The Law School is partnering with the Wharton School to launch the first management program for law students of its kind.
The 12-week program, set to begin in the fall of 2013, will meet twice a week for 90 minute sessions and allow students to obtain a Wharton Certificate in Management. It is designed to teach law students practical management and leadership skills — as well as finance and accounting— that will enable them to succeed after graduating.
“We asked ourselves what are the complimentary tools a good lawyer needs and how can we provide them on this campus,” said Jo-Ann Verrier, the vice dean for administrative services at the law school.
The program is divided up into four “modules” — Finance and Accounting, Leadership and Organization Design, Strategic Decision Making and Leadership and Competitive Advantage.
It is designed for upper-level law students and is expected to become a key part of the curriculum in the law school.
Verrier said that the program’s necessity stemmed from an overall evaluation at skills in the law school curriculum. She said that the Center on Professionalism was created when when changes were first being considered for the law school curriculum. Now the Wharton program is being added to the classical legal curriculum.
She added that “Dean [Michael] Fitts has always been a little bit ahead of the curve” in terms of his commitment to interdisciplinary education.
When considering what could be done to improve the law school to keep up with the rapidly changing marketplace, Heather Frattone, the associate dean of Career Planning and Professionalism, said it was necessary to reach out to employers and alumni to get a sense of what they’re looking for.
“One of the reasons we developed this program with Wharton was to provide our students an opportunity to learn basic business and management principles in a course that is tailored to law students,” Frattone said.
Additionally, Frattone said “this is really a part of our interdisciplinary approach that helps us stand out in the marketplace in terms of both perspective students and legal employers.”
The response to the program highlights the importance of management skills for law students whether they choose to go into the private or public sector, Frattone said.
“We’re getting wonderful feedback in the marketplace about how necessary this training is, how valuable it is, and how it will help our students,” she added.
Jodi Schwartz, who received her JD and MBA at Penn in 1984, had a positive reaction to the program.
“I think it’s going to attract law students but will also make law students attractive to future employers,” Schwartz said. “I think it will give people a leg up in their interview process and [in] getting hired.”
Schwartz, who is now a partner at Watchell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York, added that this course will contribute to the nature of Penn’s unique interdisciplinary approach.
“I think the law school is a great place and this is just another great thing about it,” Schwartz said.
Current students also recognize the potential benefits of such a program.
Nathan Schwartzberg, a first-year law student, believes the program will help students prepare for a quickly evolving legal market. “[It] will provide its students with real, practical skills that are useful on a daily basis throughout a lawyer’s career,” he said.
“I’m excited to enroll in the course to broaden and refine my professional assets,” he added.
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