June 25, 2005

Cathy Gellis: Late to the game…

by Guest Contributor

I apologize for the delay in sharing my brilliance with all you De Novo readers. It was a long year and my brain needed a vacation. It didn't get one, but at least I didn't heap on too many new things to do right away. I also thought it would be best not to blog somewhere new until I stood at least a minimal chance of being able to construct prose somewhat competently. But time's running out in the trial period, so here I am nonetheless.

Anyway, now that I am here, I should introduce myself. I'm Cathy, a rising 3L at Boston University. I normally blog at the ineptly-anonymous site www.cathygellis.com, "The Great Change: Turning Cathy into a Lawyer." My favorite legal topics include intellectual property policy and generally any area of law where technology and civil liberties collide. I also love to travel and consequently have become very interested in international law as well. Before law school I was a UC Berkeley undergrad and a webmaster for seven years, I grew up in New Jersey, and I have a weakness for Huey Lewis and the News concerts. I also like candle-lit dinners and long walks on the beach.

Oh wait. Wrong website. Sorry.

(It's also not true about liking candle-lit dinners – I prefer to see what I'm eating, and, normally, with whom I'm eating it. I do like beaches though. Walking's nice too. And Huey Lewis and the News are a *great* band. But I digress...)

So I thought I'd make my opening volley something light: what do you call your professors?

At BU we usually call our professors "Professor [LASTNAME]." In return, particularly in 1L classes, they call us "Mr. or Ms. [SOME MISPRONUNCIATION OF OUR LAST NAME BECAUSE THE ACOUSTICS ARE BAD AND THEY CAN'T HEAR US CALL IT OUT NOR GUESS INTUITIVELY FROM THE CLASS ROSTER]." In the second and third year classes professors sometimes call us by our first names. This happens mostly in seminars, and in conversations outside of class, although I had one professor who calls us by our first names in a lecture class. Although he's new, a young, hip, happening prof and possibly a harbinger of BU professors to come.

But last semester I had two visiting professors from other schools where the norm is that everyone is called by their first names. Students and faculty. They came to class and said we could call them by their first names. But none of us did. We couldn't. It felt sort of wrong somehow. Law school (at least for us) is a formal place, and breaking down that formality while within the context of the formal teacher-student relationship just didn't compute.

On the other hand, I wonder if I will forever call any of my professors "Professor [LASTNAME]." One of my BU profs had once introduced herself by her first name to me the first time I met her, well before I was in one of her classes. "I'm [FIRSTNAME]," she said. "But in class, I'm Professor [LASTNAME]." I decided I was too nervous about making the inevitable faux pas when I used the wrong name, so by policy I've decided not to use firstnames until I have my JD in hand. Then we'll see, because I'm sure there's some profs who will always remain "Professor [LASTNAME]" to me.

June 25, 2005 01:59 PM | TrackBack

By the way, its nice to meet you Cathy!

Posted by: Sean Sirrine at June 25, 2005 03:34 PM
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