Press Release

Louis S. Rulli, JD, Public Interest Lawyer and Academic, Named Recipient of Villanova University’s 2015 Praxis Award in Professional Ethics

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Villanova University Ethics Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has named Louis S. Rulli, JD, former Executive Director of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and current professor of law at University of Pennsylvania Law School – as the recipient of the 2015 Praxis Award in Professional Ethics. Entering its ninth year, the Praxis Award honors and celebrates the contributions of a professional or academic in the field of professional ethics. This year’s award will be presented Thursday, April 16, at 4 p.m., in the Villanova Room of The Connelly Center.

“The Praxis Award in Professional Ethics enables Villanova University to celebrate professionals who have committed themselves to the highest ethical ideals of their profession,” said Mark Doorley, PhD, director of the Ethics Program and chair of the Praxis Selection Committee. “Praxis Award recipients remind each of us, including our students, that a commitment to living ethically in one’s professional life is, indeed, the way to excellence in that profession.”

Rulli began his legal career at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS), shortly after receiving his law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in 1974. Established by the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1966, CLS is an independent organization that provides free legal services in civil manners to low-income Philadelphians.  After holding several key positions with CLS, Rulli was promoted to executive director, and was responsible for the delivery of free legal services to approximately 30,000 clients each year. During his term as director, CLS was named by Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly as "the most successful of all legal services programs" in the nation.

“Mr. Rulli joins the list of Praxis Award recipients because of his extraordinary commitment to insuring that all people, particularly the most vulnerable, have expert representation when they find themselves involve in the United States justice system,” said Doorley. “He has lived the ethical ideals of his profession, and now, in his role as a law professor, he is guiding his students toward a similar commitment.”

After nine years as executive director at CLS, Rulli joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1995. He currently serves as the director of Clinical Programs at the Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies, Penn Law School’s in-house teaching office. Rulli is also Practice Professor of Law at Penn, where he specializes in litigation, legislation, public interest law, and clinical teaching.

Rulli was selected in 2006 as a recipient of the Provost’s Award of the University of Pennsylvania for Distinguished Teaching, one of two university-wide provost’s awards bestowed each year on faculty for teaching excellence. Other notable awards received by Rulli include the first-annual Philadelphia Bar Association’s Andrew Hamilton Award (1993), the Pennsylvania Bar Lifetime Achievement Award (2003) and the Leaders for Justice Award (2003).

Recipients of the award have accomplished one or more of the following achievements:

  • excellence in fulfilling and embodying the ethical ideals of a profession;
  • excellence in conecting professional work to a broader understanding of the common good;
  • excellence in promoting and embodying ethical integrity in a professional field;
  • excellence with respect to research in the field of professional ethics;
  • excellence in terms of influence on the field of professional ethics through writing, teaching, consulting and/or professional leadership.