Earlier this semester, Penn Law held its annual dinner recognizing students involved in the Leo Model Foundation Government Service & Public Affairs Initiative through its internships, externships, and policy research seminars. The annual government and public affairs dinner also honored Allen Model L’80, chair of the Leo Model Foundation, for his generosity in supporting this distinctive law school Initiative.
The dinner featured keynote speaker Alison Kehner, Counsel to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, whose remarks focused on the responsibility to heed the call to government service.
Kehner, who previously taught at Penn Law and served in private practice as a litigator, shared what led her to make a transition into government service. She expressed her excitement about the future of government service and emphasized both the responsibility and the opportunity to make an impact.
“We’re all in an arena where real change can happen, where a good idea can touch the lives of millions of people,” she said.
She praised the Initiative for giving students a real taste of what it’s like to work in government, and shared her perspectives on the legal practice skills that set apart excellent public service lawyers. These skills include embracing the ethos of the public setting, taking initiative and ownership of projects, possessing excellent intellect and judgment, and understanding and anticipating others’ needs, she observed.
“People are thirsty for quality government, for balance, and for fairness,” Kehner said. “That’s where we all enter the picture. We have to heed the call.”
After Kehner spoke, Neta Borshansky, Associate Director of Public Sector Careers and Director of Government Programs, introduced four student speakers who discussed their experiences with various aspects of the Initiative.
Erik Lampmann L’20 discussed his work this summer as an intern on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee with Senator Dianne Feinstein. Khary Anderson L’19 MSSP’19 spoke about a trip with Professor Sophia Lee’s policy research seminar to Washington, D.C. to visit the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and meet with staff at the Advancement Project.
Erin Quick L’19 discussed the impact of a public health policy seminar she took with Professor Eric Feldman, which included field visits to the Food and Drug Administration, among other sites. For Quick, who majored in biology before coming to law school, the seminar showed “the potential law school has for uniting science and policy.”
Frank Broomell L’19 recalled his externship in the National Security Division at the Department of Justice, noting that his externship through the Initiative offered him an avenue to pursue public service while still in school. He also gained real-world experience with trade policy issues through working in close concert with attorneys across several branches of the government.
The evening also featured remarks by Cary Coglianese, the faculty chair of the Initiative and the Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, as well as Director of the Penn Program on Regulation. Coglianese placed the discussion of government service into the context of the recently-held U.S. midterm elections, in which five Penn Law alumni were elected to positions of public service. He emphasized how Penn Law’s rigorous cross-disciplinary curriculum helps to prepare lawyers to become leaders in government service in a changing and challenging world.
Coglianese also offered thanks to Allen Model and the Leo Model Foundation for having made it possible for Penn Law to expand its programming in this important area.
“What we’ve been able to do through this Initiative, and through the Model Foundation’s support, is to bring the world of policy to Penn Law, and to bring Penn Law students out into the world of policy,” said Coglianese.
In closing the evening, Allen Model delivered inspiring remarks, commenting on the recent election and noting how he had been “profoundly moved by the number of young people and diverse people participating in the election.”
“You all are a further representation of that,” he said to the assembled students and alumni.
Model impressed upon students the importance of getting involved in government in some capacity during their careers. It is “vital that we restore our belief in government,” he said. “I am thrilled you all are involved in that process.”