The Law School has begun to require second- and third-year law students to perform 35 hours of free public service work each year. The Public Service Program, announced last summer, allows students to carry out their public service requirement by working with abused women and children or tenant groups, helping provide criminal defense for the indigent, or working for the City Solicitor, among other options. Those who do not complete 35 hours of service by the end of the school year must complete 55 hours - an additional 20 hours - in order to register for classes the following year. Students said that the program, which began September 5, should give them experiences that classroom work does not always cover. A few law students began fulfilling their requirement during the summer. The program is also desigend to improve the image of the University in the community. "People see Penn like all the other top ten schools, for rich people who want to make money," said second-year student Jill Chessen. "We're not just interested in making money, we're interested in helping needy people who need public service." Over 70 percent of the program's placements are in the Center City area, said Judith Bernstein-Baker, director of the program. "They [the University] have been changing their image in the last few years," Bernstein-Baker said. "The University as a whole has been trying to improve it's community outreach work". The University is one of only a few that have such a requirement. Tulane University in New Orleans and the University of Southern California have similar programs, and Harvard University is considering one. Although some students objected when the program was introduced last year, the time commitment has not seemed to disturb them so far. "I don't think 35 hours is a lot to ask," Shapiro said. "It's something you can't learn in law school." "It's only a couple of hours a week," said Chessen."Besides, it's the only way some people would do it."Comments powered by Disqus
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