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Cozen O’Connor has become the first law firm to endow a professorship at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law Chair will begin with a $2 million endowment to honor the firm’s founder and chairman. Cozen, a 1964 Penn Law graduate, has been involved with his alma mater in a variety of capacities. He has served more than a decade on the school’s board of overseers, taught classes and funded projects such as a study room in Tannenbaum Hall. After Cozen stepped down as the firm’s CEO two years ago, his successor and longtime partner Patrick O’Connor met with Penn Law dean Michael Fitts about finding a way to honor Cozen’s dedication to the law school. Fitts suggested an endowed professorship, and the firm’s partnership agreed. The firm will next have to decide what law topic the endowed professor will teach. Cozen said his area of interest would be the civil justice system, but that Penn Law already has some of the best professors in that area. “I think I would like to see it fill a need that the school has,” Cozen said. “And I’d like to see them get someone who is regarded as a significant presence in the legal world.” Even though U.S. News & World Report annually ranks Penn Law as one of the 10 best law schools in the nation, Cozen said the school has the lowest endowment among those top-tier institutions. He said he hopes the professorship endowment will help Penn Law to better compete for the services of the nation’s best law professors. Fitts said it’s very unusual for a law firm to endow a chair. The endowment also provides new incentives for Penn Law faculty. “A chair is a way of rewarding the very best faculty members,” Fitts said. Right now, Penn Law is in the process of looking for new faculty members. Fitts said the school hopes to strengthen its current programs and that the faculty is the most important aspect to maintaining and improving the quality of the school. He added that the new chair would be very helpful in recruiting and retaining professors nationwide. It will increase Penn Law’s ability to compete with other top-tier law schools for legal educators. Under university guidelines, Cozen O’Connor has five years to fulfill the endowment pledge.

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