Penn Law is one of the oldest, most prestigious, and most selective law schools in the US. Benjamin Franklin founded the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania in 1740, and Penn Law recognizes a series of law lectures that James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence and framer of the US Constitution, gave on the downtown streets of Philadelphia as the informal beginning of Penn Law. Fast forward to 1850, when Penn formally established a full-time law program, combining law lectures with clinical experience for students as the bedrock of Penn Law’s education. Penn Law also is credited with initiating the three-year curriculum that now serves as the modern template for nearly all US law schools.
Today, Penn Law maintains a perennial top ten law school ranking, justifiably asserting that it is “THE leader in cross-disciplinary legal education.” (Penn Law Website) The cross-disciplinary approach pervades Penn Law, with over 70% of its faculty holding an advanced, non-law degree and one-third holding dual appointments in other UPenn departments, and nearly 20% of Penn Law graduates earn a Certificate of Study in a non-legal discipline while attending the three-year JD program.
One of Penn Law’s main draws is its urban location in the West Philadelphia neighborhood. Long known as a rough part of town, UPenn has made significant efforts to embrace, integrate into, and improve neighborhood quality of life. Today, Penn Law students enjoy a beautiful, quadrangle campus with easy access to a vibrant restaurant scene and world-class museums, theatres, and libraries offering myriad arts, lectures, events, and shopping opportunities.