Helen Phillips finds community at KU Law in small section

Small Section 1 poses for a photo after a law school function. Photo courtesy of Helen Phillips.

Let me just say, starting law school in the middle of a pandemic is a bit odd. Really, everything over the past year has been different, and sometimes really tough. But I do know that I am surviving, and sometimes even enjoying myself, because of my small section (Woo! Small Section 1!). As a 1L, everyone is placed in a small section that is made up of about twenty people. You will take all your first-year classes with the same group and one of the highlights since the fall has been getting to know the awesome people in my small section! Here a few of the best things (in my opinion) about small sections:

1. There is always someone to discuss the material with.

Chances are, at some point, you will be very confused about a topic in one of your classes. I’ve definitely felt that way. However, the great thing about small sections is that it’s likely someone in your section understands and can help explain the topic. And at some point, you will probably return the favor. 

Small Section 1 poses for a photo in a classroom at Green Hall. Students are wearing vacation-themed attire to celebrate respite week. Photo courtesy of Helen Phillips.

2. Small sections are built-in communities that understand what you are going through.

Sometimes law school is tough, especially the first year. Everything is new, and law school is a very different learning environment than undergrad. So, sometimes you just want to talk to someone who has the same professors, assignments, and is generally just going through the same experience. It can be great to vent sometimes with people who understand what you are going through.

Five law students pose for a photo next to a Jayhawk statue while wearing vacation-themed attire to celebrate respite week. Photo courtesy of Helen Phillips.

3. Less worry about getting that cold call wrong in class.

One of the beauties of seeing the same people every day is that you get pretty comfortable with them. Because of that – messing up that cold call in Contracts or whatever class it may be – is less of a big deal because I know my section mates don’t think any less of me for it.

4. During the pandemic, small sections have been a great way to make friends because a lot of the typical social activities look different this year.

Like I said before, starting law school during a pandemic is odd. When I applied to KU Law, I couldn’t have imagined that a few months later we would be in the middle of a pandemic. I remember being nervous and unsure about what the school year would look like (or how I would make friends) given the necessary changes to keep everyone safe (student groups meet virtually only, for example). I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get to know my section mates. Even though we are all in masks and sit six feet apart in class, we have found ways to get to know each other and enjoy the year!

— By Helen Phillips, a 1L from Overland Park and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

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