Good Penn LOCI—After a Visit

When I exited Golkin Hall after my recent visit to Penn Law, I was overcome with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I was happy that I had taken the day off from work to tour campus and learn more about the school. On the other hand, I was pensive. The visit left little doubt that Penn Law was the perfect place for my interests and ambitions, and throughout the long ride home, I kept thinking about what a missed opportunity it would be if I weren’t able to attend.

As I mentioned in my “core strengths” essay, there are several reasons why I believe Penn Law stands out from the field: the cross-disciplinary approach that helps prepare students for their careers, the various clinics that focus on the practical side of the law, and the collegial atmosphere that permeates the school. The first two were easy to write about. I did lots of research on Penn Law, learning how the curriculum integrates many different disciplines to provide students with the best possible legal education, how students are given the opportunity to take business classes at Wharton, and how students get a practical education through a vast array of clinics.

It was the last part that was difficult to write about: the “collegial atmosphere.” From the moment I began researching schools, I heard that phrase over and over again. To be frank, it started to wear thin. Students from all different schools bragged about how their institution featured a collaborative, friendly environment. Were any schools not collegial? Which ones were actually unique?

After my recent visit, and having toured many different law schools across the country, I can say with confidence that Penn Law’s atmosphere is special. Just as I stepped into Tanenbaum Hall, I was approached by Sam Song, a current 2L, who offered to answer all my questions about Penn Law. When I asked him how he knew I was a visiting student, he replied, “We all know each other here, so when I saw you, I knew you were touring.” Those words resonated with me. I realized that because Penn Law is such a small school, it’s really just one big community. The 3Ls, 2Ls, and 1Ls socialize, study, and have a great time together. That’s not true at other schools I’ve visited. And despite Sam being really busy, he proceeded to sit down with me for over twenty minutes, addressing any and every question I had about the school. We exchanged numbers, and I left feeling like I had a new friend.

After walking through Tanenbaum Hall, I made my way up to the Biddle Law Library, watching students pouring over their casebooks and writing notes. This didn’t last long, though. Jessica Seliman, a 1L, noticed that I was visiting, and she interrupted her studies to describe what it was like attending Penn Law as a 1L. She also introduced me to two more 1L students—Tsvika Marx and David Levitt—and I heard their perspectives about the school. Jessica went out of her way for me—someone who wasn’t even enrolled—and it made a lasting impression. How, I wondered, does Penn Law manage to accept the friendliest, most helpful students?

As I was leaving, something else special happened. Spencer Dean, a current student, stopped to share his thoughts about Penn Law’s stellar employment numbers, the benefits of being a small school in a big city, and the clinical opportunities afforded there. He didn’t tell me until later that he was on his way to New Jersey to attend his grandfather’s funeral. I was stunned that he’d still gone out of his way to help a prospective law student. Amazing.

Sam, Jessica, Tsvika, David, and Spencer all showed me what Penn Law is really about: a tight-knit community where students genuinely care about one another. I believe I can contribute to that collegial atmosphere. For much of my life, I felt stymied by a homogenous religious culture, and from the moment I began college, I made a conscious effort to become an open-minded thinker and collaborative problem solver. In situations ranging from Model UN to my current position at Fantastic Four Inc., I’ve thought about my role in the team and done my best to support my peers. I hope I get a chance to do the same thing at Penn Law.

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