Thanks to a $1.65 million naming gift from Andy and Gwen Stern, the Community Lawyering Clinic will now be known as the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic.
Andy Stern is a partner at Kline & Specter, which was co-founded by law school naming benefactor Tom Kline, and is one of the preeminent plaintiffs’ firms in the country. Stern is a highly accomplished trial lawyer who has obtained record-setting verdicts and settlements, including a $95.6 million recovery on behalf of a catastrophically injured woman in the litigation related to Philadelphia’s Salvation Army building collapse.
Professor Gwen Stern has directed the school’s nationally ranked Trial Advocacy program since 2007.
“This gift will enhance Drexel’s impact on the community and support Kline Law’s deep commitment to social justice,” Dean Daniel Filler said. “In addition to providing critical support for Kline Law’s social action mission, this gift will be life-changing by helping to meet the legal needs of many individuals living in West Philadelphia. I am deeply grateful to Andy and Gwen for their generous support for the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic.”
The Sterns’ transformative gift reflects their passion for community engagement and will enable the Community Lawyering Clinic to hire a staff attorney to support the important work that the clinic, under its director Rachel López, is doing and will extend the reach of the clinic, located in the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.
“Andy and Gwen’s generous gift will allow us to realize the clinic’s full potential,” López said. “Not only will it mean that we can provide more high-quality legal assistance to some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable, but it will also create new opportunities for innovations that will facilitate a more collective and holistic approach to legal problem-solving. I am truly honored for the CLC to bear the names of these two remarkable attorneys.”
Gwen Stern is most often associated with the school’s powerhouse Trial Advocacy program and Trial Team, but her commitment to public service predates the Kline School of Law. In 2005, she established the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project in Philadelphia, bringing a national program dedicated to teaching city teens about the legal system and exposing them to the power of advocacy. Thousands of Philadelphia high school students have learned the relevance and power of the Constitution, thanks to her hard work.
And while Andy Stern is well known for his trial work, he’s quietly been making an impact at the Community Lawyering Clinic — along with his wife — working behind the scenes with López and Visiting Assistant Professor Lauren Katz Smith ‘09, their students, and their clients.
“We’ve always been looking for a way to give back. We’ve really been looking for a way to give direct services to the underserved community,” Gwen Stern said. “Andy and I are totally committed to working with the students, Rachel and the clients. We are really excited to be doing this work.”
Providing hands-on legal service to some of Drexel’s underrepresented neighbors is “a joy,” she added, while her husband has been “blown away” by the students’ commitment and skill.
“I am honored to be part of the team of ‘legal eagles’ at the Community Lawyering Clinic and looking forward to making a positive difference to clients in need,” Andy Stern said.