The Brief: Law School News and Events

Michael A. Fitts
Dean and Bernard G. Segal
Professor of Law

I AM A DIEHARD PHILLIES FAN. Growing up in West Philly, I listened to the team on my transistor radio and rooted for the boys of summer. While that allegiance produced a fair amount of heartache in my youth, what the team has achieved recently is truly remarkable. The combination of talent, a wily manager, a strategic general manager, and a one-for-all and all-for-one attitude has led to back-to-back World Series appearances, one of which ended in a parade down Broad Street.

The Law School's success bears some similarities to the Phillies, even though we pursue the life of the mind rather than of the body. Like my favorite team, we have built something very special at the Law School, where we put a high premium on teamwork. Given the wonderful intellectual and social diversity in our community, this connection is one of our greatest institutional and educational assets. It is a critical ingredient of our professionalism. Here, unlike some law schools, everyone pulls for one another. We cheer each other's success and understand that the sum of the parts can be just as important as any one part. We have an extraordinary student body, a worldclass faculty and an incredible staff. But the relationship between all of these groups truly makes each group succeed even more and sets us apart from our peers.

Generations of alumni always ask whether Penn Law remains the same as they remember, despite the improvements to the physical plant, the growth of the faculty, and the sweeping changes to the curriculum. It is. Proof can be found in this issue, in which we define the things that identify us: our small size, our contiguous campus, and our infectious spirit of cooperation between students and among students, faculty and administration. It is a hallmark of a great educational community.

Fortunately, I have had the benefit of observing the uniqueness of Penn since childhood. I grew up on campus, the son of a professor and chief of surgery at the Medical School. My father, who spent his entire career at Penn, recognized the school's intellectual capacity to make connections between theory and practice and to support its people. But, as a man raised in rural Tennessee, he also appreciated the lack of pretension. The same was true of my maternal grandfather, a Pennsylvania farm boy who rose to dean of the Wharton School.

Like them, I have made Penn my home. I have spent 25 years at the Law School, as both dean and professor, and there is no better place to serve.

While it is true that I will never get to play first base for the Phillies, I have had the privilege the last 11 years of leading the best law school franchise in the country. As much as I love the Phillies, I remain an even bigger fan of Penn Law School, which, if recent history is a guide, will welcome a new class next fall at just around the time that I hope the Phillies make another stretch run to the World Series.

Dean Fitts' signature