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Collegiality Defined

February 28, 2018

Kristen Lucas L’20 shares what collegiality means at Penn Law.

Hi, Class of 2021! My name is Kristen Lucas, and I am a 1L here at Penn Law.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the term “collegiality” tossed around by different law schools to describe their culture and environment. But what does collegiality really mean? Well, I want to share with you what it means to us at Penn Law.

Back in early September, I found myself sitting in an unfamiliar classroom nervously shuffling my notes around my desk in anticipation of my very first law school class. It was Torts. I was nervous about the potential of getting cold-called but figured there was very little chance of it happening. After all, there are about 80 people in my section, and my last name is not one that particularly stands out — nor is it at the beginning or end of the alphabet. At exactly 9:00 a.m., my professor walked into the classroom and laid out a large seating chart on a table beside his podium.  He looked at his chart and then looked straight at me and said, “Ms. Lucas, will you please state the facts of Vosburg v. Putney.”

Now, I’m not sure those were his exact words because my stomach dropped; my heart jumped out of my chest; and I’m pretty sure I blacked out. But the question was something close to that. I was the first person cold-called in our first law school class, and I couldn’t believe it.

I lived to tell the story because as I sat there fumbling my way through my first cold-call response, I looked around the room. I saw friendly faces of people I had come to know during orientation week; some of my new friends were giving me thumbs up; and after class, people I had never met went out of their way to tell me I’d done a good job. Suddenly, law school didn’t seem so scary.

That’s collegiality at Penn Law.

As the year has gone on, the supportive nature of this environment has manifested itself tenfold. This is a list of just some of the other “collegial” things I’ve experienced since that terrifying cold-call on that first day in Torts:

  • Multiple people offering to share their notes if I miss class
  • Upperclassmen sharing their outlines from their 1L year (outlines help with finals…and basically save lives)
  • My Morris Fellow (upperclassman mentor) bringing us donuts (and cookies) (and cooking us dinner)
  • My Littleton Fellow (writing-class mentor) bringing us donuts (and meeting with us as much as we would like to help us with our memos) (but donuts are what’s important, right?!)
  • An *almost* overwhelming amount of information on how to best prepare for finals (e.g. student groups holding panels, upperclassmen holding panels about specific professors, past tests and sample answers available to practice with, Academic Success lunches, and so much more)
  • Classmates sharing job opportunities for the summer
  • Friends proofreading every email to every potential employer
  • Upperclassmen willing to meet to discuss interview tips and preparation (even if I’d never met them before!)
  • Friends sending good luck texts before interviews
  • Support posts in the Class of 2020 Facebook page right before finals and right before grades were released
  • And so many other things!

I love the environment here at Penn Law, and I hope you all will come visit and fall in love with it too. I can’t wait to meet you during Admitted Students Weekend!