and Academic Options and Sherita Ragins, Coordinator of Cross-Disciplinary Programs, sat down with Penn Law’s Office of Communications to discuss how they provide tailored counseling to students who are seeking a customized Penn Law experience. 

Penn Law: What makes Penn Law’s cross-disciplinary programming so strong?

AA: One of the many incredible things about coming to Penn Law is that you aren’t just coming to a top law school, you’re also coming to a larger University with top schools across many professions such as the Perelman Medical School, Engineering, Wharton and the School of Social Policy and Practice. 

SR: And these schools are all on one campus, so a student can take a Law class and then walk to, for example, their course in Bioethics at Perelman in a single afternoon.

PL: Do many students take classes at Penn Law’s sister schools?

SR: In last year’s graduating class, 77 percent of the graduating JD students took at least one non-law class while they matriculated at Penn Law. Penn Law allows all JD students to take up to four graduate-level, pre-approved non-law classes towards the JD.  These classes are often used toward a joint degree or a certificate of study at a sister school, or by students who just want to take graduate-level courses at one or more of our sister schools.

AA: This all goes back to the Penn Law philosophy that the next generation of lawyers will not only be superbly trained in law, but also trained in complementary fields.

PL: What types of support does the cross-disciplinary staff provide to JD students?

SR: We provide a wide-range of support services to students, from information sessions and cohort meetings to one-on-one advising about programming. We also help with the logistics of applying to joint degree and certificate programs and registering for non-law classes. 

AA: Sherita also organizes an annual Cross-Disciplinary Fair where we have over 20 sister schools and programs come to Penn Law to talk to JD students about the opportunities their schools offer. As for me, I meet one-on-one with students at different stages in their Law School career.  Some students know what they are interested in before they matriculate while other students’ cross-disciplinary interests evolve during their years at Penn Law as they are exposed to different academic and employment experiences. We also have Kathryn Deans-Schaub in the Office of Career Planning and Professionalism, who specializes in career advising for cross-disciplinary students pursuing joint degrees.