#PennLawLife: The meaning of collegiality at Penn Law
This is the first in a series of blogs from current students examining aspects of #PennLawLife.
Collegiality at Penn Law- it’s a sense of community, respect, sharing and working together towards a common goal. It seems to transcend everything we do here. And it runs through everyone, including the deans, faculty, staff and students. Sure, it’s probably the most cliched word used endlessly to describe our school. But, I think it’s for good reason.
At the most basic level, it starts with something as simple as the design of our newly renovated building. It’s a rectangle with common-area lounges at each end and a courtyard in the middle. The layout itself encourages constant interaction amongst all members of the Penn Law community. On a typical day, I’ll run into and engage with classmates of all years, faculty members and administration. Those interactions make it easier to develop strong relationships with the students and professionals throughout our school.
Beyond the facility, the second and third year students do so much to help transition our 1L class into the community. From day one, as a 1L we were each assigned a 2L student mentor as well as a 3L legal writing instructor/mentor. They have taken us out for meals, provided us numerous class outlines, and given invaluable advice in navigating the challenges of the first year. Many of my peers have also sought out student mentors specific to their interests from within our student organizations. The guidance I have received from upperclassmen has been an invaluable resource in guiding my first year of legal education.
What I love about Penn is that students aren’t the only ones to develop relationships and help each other. I have found that the faculty members are incredibly accessible as well. To start, we were all assigned a faculty mentor at the beginning of the year. So far, I have gone out to lunch with mine. Some of my classmates have done dinner and sporting events with their mentors as well. In addition, we have a tradition of doing lunches in small groups with all of our 1L professors. Often professors will also participate in panel discussions during lunchtime programs sponsored by various student organizations.
The building, upperclassmen and faculty mentors are just a few of the critical components shaping the collegiality of Penn Law. I believe that the environment here remains a significant reason why many students, like myself, cited their visits to our school as the determining factor in choosing to come to Penn.