University of Pennsylvania Law School

Coordinates: 39°57′14″N 75°11′32″W / 39.953938°N 75.192085°W / 39.953938; -75.192085
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University of Pennsylvania
Carey Law School
Penn Cary Law logo
Parent schoolUniversity of Pennsylvania
Established1850; 173 years ago (1850) (first "full professor of Law" appointed in 1792)[1][2][3]
School typePrivate law school
Parent endowment$20.7 billion (June 30, 2022)[4]
DeanSophia Z. Lee
Location3501 Sansom Street,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
39°57′14″N 75°11′32″W / 39.953938°N 75.192085°W / 39.953938; -75.192085
USNWR ranking4th (2023)[7]
Bar pass rate97% (2019)[8][9]
ABA profile"Penn Law Profile"

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School (also known as Penn Carey Law, formerly known as Penn Law) is the law school of the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[10] Penn Carey Law offers the degrees of Juris Doctor (J.D.), Master of Laws (LL.M.), Master of Comparative Laws (LL.C.M.), Master in Law (M.L.), and Doctor of the Science of Law (S.J.D.).

The entering class typically consists of approximately 250 students and admission is highly selective.[11] Penn Carey Law's 2020 weighted first-time bar passage rate was 98.5 percent.[9] For the class of 2024, 49 percent of students were women, 40 percent identified as persons of color, and 12 percent of students enrolled with an advanced degree.[11]

Among the school's alumni are a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, at least 76 judges of United States court system, nine state Supreme Court Justices, three supreme court justices of foreign countries, at least 46 members of United States Congress as well as nine Olympians, five of whom won thirteen medals, several founders of law firms, university presidents and deans, business entrepreneurs, leaders in the public sector, and government officials.


18th century[edit]

A 1974 portrait by Allyn Cox on display on the first floor of the U.S. House of Representatives wing of United States Capitol of the four primary framers of United States Constitution meeting in garden of Benjamin Franklin. Left to right: Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School traces its origins to a series of Lectures on Law delivered in 1790 through 1792 by James Wilson,[12] one of only six signers of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Wilson is credited with being one of the two primary authors (the other being James Madison) of the first draft of such a constitution[13] due to his membership on the Committee of Detail[14] established by the United States Constitutional Convention on July 24, 1787, to draft a text reflecting the agreements made by the Convention up to that point.[15]: page 264 

As a professor at the Law School at Penn, Wilson gave these lectures on law to President George Washington and Vice President John Adams and the rest of George Washington's cabinet, including Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.[16] Wilson was one of the original five U.S. Supreme Court associate justices nominated by George Washington and confirmed by the U.S. Senate via unanimous voice vote on September 26, 1789.[17][18] In 1792, Wilson was appointed as Penn's first full professor of law.[2][3]

19th century[edit]

George Sharswood, the third professor of law and first dean of the Law Department of the University of Pennsylvania and later Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, in 1861
William Draper Lewis was named dean of Penn Law in 1896 and founded the American Law Institute

In 1817, Penn trustees appointed Charles Willing Hare as the second professor of law. Hare taught for one year before becoming "afflicted with loss of reason."[19]

Penn began offering a full-time program in law in 1850, under the leadership of the third professor of law at the Law Department of the University of Pennsylvania, George Sharswood.[3] Sharswood was also named Dean of Penn's Law School in 1852 and served through 1867,[20] and was later appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1879 - 1882).

In 1852, Penn was the first law school in the nation to publish a law journal. Then called The American Law Register, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review is the nation's oldest law review and one of the most-cited law journals in the world.[21]

In 1881, Carrie Burnham Kilgore became the first woman admitted to, and, in 1883, to graduate from, Penn Law, and subsequently became first woman admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania.[22] In 1888, Aaron Albert Mossell became the first African-American man to earn a law degree from Penn.[23] Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Mossell's daughter, was awarded the Frances Sergeant Pepper fellowship in 1921 and subsequently became the first African-American to receive a PhD in economics in the United States, a degree she earned at the University of Pennsylvania.[24][25] In 1927, Alexander became the first African-American woman to graduate from Penn Law and in 1929, she became the first African-American woman to be admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania.[26]

William Draper Lewis was named dean of Penn Law in 1896.[24]

20th century[edit]

University of Pennsylvania students taking United States Navy examination for commission in McKean Hall at Penn Law in June 1918
U.S. Navy men taking examination for commission grouped in front of Penn Law School main building in August 1918

In 1900, the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania approved his and others' request to move the Law School to the core of campus and to its current location at the intersection of 34th and Chestnut Streets.[27] Under Lewis' deanship, the Law School was one of the first schools to emphasize legal teaching by full-time professors instead of practitioners, a system that is still followed today.[27]

As legal education became more formalized, the school initiated a three-year curriculum and instituted stringent admissions requirements.

After 30 years with the Law School, Lewis founded the American Law Institute (ALI) in 1925, which was seated in the Law School and was chaired by Lewis himself. The ALI was later chaired by another Penn Law Dean, Herbert Funk Goodrich and Penn Law Professors George Wharton Pepper and Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr.

Except for the period of time during which the Law School's policy prohibited military recruiters from recruiting on the law school campus, when the military openly refused to hire gays, bisexuals and lesbians,[28] Penn Carey Law has actively supported the armed forces. The Harold Cramer Memorial Scholarship Program was established in June 2021 to ensure that all veterans admitted to the Law School will be able to afford to attend.[29]

In 1969, Martha Field became the first woman to join the faculty at the Law School at Penn; she is now a professor at Harvard Law School.[24] Other notable women who have been or are presently professors at Penn Carey Law include Lani Guinier, Elizabeth Warren, Anita L. Allen, and Dorothy Roberts.

From 1974 to 1978, the dean of the Law School was Louis Pollak, who later became a federal judge. Since Pollak ascended to the bench, Penn Law's deans have included James O. Freedman, former president of Dartmouth College, Colin Diver, former president of Reed College, and Michael Fitts, current president of Tulane University.

21st century[edit]

In November 2019, the Law School received a $125 million donation from the W.P. Carey Foundation, the largest single donation to any law school to date; the school was renamed University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, in honor of the foundation's first president, alumnus Francis J. Carey (1926–2014), who was the brother of William Polk Carey (1930 - 2012), founder of the W. P. Carey Inc. REIT, and of the charitable foundation.[30][31] The change was met by some controversy, and a petition to quash the abbreviated "Carey Law", in favor of the traditional "Penn Law", was circulated and it was agreed that the official short form name for the next few years could remain "Penn Law" and/or "Penn Carey Law".[32][33]

Osagie O. Imasogie, a 1985 graduate of Penn Law, is the current Chair of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Board of Overseers, having replaced Perry Golkin on January 1, 2021. Imasogie has been a member of Penn Law School Board of Overseers since 2006 and more recently a Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Imasogie, a graduate of two law schools in Nigeria and London School of Economics and Political Science, has held senior positions with a diverse group of professional services and bio-tech companies such as GSK, DuPont, Merck, Price Waterhouse, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis and is presently an adjunct professor at Penn Law, where he teaches a seminar on “Intellectual Property and National Economic Value Creation”. He is the first African-born chair of an American law school.[34]


Silverman Hall on the University of Pennsylvania Law School campus in West Philadelphia

The University of Pennsylvania campus covers over 269 acres (~1 km²) in a contiguous area of West Philadelphia's University City district. All of Penn's schools, including the law school, and most of its research institutes are located on this campus. Much of Penn's architecture was designed by the architecture firm of Cope & Stewardson, whose principal architects combined the Gothic architecture of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge with the local landscape to establish the Collegiate Gothic style.

The Law School consists of four interconnecting buildings around a central courtyard. At the east end of the courtyard is Silverman Hall, built in 1900, housing the Levy Conference Center, classrooms, faculty offices, the Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies, and administrative and student offices. Directly opposite is Tanenbaum Hall, home to the Biddle Law Library several law journals, administrative offices, and student spaces. The law library houses 1,053,824 volumes and volume equivalents making it the 4th-largest law library in the country.[35] Gittis Hall sits on the north side and has new classrooms (renovated in 2006) and new and expanded faculty offices. Opposite is Golkin Hall, which contains 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) and includes a state-of-the-art court room, 350-seat auditorium, seminar rooms, faculty and administrative offices, a two-story entry hall, and a roof-top garden.

A small row of restaurants and shops faces the law school on Sansom Street. Nearby are the Penn Bookstore, the Pottruck Center (a 115,000-square-foot (10,700 m2) multi-purpose sports activity area), the Institute of Contemporary Art, a performing arts center, and area shops.



For the J.D. class entering in the fall of 2022, 9.74 percent out of 6,816 applicants were offered admission, with 246 matriculating. The class boasted 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles of 166 and 173, respectively, with a median of 172.[11] The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.61 and 3.96, respectively, with a median of 3.90.[36][37] 13 percent of matriculating students identified as first-generation college students, and 35 percent identified as first-generation professional school students.

Over 1,250 students from 70 countries applied to Penn's LLM program for the fall of 2019. The incoming class consisted of 126 students from more than 30 countries.

The entering class typically consists of approximately 250 students, and admission is highly competitive.[11] Penn Law's July 2018 weighted first-time bar passage rate was 92.09%.[9] The law school is one of the "T14" law schools, that is, schools that have consistently ranked within the top 14 law schools since U.S. News & World Report began publishing rankings.[38] In the class entering in 2018, over half of students were women, over a third identified as persons of color, and 10% of students enrolled with an advanced degree.[11]

Based on student survey responses, ABA and NALP data; 99.6 percent of the Class of 2020 obtained full-time employment after graduation. The median salary for the Class of 2019 was $190,000, as 75.2 percent of students joined law firms and 11.6 percent obtained judicial clerkships.[39] The law school was ranked #2 of all law schools nationwide by the National Law Journal, for sending the highest percentage of 2019 graduates to join the 100 largest law firms in the U.S., constituting 58.4 percent.[40]

Multidisciplinary Focus[edit]

Throughout its modern history, Penn has been known for its strong focus on inter-disciplinary studies, a character that was shaped early on by Dean William Draper Lewis.[41] Its medium-size student body and the tight integration with the rest of Penn's schools (the "One University Policy")[42] have been instrumental in achieving that aim. More than 50 percent of the Law School's courses are interdisciplinary, and it offers more than 20 joint and dual degree programs, including a JD/MBA (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), a JD/PhD in Communication (Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania), and a JD/MD (Perelman School of Medicine).

Various certificate programs that can be completed within the three-year JD program, e.g. in Business and Public Policy, in conjunction with the Wharton School), in Cross-Sector Innovation with the School of Social Policy & Practice, in International Business and Law with the Themis Joint Certificate with ESADE Law School in Barcelona, Spain, and in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN).[43][44] 19 percent of the Class of 2007 earned a certificate.[45] 57 percent of the Class of 2020 and 52 percent of the Class of 2021 pursued a Certifiate.

Penn Law also offers joint degrees with international affiliates, such as Sciences Po (France), ESADE (Spain), and the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law. The School has further expanded its international programs with the addition of the International Internship Program, the International Summer Human Rights Program, and the Global Research Seminar, all under the umbrella of the Penn Law Global Initiative. Penn Law takes part in a number of international annual events, such as the Monroe E. Price Media Law Moot Court Competition at the University of Oxford[46] and the Waseda Transnational Program at the Waseda Law School in Tokyo.

Clinics and externships[edit]

For more than 40 years, students in Penn Law’s Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies have had the opportunity to learn valuable practical legal skills and put theory into practice while helping many clients in the community. The Law School offers in-house clinics, including: civil practice, criminal defense, the Detkin intellectual property and technology legal clinic, entrepreneurship, interdisciplinary child advocacy, legislative, mediation, and transnational. Students can also receive credit for completing externships with non-profit and government institutes such as the ACLU of Pennsylvania or the City of Philadelphia Law Department.

Toll Public Interest Center and related activities[edit]

Penn was the first national law school to establish a mandatory pro bono program, and the first law school to win the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award.[citation needed] The public interest center was founded in 1989 and was renamed the Toll Public Interest Center in 2006 in acknowledgement of a $10 million gift from Robert Toll (Executive Chairman of the Board of Toll Brothers) and Jane Toll. In 2011, the Tolls donated an additional $2.5 million. In October 2020, The Robert and Jane Toll Foundation announced that it was donating fifty million dollars ($50,000,000) to Penn Law, which is the largest gift in history to be devoted entirely to the training and support of public interest lawyers, and among the ten (10) largest gifts ever to a law school in the United States of America.[47] The gift expands the Toll Public Interest Scholars and Fellows Program by doubling the number of public interest graduates in the coming decade through a combination of full and partial tuition scholarships.[48] The Toll Public Interest Center has supported many students who have pursued public interest fellowships and work following graduation.

Students complete 70 hours of pro bono service as a condition of graduation. More than half of the Class of 2021 substantially exceeded the requirement. Students can create their own placements, or work through over 30 student-led organizations that focus their pro bono service in a variety of substantive areas.

The Law School awards Toll Public Interest Scholarships to accomplished public interest matriculants, and has a generous Public Interest Loan Repayment Program for graduates pursuing careers in public interest. Students interested in public interest work receive funding for summer positions through money from the student-run Equal Justice Foundation or via funding from Penn Law. Additionally, the Law School funds students interested in working internationally through the International Human Rights Fellowship.

Centers and Institutes[edit]

Penn Law hosts eleven different academic centers, institutes, programs, and research groups wherein students and faculty work together on interdisciplinary scholarship. Notable among them are the Penn Program on Regulation, directed by professor of law and political science Cary Coglianese; the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, directed by Faculty Director Paul Heaton. Other Centers and Institutes include: Center for Asian Law; Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition; Institute for Law and Economics; Institute for Law and Philosophy; Criminal Law Research Group; Legal History Consortium; Center for Tax Law and Policy; and Penn Program on Documentaries and the Law.

Biddle Law Library[edit]

Penn’s Law library holds over one million volumes, mostly consisting of American primary and secondary materials. Approximately one-third of the Library’s collection is composed of foreign, international, and comparative legal texts. The Library also holds subscriptions for digital resources such as LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law, which provide students and faculty with access to wide breadth of journal articles, treatises, and case texts.

Biddle is also home to archives from both the American Law Institute and the American College of Bankruptcy. Biddle also holds Penn Law’s own archival collection, which consists of manuscripts, rare books, oral histories, and certain Penn Law school records.


Students at the law school publish several legal journals.[49] The flagship publication is the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the oldest law review in the United States.[50] The University of Pennsylvania Law Review started in 1852 as the American Law Register, and was renamed to its current title in 1908.[24] It is one of the most frequently cited law journals in the world,[21] and one of the four journals that are responsible for The Bluebook, along with the Harvard, Yale, and Columbia law journals. Penn Law Review articles have captured seminal historical moments in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as the passage of the 19th Amendment; the lawlessness of the first and second World Wars; the rise of the civil rights movement; and the war in Vietnam.[51]

Other law journals include:

U.S. Supreme Court clerkships[edit]

Since 2000, Penn has had seven alumni serve as judicial clerks at the United States Supreme Court. This record gives Penn a ranking of 10th among all law schools for supplying such law clerks for the period 2000-2019.[59] Penn has placed 48 clerks at the U.S. Supreme Court in its history, ranked 11th among law schools; this group includes Curtis R. Reitz, who is the Algernon Sydney Biddle Professor of Law, Emeritus at Penn.


According to ABA and NALP data, 99.6 percent of the Class of 2020 obtained full-time employment after graduation. The median salary for the Class of 2019 was $190,000, as 75.2 percent of students joined law firms and 11.6 percent obtained a judicial clerkship.[39] Penn combines a strong tradition in public service with being one of the top feeders of law students to the most prestigious law firms.[60] Penn Law was the first top-ranked law school to establish a mandatory pro bono requirement, and the first law school to win American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award. Many students pursue public interest careers with the support of fellowship grants such as the Skadden Fellowship,[61] called by The Los Angeles Times "a legal Peace Corps."[62]

About 75 percent of each graduating class enters private practice, bringing with them the ethos of pro bono service. In 2020, the Law School placed more than 70 percent of its graduates into the United States' top law firms, maintaining Penn's rank as the number one law school in the nation for the percentage of students securing employment at these top law firms.[63][64] The Law School was ranked #4 of all law schools nationwide by in terms of sending the highest percentage of 2021 graduates to the largest 100 law firms in the U.S. (55 percent).

Based on student survey responses, ABA, and NALP data, 99.2% of the Class of 2018 obtained full-time employment after graduation, with a median salary of $180,000, as 76% of students joined law firms and 11% obtained judicial clerkships.[39] The law school was ranked # 2 of all law schools nationwide by the National Law Journal in terms of sending the highest percentage of 2018 graduates to the 100 largest law firms in the US (60%).[40]


The total cost of attendance (including tuition of $63,610, fees, and living expenses), for J.D. students for the 2020-2021 academic year was $94,052.[65]

Notable alumni[edit]


Supreme Court[edit]

Owen Roberts, a U.S. Supreme Court justice and University of Pennsylvania Law alumnus




Intermediate Appellate Court[edit]

Arlin Adams, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge and alumnus


Trial Court[edit]

Norma Levy Shapiro, a U.S. District Court justice and alumnus




Private practice[edit]



John Heisman, an 1892 alumnus of Penn's law school and rugby player, holding an elongated ellipsoidal rugby ball and using gestures resembling the iconic Heisman Pose in 1891[88]
George Washington Woodruff, an 1896 alumnus of Penn's law school and Pennsylvania Attorney General elected to the College Football Hall of Fame following Penn's national championships in 1894, 1895, and 1897
  • Irving Baxter (1876 - 1957) Penn Law Class of 1901 competed in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, France where he won three silver and two gold medals, winning both the high jump and pole vault competitions and placing second in the standing high jump, the standing triple jump, and the standing long jump; retired from competitive track and field without ever having lost a high jumping contest; admitted to the State Bar of New York, worked at the firm of Nash and Jones on Wall Street, appointed special judge for City of Utica, NY and U.S. Commissioner of the Northern District of New York[89]
  • Anita DeFrantz, 1976 Olympic bronze medalist in the women's eight-oared shell; first woman and first African-American to represent the United States on the International Olympic Committee (IOC); first female vice president of the IOC; two-time vice president of the International Rowing Federation
  • John Heisman, namesake of the Heisman Trophy, graduated from the law school in 1892[90]
  • Sarah Elizabeth Hughes, Class of 2018, (born 1985) a former competitive figure skater who is the 2002 Winter Olympics Gold Medalist Champion and the 2001 World bronze medalist in ladies' singles
  • George Washington Woodruff (February 22, 1864 – March 24, 1934) Penn Law Class of 1895, Coach of Penn Crew (1892 through 1896) and Penn Football (1896 through 1901); as football coach (who originated “guards back,” “delayed pass,” and “flying interference” tactics) he compiled 124-15-2 record, including three undefeated seasons in 1894, 1895 and 1897 earning him election to the College Football Hall of Fame and his teams being recognized as national champions in 1894, 1895, and 1897;[91] also served on number of government positions, chief law officer in the National Forest Service, Acting United States secretary of the interior under President Theodore Roosevelt, Pennsylvania Attorney General, federal judge for Territory of Hawaii[87][92]
Sarah Elizabeth Hughes, a 2018 alumnus[93][94] and 2002 Olympic gold winner and the 2001 world bronze medalist in ladies' single figure skating

Media and the arts[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

Anita L. Allen, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor of law and philosophy

The law school's faculty is selected to match its inter-disciplinary orientation. Seventy percent of the standing faculty hold advanced degrees beyond the JD, and more than a third hold secondary appointments in other departments at the university. The law school is well known for its corporate law group, with professors Jill Fisch and David Skeel being regularly included among the best corporate and securities law scholars in the country.[102] The School has also built a strong reputation for its law and economics group (professors Tom Baker, Jon Klick, and Natasha Sarin), its criminal law group (professors Stephanos Bibas, Leo Katz, Stephen J. Morse, Paul H. Robinson, and David Rudovsky) and its legal history group (professors Sally Gordon, Sophia Lee, Serena Mayeri, Karen Tani). Some notable Penn Law faculty members include:

The School's faculty is complemented by renowned international visitors in the frames of the Bok Visiting International Professors Program. Past and present Bok professors include Helena Alviar (Dean of Faculty of Law, University of the Andes), Pratap Bhanu Mehta (President of the Centre for Policy Research in India), Armin von Bogdandy (Director at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law), Radhika Coomaraswamy (Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Special Rapporteur for Children and Armed Conflict 2006-2012, Member of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar), Juan Guzmán Tapia (the first judge who prosecuted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet), Indira Jaising (Former Additional Solicitor General of India), Maina Kiai (UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association 2011-2017), Akua Kuenyehia (Former Judge of the International Criminal Court; Former Law Dean of University of Ghana), Pratap Bhanu Mehta (President of the Centre for Policy Research in India), and Michael Trebilcock (Distinguished University Professor at the University of Toronto).

Some of Penn's former faculty members have continued their careers at other institutions (e.g., Bruce Ackerman (now at Yale), Lani Guinier (now at Harvard), Michael H. Schill (now at Oregon), Myron T. Steele (now at Virginia), and Elizabeth Warren (at Harvard until her election to the United States Senate).


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