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First Annual Oxholm Colloquium Focuses on ‘Worthy’ Work

Philadelphia City Solicitor Sozi Tulante visits law school October 2016

October 18, 2016

The law school saluted public interest careers at the First Annual Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III Public Interest Colloquium on Oct. 13.

The event celebrated a $200,000 gift from former Drexel Senior Vice President and General Counsel Tobey Oxholm that supports students seeking public service careers by underwriting summer fellowships in the Philadelphia City Solicitor’s Office.

Keynote speaker City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante ticked off a list of benefits found in public service, such as influencing the public debate, speaking for the voiceless and drawing inspiration from one’s clients.

Appointed city solicitor by Mayor Jim Kenney after serving as an assistant U.S. attorney and practicing with firms like Hangley Aronchick and Goodwin Procter, Tulante grew up in North Philadelphia after coming to the U.S. from the former Zaire, where his father had been a political prisoner. 

Tulante described the transition from his adolescence in one of Philly’s most troubled neighborhoods to his role in prosecuting one of the biggest drug seizures in the history of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which took place a half block from the middle school he attended.  The path included a detour to Harvard University, where he earned both his bachelor’s and Juris Doctor degrees.

As the city’s top lawyer, Tulante now supervises 200 attorneys who tackle matters ranging from child welfare to civil rights to pensions for city workers.

Those attorneys, Tulante noted, include growing numbers of Kline alumni, who are making important contributions to the life of the city.

Dean Roger DennisDean Roger Dennis thanked Oxholm both for his generous gift and for the crucial role he played in arranging for the law school’s launch 10 years ago.

When the late Drexel President Constantine Papadakis announced plans for the school with a vow that it would offer the most intensive experiential learning and legal writing programs in the country, Dennis said, Oxholm bore much of the burden for bringing that vision life.

Oxholm’s gift has had “a profound influence” on the law school, Dennis added, noting that it has already enabled numerous students to launch meaningful careers in the public sector.

Tom Kline, Sozi Tulante and Tobey OxholmNow a leader at Rowan University, Oxholm said that public interest law was a highlight of his career in legal practice.

Having spent many years practicing law at some of the nation’s leading law firms, Oxholm said, he found the greatest satisfaction as a lawyer when he worked as the chief deputy solicitor for the City of Philadelphia.

Students, Oxholm said, should always consider “what’s worth doing.”

Tulante agreed, calling public interest lawyers “heroes” who make it possible to fulfill the late Rev. Martin Luther King’s observation that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.

“The only reason that it happens,” Tulante said, “is because there are people working every day for the common good.”