“It will be by engaging all of us, together—our expert faculty, our brilliant students, our exceptional staff, our accomplished alumni—that we will shape the Law School’s future.”
- Sophia Z. Lee, Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law
Today, Sophia Z. Lee, Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law, shares a special welcome message as Penn Carey Law students, faculty, and staff begin a new academic year.
I’m Sophia Lee, Dean of Penn Carey Law.
I’m a legal historian, a former social worker, and I’ve been a member of the faculty for 14 years now.
When I joined the faculty, fewer than one in four of us were women. Today, I’m proud to be the Law School’s first woman dean serving a faculty that’s nearly half women. And that’s not all that’s changed!
We have expanded our scholarships and fellowships and financial aid in ways that have opened new pathways into and out of Penn Carey Law.
Students, while they’re here with us, can pursue joint degrees and certificates with almost any school on Penn’s campus, and they can study abroad at law schools across the globe. We also have exciting new programs that have made a legal education available to people in non-law careers and disciplines.
Well, there are some important core qualities of the Law School that have stayed the same.
The Law School is still a place with a robust service ethos, a highly cross-disciplinary faculty that is committed to academic excellence; and it’s still a place with a strong and collegial culture.
All of those qualities are very long-standing, and I experienced every single one of them when I started on the faculty.
I still remember the incredible joy that my eldest son got from Ms. Cornell’s rubber duck collection. I remember the warm welcome my wife and our family received, including from colleagues in our neighborhood who opened their homes to us.
I remember being so impressed with our student pro-bono programs. Those were broad. They had enormous impact. And I especially love that they were all student-designed and run.
I remember how rigorous my first faculty workshop was and just the incredible energy and curiosity that my students brought to class every single day.
Another thing I love about this academic home is its physical layout: four buildings around a courtyard.
That layout ensures that we have daily interactions among faculty, students, and staff. It also fosters the personal touch that we bring to everything that we do, and I think it gives us a sense of belonging and camaraderie that really defines us.
As with any dynamic community full of thoughtful and passionate people, we do disagree at times. But those differences actually enrich our work together when we pursue it with courage, with civility, with mutual respect. And that layout—and the community that it fosters—helps ensure that we do that.
When I look forward, I am deeply committed to preserving all the many things that make the Law School great, even as we embrace the exciting opportunities ahead to change and to grow.
I am certain that it will be by engaging all of us, together—our expert faculty, our brilliant students, our exceptional staff, our accomplished alumni—that will shape the Law School’s future.
Because, in the end, the Penn Carey Law community inspires me every single day, and I cannot wait to do this work together.