For those who would like it, here are my thoughts of the ASW this weekend!
I will again premise these comments by noting that I am on general a positive person, and tend to see things in a positive light. There has yet to be a law school visit that I have not enjoyed. Worth noting is that this will be a combination of summary and reflection on the experience Also, I apologize in advance for any typographical errors, I am writing this on my iPhone (ironically enough) on a flight to Philly. Before beginning, it is also worth noting that I have never been to Philly or Penn before, and that my finances were I to attend Penn would be advantageous.
I arrived late on Thursday night, so I didn't get a chance to make it to the TLS meet-up that day. The day started early on Friday, and I happened to find myself at a breakfast table of TLSers. To be honest, Friday was a blur. We essentially went 9am til midnight, so I can't exactly remember what happened in what order.
There were a variety of panels and presentations throughout the day. The clinic panel seemed to be pretty standard, as did the career services panel. Keep in mind, "standard" in this context means compared to peer schools I have visited (Michigan, Chicago, Duke). They do have some regional interview rounds before the formal OCI in Philly, which sounds awesome for those not interested in the biggest legal markets. Although, it was interesting when the career services officer didn't answer a question about OCI placement rate. She explained that some students only interview with one government agency at there, so the figure wouldn't be representative. However, she did note that "even though she hasn't looked at it" (or something like that), it was better this year than last year. To be honest, this lack of disclosure was a bit discomforting. To address her first point, it would be relatively easy to calculate the number for only those who interviewed at more than 3 offices, eliminating any disadvantage of people only interviewing at one place. The student on the panel was confident that people did "excellent" and no one during the weekend seemed stressed about jobs, so I am hardly concerned about job prospects at Penn (I am sure they do quite well!)....if someone at a later ASW wants to inquire about this, I would be interested to hear the figure just for the heck of it.
The cross-disciplinary presentation stood out the most to me. For me, this is really exciting about law school in general, as I have a relatively interdisciplinary undergrad major, and have really enjoyed it. Penn noted that it has excellent other graduate schools in which to take courses, and while this is true, I think that it is inaccurate to say that Penn is the only T14 to have great other grad programs. That said, they do seem to encourage students to take courses (up to 4 total, in comparison to duke's 2). They also have a ton of joint degree programs, which while they don't interest me personally, I think it would contribute very much to a more well-rounded group of classmates in law school classes, and these opportunities definitely contribute to that. The Wharton certificate seems to be a big hit with the students (3 classes, Wharton brand on the resume).
During the day, we took a tour of the law school. It is interesting in that a big portion of it is old/ivy style and a big portion is modern. Lots of people uploaded pictures, so I don't think I need to add any to illustrate it. It was a bit hard to judge the facilities as a whole, as about a quarter of it is still under construction, and should be done for second semester of next year. Something that I really liked was their style of mixing classrooms/offices/administration-apparently it makes for a good mixing of all parts of the law school. This was similar to how UChicago places prof offices in the library so it is almost impossible not to interact with faculty. The library was nice, with a good mix of study spaces, but nothing out of the ordinary.
For me, the most valuable part of visiting schools has been spending time with the students/faculty/admits. There were plenty of opportunities for this on Friday (and Saturday too). Lunch with the faculty was great, as it was really easy to connect with the faculty member at our table. It is clear that the faculty feel a close connection to the students and are really supportive of what they do. The students there were awesome as well, especially Rachel, the head of the post-acceptance committee. Though I think she was in charge of a lot of the weekend, she always found time to talk to us when we had questions. The formal events ended with a cocktail reception, which was really fun! Dinner with students followed, then a bar night. Throughout all these, the students were very candid and helpful in answering any questions about Penn. Their motto seemed to be "work hard, play hard" and it definitely was evident in everyone's attitude.
The other admits were awesome as well, I was super impressed by everyone's comments in the mock class on the really dense civpro reading (though it is worth noting that one kid did pass when called on).
Saturday was definitely more laid-back, beginning with a trolley tour and some more panels. Cheesesteaks were served for lunch, with more opportunities to meet with current students. The clerkship panel in the afternoon was excellent-it removed any doubt in mind that I'd like to pursue a clerkship at some point. Two of the students were EICs of the law review (one of them will be clerking for Roberts) and they other two were on law review, so I'm not sure what the clerkship prospects looks like for those not on LR (they mentioned high grades as a necessary condition, so I'd imagine not great).
On Saturday we also took a tour of the campus, which was fun. It is definitely more urban than I expected, but I suppose I am coming from a college town where there isn't a "bad" part of town. I felt the "ivy-ness" when walking down the main locust walk. I can imagine the campus is incredibly pretty once some leaves show up on the trees.
All in all, it was an awesome weekend. The people were great, and the vibe was what I am looking for. I feel like I got to know Penn really well, and could see myself as a student there!
If anyone has any questions about my comments, feel free to ask-I know I met a ton of TLSers there, so we would all be happy to answer!
Last edited by The Stig
on Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.