A Community Committed to Public Service

BU Law's 2018 Shapiro Lecture, presented by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson emphasized public service in his 2018 Shapiro Lecture.

We recently welcomed Bryan Stevenson to BU Law to deliver the annual Max M. Shapiro Lecture. A noted public interest attorney, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author of Just Mercy, Stevenson spoke to our community about his efforts to seek justice for inmates on death row. His inspiring work brought to mind the importance of emphasizing public service in all areas of the law.

The BU Law community is deeply committed to public service. From our Public Interest Scholarships to our Pro Bono program and the great work our clinics do to support indigent clients in need of legal counsel, the opportunities for our students to use their legal training to serve the common good are everywhere. This week, as part of our Spring Break Pro Bono Service Trips program, students are traveling to Jena, Louisiana to work with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, to Detroit, Michigan to work with Michigan Legal Services, and to Puerto Rico to serve with Ayuda Legal Huracán María, an organization helping islanders recover from last year’s devastating hurricane. Other students are volunteering locally or with organizations in their home states.

Our support for public service work doesn’t end at graduation. Every year we award a small number of Public Service Fellowships to new graduates working in the public sector. The funding we provide extends for a full year, helping the fellowship recipients launch their public service careers. Alumni have been instrumental in helping to fund this program as well as our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). Young alumni (10 or fewer years since graduation) working in public service may apply for LRAP funds to help them pay their educational debt.

Each spring, we highlight the important work of an alum in government service in the District of Columbia with the DC Public Service Award. I was delighted to honor Charles Curtis (’65) with this year’s award. Charlie has had a long and distinguished career in both public and private practice, spending years with the Department of Energy before becoming founding president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit organization devoted to advancing nuclear security. Similarly, each fall we honor an alum with the Victor J. Garo Public Service Award. This fall, we recognized Hon. Ronald E. Richter, who dedicated his career to serving children and families as a judge on the New York State Family Court as well as with the Jewish Child Care Association.

It is my hope that, like these alumni, BU Law students will carry the lessons they learn about the importance of public service throughout their careers. The good they do as students, and continue to do as alumni, embodies the best of BU Law and the ideals of the legal profession.

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