University of Pennsylvania Law School boasts an extraordinary cross-disciplinary program, a first-rate and easily-accessed faculty, a superb alumni network, and Ivy League status. Penn Law is located in Philadelphia and is a short train ride from both Washington, DC and New York City.

Consistently a top 10 ranked law school, most applicants do not realize that Penn Law’s alumni have the third-highest giving rate. Additionally, in a recent American Lawyer survey of summer associates who were asked if they would choose the same law school again, Penn ranked #3 in the country. Perhaps most importantly and most overlooked, however, is the law school’s small collaborative student body which most likely drives these aforementioned results.

Below is the 4-page transcript of our interview with Derek E. Meeker, Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid on June 30, 2004.

What new changes are occurring on campus and how is University of Pennsylvania Law School evolving?

University of Pennsylvania Law School continues to be at the forefront in providing a cross-disciplinary legal education to our students. The integration of law and other disciplines is pervasive at Penn: it is reflected in the backgrounds of our faculty, in the availability of joint degree and certificate programs, in the availability of elective coursework throughout the University, and in our clinical programs, institutes, and journals.

Students may matriculate in one of our 14 formal joint degree programs or seek approval to pursue any joint degree. Currently, we offer a Certificate in Business and Public Policy from the Wharton School (12 percent of the members of the Class of 2004 completed this Certificate program) and a Certificate in Women’s Studies. We will soon be adding a Certificate in Environmental Policy and a Certificate in Environmental Science. Students may also choose to take up to four of their JD electives in any other department at the University of Pennsylvania. In each semester, we have students studying throughout the University, taking courses in Economics, Engineering, History, Philosophy, studying not only at Wharton but also at the Annenberg School of Communication, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Social Work, and the Center for Bioethics.

Our faculty reflects our cross-disciplinary approach to legal education: 70 percent hold a PhD and/or Masters degree in addition to their JD and one third hold joint appointments with other departments in the University, further enriching their perspective in the classroom. Other examples of our pioneering cross-disciplinary program include our Institute for Law and Economics in conjunction with the Wharton School and the Department of Economics, our Institute for Law and Philosophy, and our Child Advocacy Clinic in which Penn Law students work with medical, nursing, and social work students.

Do you have final numbers or even good, early indications of how this year’s application volume may compare to the 2002-2003 season? How about the demographic make up of the applicant pool?

Applications to Penn Law for the 2003-2004 year increased by just one percent from the 2002-2003 season. As of this date, the fall 2004 incoming class includes students from 38 states, the District of Columbia, and seven foreign countries. Students of color represent 38 percent of the incoming class (up from 32 percent last year) and 47 percent are women (unchanged). The 25th/75th percentile LSAT for the incoming class is 166/171 and the 25th/75th percentile GPA is approximately 3.5/3.8; note, however, that we admitted students from a GPA range of 2.9 – 4.0 and from an LSAT range of 153 – 180.

What general advice would you like applicants considering Penn Law to know?

Because we receive many highly qualified applications and admit a small percentage, applicants should articulate how they will uniquely contribute to the Penn community and/or the legal profession based on their backgrounds, their experiences, and their interests. We are looking for more than a successful academic record and competitive LSAT score.

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