Kline School of Law Announces Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic
Below is a message from Dean Dan Filler of the Kline School of Law:
I am delighted to share wonderful news regarding a major gift from two prominent members of the Philadelphia legal community to the Thomas R. Kline School of Law — one that will enhance Drexel’s impact on the community and support Kline Law’s deep commitment to social justice.
Thanks to a $1.65 million naming gift from Andy and Gwen Stern, Kline Law’s Community Lawyering Clinic will now be known as the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic.
Andy is a partner at Kline & Specter, which was co-founded by our naming benefactor Tom Kline and is one of the preeminent plaintiffs’ firms in the country. Andy 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. As most of you know, Gwen is director of our Trial Advocacy Program. Their 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 to substantially extend the clinic’s reach.
As you might imagine, Rachel is thrilled.
“Andy and Gwen’s generous gift will allow us to realize the clinic’s full potential,” Rachel 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.”
We all associate Gwen with our powerhouse Trial Advocacy program and Trial Team, but her commitment to public service predates the Kline School of Law. In 2005, Gwen 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 Gwen’s hard work.
And while Andy is well known for his trial work, he’s quietly been making an impact at the Community Lawyering Clinic — along with Gwen — working behind the scenes with Rachel and 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 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,” Gwen said, 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 said.
This is great news for both Kline Law and our surrounding community. 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 at Kline Law. Please join me in thanking them.