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Drexel Professor of Law Gwen Stern and her husband Andy Stern donated $1.65 million to Drexel University’s Community Lawyering Clinic under the Kline School of Law. (Photo by Daderot | CC0)

Drexel University’s Community Lawyering Clinic under the Kline School of Law received a $1.65 million donation last Thursday from Drexel Law professor Gwen Stern and her husband Andy Stern, a partner at Kline and Specter law firm.

The Sterns’ gift is their latest contribution to the school's community lawyering programs. Since 2005, Gwen Stern has served as the director of the school’s Trial Advocacy program. The Sterns have also regularly worked with faculty, students, and clients in the Community Lawyering Clinic. 

Now called the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic, the clinic allows law students to serve as community lawyers in nearby Mantua and Powelton Village neighborhoods. It offers free representation and legal advice to low-income individuals and families, and publishes reports to advocate for policies protecting the rights of West Philadelphians. 

Using the money, the clinic said it will hire a staff attorney who will help oversee its work, which in the past has included helping disabled individuals regain Social Security benefits and protecting low-income homeowners from foreclosure. The clinic is staffed by students in Kline Law’s Community Lawyering Clinic externship course

Gwen Stern said in a Drexel press release that she and her husband have always been looking for a way to give direct services to the underserved community. 

Kline Law’s Dean Daniel Filler said the gift will strengthen Drexel’s impact in Philadelphia neighborhoods and support the law school’s social justice focus.

Penn Law runs a similar program, which involves students in its Community Legal Services externship course. Students represent more than 11,000 low-income Philadelphians annually and help improve the lives of the poor through advocating for systemic changes, according to the program website

CLS places students in its Center City and North Philadelphia offices, where they conduct client interviews and counseling, as well as prepare for and participate in hearings — all under the supervision of a legal services attorney.