Report by Adam Pascarella, graduate of UPenn Law ’14
Class of 2020 Statistics:
LSAT Scores 25% / Median / 75%: 163 / 169 / 170
GPA 25% / Median / 75%: 3.54 / 3.89 / 3.94
2019 1L Class:
Completed Applications: 5601
Offers of Admission: 986
Acceptance Rate: 17.6%
Total Class Size: 244
Typical First Year Section Size: 83
US News (2019): #7
Above The Law (2018): #6
Tuition and Fees (2019 – 2020):
Total 1L Attrition Rate (2019 – 2020):
Financial Aid Deadline:
Next LSAT: February 20/21
- Employment Outcomes
- Feeder Industries
- Pro Bono Work
- Insider’s View
The University of Pennsylvania Law School is one of the oldest law schools in the world. Penn Law is located on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It traces its roots back to the 18th century, where James Wilson, one of America’s Founding Fathers, delivered law lectures to students in Philadelphia. The University of Pennsylvania officially began offering full-time programs in law in 1850 and has educated notable lawyers, judges, politicians, and business people. Some prominent alumni include former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts, former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, and Oracle CFO Safra Catz.
A member of the Ivy League, Penn Law School is widely respected within the legal community. Penn Law is consistently within the top ten of the US News & World Report law school rankings and is known for sending graduates to work at some of the largest law firms in the world (so-called “Big Law” firms). It is also known for sending graduates to participate in clerkships at the state and federal levels. Penn’s location is also an asset to law students and grads, as they can easily pursue positions in Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington DC.
Penn Law students are often satisfied with their experience. The law school prides itself on its collegiality, both from professor-to-student and from student-to-student. While courses—like other law schools—are graded on a curve, competition among law students is less intense than at other law schools, as it is understood that everyone will ultimately find a job after graduation. In other words, there is less pressure to outcompete your peers as compared to a smaller, less prestigious school where there aren’t as many job opportunities. This creates a more positive environment where students are more willing to help each other, not only in the day-to-day life of a law student, but when preparing for their exams.
Penn Law is a selective school. The median LSAT score for the class of 2020 was 169 and the median undergraduate GPA was 3.89. Out of 5,601 applicants to the class of 2020, 244 enrolled. 48 percent of enrollees were women and 34 percent were students of color. 72 percent were out of college for one or more years and the average age was 24 years old. Members of the class of 2020 come from over 200 colleges and universities.
Applying to Penn Law is fairly straightforward. You may decide to apply through early decision or regular admission.
Should you choose to apply early decision, early decision applications must be submitted through LSAC by November 15 for Round One or January 7 for Round Two. All supporting documents must be submitted by December 1 for Round One and January 15 for Round Two. Round One applicants will receive a decision (admit, deny or hold) by the end of December and Round Two applicants will receive a decision by the end of January.
The deadline to apply early decision is March 1. According to Penn Law Admissions, decisions are made on a rolling basis from December to May. While the Admissions Committee may interview candidates based on its discretion, it does not offer interviews at the request of the applicant.
Finally, like some other law schools, Penn Law is starting a program that allows applicants to submit the GRE or GMAT in lieu of the LSAT. This is a new initiative at Penn Law, and further details can be found on their website.
Read more about Penn Law’s admissions policies can be found.
Penn Law is known for world-class academics. The school prides itself on the strength of its faculty. Some prominent faculty members include Kermit Roosevelt, Christopher Yoo, David Rudovsky, Stephen Burbank and Anita Allen.
Like other law schools, Penn Law’s 1L curriculum includes fundamental courses like constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, torts, civil procedure, and legal practice skills. After 1L year, however, Penn Law students can choose from an extensive list of electives, including foreign relations law, corporate restructuring, and health law and policy. The law school also prides itself on its clinical opportunities, where law students—supervised by a Penn Law professor—can work on real-life matters. Popular clinics include the entrepreneurship legal clinic and the transnational legal clinic. As Penn Law is located in and near several major cities, students also take advantage of internship and externship opportunities throughout their 2L and 3L years.
Along with purely legal training, Penn Law prides itself on cross-disciplinary studies. Like other law schools, Penn offers dual degree programs, with the JD/MBA option being the most popular (as it allows law students to obtain an MBA from one of the top three business schools in the country). But even if students aren’t planning on obtaining a dual degree, leadership at Penn Law—like Dean Theodore Ruger—have made it a priority to allow Penn Law students to take advantage of the world-class resources at Penn.
Over 65 percent of Penn Law’s class of 2017 graduates obtained a certificate of study in some discipline other than law. Some of the more popular certificates offered include the certificate in management and certificate in business economics and public policy at the Wharton School, along with the certificate of study in communication and media policy at the Annenberg School for Communication.
Ultimately, Penn Law offers students the chance to pursue their intellectual passions—whatever they are. It’s a paradise for the student who is interested in the intellectual or practical aspects of legal practice—and beyond.
In a time where some law graduates are still struggling to find jobs, Penn Law prides itself on its graduates’ strong employment outcomes. According to U.S. News & World Report, Penn Law is the top school in America in terms of the percentage of graduates finding full-time jobs (not funded by a law school that last at least one year) and for which the position either requires bar passage or is a “J.D. advantage” position, meaning that a law degree is an advantage, but not a requirement, to perform the job. In fact, for the graduating class of 2017, 254 of the 256 graduates are considered employed (one is seeking employment and the other is enrolled in a full-time degree). These numbers are outstanding.
A good number of Penn Law students pursue positions at some of the largest private practice law firms in the world (also known as “Big Law” firms). Recruiters from these Big Law firms travel to campus in the fall of each year, recruiting rising 2Ls for summer associate positions (which, in nearly every circumstance, become full-time associate positions after graduation). Many Penn Law students jump at these opportunities (specifically, in New York City, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia). In fact, more than 55 percent of the class of 2017 reported a position at a firm with more than 501 lawyers. Simply put, if you are thinking of working at a law firm that pays some of the highest salaries in the legal industry, Penn Law is a great choice for you.
While you will see many of your peers pursue Big Law positions, Penn Law graduates pursue other opportunities. Clerkships are the next popular option (15 percent of class of 2017 graduates), followed by positions in business and industry (about 6 percent) and public interest positions (about 4 percent). Ultimately, however, Penn Law is known for placing students in Big Law firms, so it’s important to keep this in mind as you are making your law school decision.
As stated above, many Penn Law graduates find their first jobs in private practice. Out of those private practice jobs, a significant amount are at Big Law firms. For a full breakdown of employment outcomes for Penn Law graduates in the last five years, please consult the following table.
If you would like to learn about salary outcomes for Penn Law students, you can find that information on the school’s website website.
|Business or Industry||15||21||12||10||19|
|Government or Military||6||8||7||9||9|
|Law School Funded (Short-Term)||1||0||3||0||0|
|Law School Funded (Long-Term)||5||4||6||9||13|
|Other Short Term||0||2||0||1||1|
|Business or Industry||15||21||12||10||19|
There are also many pro bono opportunities at Penn Law through the school’s Toll Public Interest Center. In fact, the school requires all graduates to complete at least 70 hours of law-related pro bono work supervised by an attorney. Not only can you participate in student pro bono projects, but there are also external pro bono placements, clinics and externships, and self-initiated placements. Some student projects, for instance, include the
Animal Law Project, Democracy Law Project, Financial Literacy Project, Penn Law Advocates for the Homeless, and Students for Technological Progress.
Ultimately, Penn Law prides itself on its pro bono work and the pro bono opportunities that it provides to students. Not only do students gain tangible legal experience while in law school, but they provide help to litigants, organizations, and communities that need it the most.
Like many law schools, Penn offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities.
First, the journals. Penn also publishes the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Law Review (the oldest law review in America), along with other well-respected journals like the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law.
Here is a full list of student organizations. Penn Law has traditional law school clubs like the Federalist Society and a mock trial team, but other clubs like the Penn Law Real Estate Club, Penn Law Ski Club, and the Pardon Project.
Many Penn Law students participate in one or several extracurricular activities during their time in law school. They are a great way to have fun, meet new friends, and unwind from the stresses of law school.
Penn Law is rightly known for its rockstar faculty, collegial student body, and outstanding employment outcomes. While many law students experience some level of anxiety about finding their first job, Penn Law students can rest assured that they will find something (in all likelihood, the type of job that they want). Penn Law’s career services office is fantastic and is happy to help law students who are struggling to find the position that they want.
Living in Philadelphia, law students are able to enjoy the benefits of a large city combined with a world-class educational institution. Many law students live on or near the Penn Law campus during their 1L year, but branch off to live in other parts of the city (particularly, Center City) during their 2L and 3L years. Living off campus allows law students to experience all the best of Philadelphia, including stellar bars, restaurants, and entertainment.
Finally, at Penn Law, there is real, yet subtle pressure to pursue positions in Big Law. The pressure comes from the sheer number of Big Law firms that visit campus to recruit rising 2Ls. As a Penn Law student, you will see many of your friends participate in the recruitment process, and often, you will feel some pressure to follow the crowd. While Penn Law does a great job securing excellent employment outcomes for their graduates, many of them are in Big Law positions, which may not be the best fit for graduating students.
Penn Law offers a terrific mix of stellar academics and strong post-graduate opportunities. Students live in one of America’s largest cities and are able to leverage their location to pursue jobs not only in Philadelphia, but in New York City, Washington DC, and other East Coast cities. Penn Law students are happier than the standard law school and the Penn Law name is extremely valuable throughout their careers. Ultimately, it is a great choice for most prospective law students.
If you’d like to learn more, Penn Law has provided a list of FAQs here. You can also find Penn Law’s mandatory ABA Disclosures (including admissions and employment information) on their website. Finally, for more information, you can always visit Penn Law’s website.