What is LawBrain?
It's a living legal community making laws accessible and interactive. Click Here to get Started »

University of Pennsylvania Law School

From lawbrain.com

The University of Pennsylvania Law School (Penn Law) is one of the oldest, most prestigious law schools in the country. Benjamin Franklin founded the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania in 1740.



The University of Pennsylvania Law School (Penn Law) is one of the oldest, most prestigious law schools in the country. Benjamin Franklin founded the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania in 1740. With a rich history since its founding, James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence and a Justice of our first Supreme Court, delivered the University’s first lectures in law in 1790. He presented his views on topics in law at a series of influential lectures to President George Washington and the members of his cabinet.

Unlike most law schools that remain isolated from their universities, Penn Law has followed the opposite path, nurturing relationships with as fine an array of law-related professional schools as you will find in the country. Students can easily enhance their first-rate legal education through study in many associated disciplines, either through matriculation in a joint degree program or by taking up to four courses in other departments.

Like other Ivy League law schools in the nation, admission to this prestigious law school is very selective and competitive. With over 6,000 applicants interviewed in 2010, only 252 enrolled. The median LSAT score is a 171 and the median undergraduate GPA is a 3.9 for the current incoming class. The incoming class is filled with incredibly accomplished, talented, and dedicated students coming from diverse background around the world. Attending this Ivy League law school doesn’t come cheap, with an average tuition per year being $48,362 for the J.D. (Jurist Doctorate) program.

Penn Law offers a wide range of professional degrees. The school awards the J.D., the first professional degree in law, as well as graduate degrees, including the Master of Laws (LL.M.), the Master of Comparative Laws (LL.C.M.), and the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.). The graduate students generally are international students who hold a law degree from outside the United States and who wish to become more familiar with aspects of American law and legal institutions. They are lawyers, bankers, judges, business professionals, and recent university graduates who add much to the Penn Law community. They take advanced classes with the J.D. students to further expand their legal expertise.

Penn Law is known to have produced excellent scholarly journals. Students can choose from journals such as the Penn Law Review, Journal of Business Law, Journal of Constitutional Law, Journal of International Law, and The Journal of Law and Social Change. The five journals have each been recognized nationally for their high level of scholarship, integrity, and value to the profession. In addition, students who become members on these journals find that it provides an invaluable experience both in substantive law and skills in research, analysis and expression.

Aside from the scholarly journals, the law school offers great insight to practical legal experience through its legal clinics. Law students experience the excitement and fulfillment that comes from building relationships with diverse clients, interacting with professionals from other disciplines, engaging in legal advocacy, and using their talent and creativity to make a real difference in the world. The school offers clinics in civil procedure, criminal defense, legislative clinic, and Supreme Court clinics, to name a few.


The Law School ranks #7 among the top law schools in the country according to the U.S. News World Report.

What They Are Saying

From most reports, Penn students lean to the left politically (not unlike those at most top law schools and Ivy League universities). Groups like the American Constitutional Society are prominent, and the campus is particularly tolerant on social issues. Students cite a vibrant LGBT community, and note that tolerance of students with diverse sexual orientations is nearly universal.


The University of Pennsylvania Hospital was sued in federal court for allegedly refusing to accept a patient because he lacked health insurance. The lawsuit on behalf of Marcus Murray, 56, and his wife, Jean, claims that Penn initially said it would accept a transfer of the man from Underwood Memorial Hospital in Gloucester County. Murray needed emergency surgery to treat a tear in a major artery. Penn had originally agreed to accept Murray, then refused after learning he had no health insurance, according to the complaint

Notable Professors

  • Anita L. Allen, deputy dean and expert on privacy law and contemporary ethics.
  • Tom Baker, deputy dean and insurance law scholar.
  • Howard F. Chang, scholar of the economic analysis of law.
  • Cary Coglianese, scholar of government regulation and regulatory policy.
  • Leo Katz, criminal law theorist.
  • Paul H. Robinson, expert on criminal code reform, criminal law.
  • Kermit Roosevelt, constitutional law scholar and novelist.
  • Michael Wachter, expert on corporate finance, and founder of the Institute for Law and Economics.
  • Christopher Yoo, authority on law and technology.

Notable Alumni

  • Josiah E. DuBois, Jr, U.S. State Department official, instrumental in Holocaust rescue.
  • Marshall Jordan Breger, Chairman, Administrative Conference of the United States.
  • Philip Werner Amram, Asst. Attorney General of the United States, 1939–42.
  • Thomas K. Finletter, U.S Secretary of the Air Force, 1950–1953.
  • William M. Meredith, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, 1849–50.
  • Robert J. Walker, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, 1840–45.
  • David Samson (New Jersey), Attorney General of New Jersey, 2002–03.
  • William F. Hyland, Attorney General of New Jersey, 1974–1978.



FindLaw AHK