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Small Group Olympics


C.S., 1L

Last night, the 13 Yale Law 1L small groups waged spirited battles in pursuit of the ultimate glory: recognition as the 2012 Small Group Olympics Champions. They contorted their bodies in Team Twister; tested their knowledge of YLS public opinion in YLS Family Feud; engaged their creativity in Competitive Crayon Drawing; and struggled across the courtyard in the good ol’ Three-Legged Race. And, of course, they all enjoyed free food and drinks.

The small group structure is at the heart of the Yale Law experience. Around sixteen students in each small group take all the same classes together in the first semester, and have one course in a “small group” seminar with their small group professor. Each small group is named after their small group professor, in my case after Professor Coleman, a top legal philosopher. Small groups are very important from a social perspective: many of my closest friends were in Coleman’s group, too.

After the first semester, we’re set free to take just about any courses we want, with a few requirements—we no longer take all the same classes with the same group of people. To maintain their camaraderie, many small groups have regular reunions. The Small Group Olympics act as a large-scale event to rekindle small group bonds as well as rivalries. The Small Group Olympics also raise money through sponsorships for the Yale Incentive Program for Public Interest Employment (YiPPiE), which supplements YLS summer interest employment funding- most 1Ls and some 2Ls will benefit again from the Olympics in a few months!

Many small groups went all-out to win the Olympics, including making small group t-shirts and inviting their small group professors to win bonus points. In the end, while Professor Burt’s Brigade and my own Team Coleman made a vigorous effort, Kysar’s small group narrowly prevailed, buoyed by the appearance of Professor Kysar himself. After a brief awards ceremony, we all marched out into the night to celebrate our teamwork.