Curious about Penn Law? Here you will find plenty of information about Penn and BLSA, including testimonials from both current students and alumni, information on Penn Law's cross-disciplinary opportunities, and profiles of Penn BLSA members and their achievements. If you would like to speak to a current Penn BLSA member, please feel free to email Khary Cyrus, our Alumni & Admissions Chair. We wish you the best of luck in the admissions process and hope you join us soon!
On behalf of Penn Law's Black Law Students Association ("BLSA"), we welcome you to learn more about our BLSA family and the greater Penn Law community!
If you’re similar to us as we were making our law school decision, you may be wondering whether Penn Law is the best fit for you- not only in regard to its academic opportunities, career prospects, or alumni connections, but also its everyday environment, particularly for students of color. Let’s face it: you’ll be spending your next three years in law school- you want to make sure it’s a place where you’ll feel comfortable. We have good news for you- Penn Law is a place you won’t regret attending.
We are proud to attest to the Penn Law’s supportive environment for students of color. To begin, there is a community of peers who are here to support you, a person who has self-identified as Black. Among Penn Law’s several affinity groups, BLSA is a student-led organization that supports Black students and those who are interested in Black student issues. BLSA seeks to prepare our members to be academically, professionally, and socially successful. Each year, BLSA plans programs to engage the student and global community. We spearhead our own pro bono project, Project PEACE (Peaceful Endings through Attorneys, Children, and Educators), where members teach peer mediation and conflict resolution to local middle-school students. BLSA annually hosts the Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Commemorative Conference that celebrates the life and legacy of the first Black woman to graduate from Penn Law and first Black woman to practice law in Pennsylvania. This year, we celebrate the 30h anniversary of the conference with a discussion of Race and the 2nd Amendment, a career fair, and an alumni reunion. Last year, we raised more than $50,000, which will enable our students to travel to Accra, Ghana to provide legal aid to vulnerable children over Spring Break. Most personal to you, BLSA focuses many of our resources toward preparing our 1L members for success through career programming with firms, a formal BLSA Buddy system with upperclassmen, and 1L outlining and exam preparation tips. Lastly, a BLSA highlight each year is our annual BLSA retreat to the Poconos Mountains with the entire organization- it’s a weekend filled with food, reflection and planning, and fun social activities.
In addition to involvement in BLSA, our members lead in every facet of the Penn Law community—from Law Review to moot court to public interest organizations, students of color are visible and connected at Penn Law. BLSA members excel in the classroom, but we also know how to break outside the four walls of Penn Law into the Philadelphia community. You’ll catch us at a softball tournament, at the bowling lanes on Wednesday, or training for Philadelphia’s historic Broad Street Run.
As an institution, Penn Law supports Black scholarship. To begin, Penn Law offers a number of classes taught by Black professors, including 1L courses such Torts by Professor Regina Austin and Reproductive Justice by Professor Dorothy Roberts. For upperclassmen, Penn Law offers engaging courses such as “Black Lives Matter in the Historical Perspective,” a course that examines the history of state-sanctioned violence against African Americans and resulting alliances against such violence. Outside the law school, the University of Pennsylvania offers the Makuu Center, which supports Black students across the entire university. Graduate student groups also host interdisciplinary conferences, free dinners, and social mixers for students of color to meet others outside their graduate school programs.
We realize you will have many excellent law school options. The decision that you face in the upcoming weeks can be challenging, but Penn BLSA offers our support. First, please check out the Prospective Students section of our website to read and hear stories of BLSA alumni, including what made them chose Penn Law. Second, BLSA hosts events during Penn Law's Admitted Students Weekend to give you an opportunity to meet our members and learn more about Penn. Finally, feel free to contact us via email with any questions you have about Penn Law.
We wish you the best as you consider your choices and hope to welcome you to the University of Pennsylvania Law School in the fall.
Nicholas C. Hall
BLSA Admissions Chair
"Coming to Penn I was very nervous because I hadn't interacted with many people at Penn Law. I had heard of the culture of collegiality, but an organization like BLSA really exemplified the meaning of that. From the first BLSA event, I realized I was surrounded with people that were invested in my growth and success."
"The thing that I love most about Penn, and BLSA in particular, is the intentionality around fostering a true sense of community. From the time I arrived at Penn until now, people have taken great pains to make sure that I had everything I need to adjust to law school. From rap sessions with the administration to academic support from my fellow BLSA members, Penn made every effort to help me succeed in my 1L year and beyond. I believe that this makes Penn a unique place to study law."
"What I like most about Penn Law is the sense of community that extends throughout the whole enterprise. I can always count on my teachers to be friendly and ever-willing to assist by filling in understanding gaps. I can always count on classmates to be consistent study partners and all-around friends with whom I can share laughs. Penn really is like a family."
"One of my favorite things about Penn is the Black Law Students Association. It's truly a family and makes me feel at home. From the moment I was accepted, I was flooded with love and guidance. For example, we all have 1L mentors who provide 1Ls with outlines, answers to every question, and support throughut your time at Penn Law. Another very helpful thing that BLSA does is provide everyone an OCI mentor. OCI is one of the most stressful times in law school, but with an OCI mentor, I was able to enter the process with an understanding of what to expect."
"I’ve had the opportunity to tailor my education to my own personal interests. Not only am I interested in business and transactional work, but I’m also interested in politics, elections, and public policy. One of the great things about Penn is it’s emphasis on interdisciplinary education. It has been a great opportunity to get a more holistic graduate school experience."
Penn BLSA's Kendra Sandidge was named Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review for the 2015–2016 academic year. She is the first African-American woman to do hold the postion. She sat down with Penn Law Communications to discuss the purpose of law reviews, how students become editors, and how the Law Review fits into the Penn Law community.
Penn BLSA's Danielle McCall was one of four Keedy Cup finalists for 2016. This extremely prestigious event is Penn Law's most selective moot court competition, bringing in real judges from around the nation to decide the winners. Danielle also serves as the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Chair.