Asking the Troubling Questions That Weigh on Our Minds

At a time of year when our law school community feels the inevitable tension and anxiety associated with final exams, many of us are also grappling with grief, anger and exasperation over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City, and the subsequent grand jury decisions in those cases.

Last night, I had the opportunity to join with students, faculty and staff who came together to speak candidly about these events and to ask the troubling questions that have weighed on our minds about the justice system, racial bias, and the grand jury process. I heard students share their personal concerns, express their sadness and frustration, and wonder aloud: “What can I do?”.

At BU Law, we are committed to not just teaching you the law, but helping you to take that knowledge into the real world, where you can use it to fight injustice, advocate for your clients, and create better laws for our society. You have those opportunities now in many of our clinics and externships, and in a number of our student organizations. We recognize that there are more opportunities to engage and will continue to execute programs and community discussions.

As I mentioned, we are planning to create a law school task force to provide input into initiatives to help address any unmet student needs while also providing opportunities for personal growth and professional competency development as it relates to diversity and social responsibility.

In the meantime, let us continue this important dialogue about the difficult issues that the cases in Ferguson and New York have raised for us both as lawyers and as active citizens.

BU Law in the Big Apple

In mid-November, I traveled to New York City with Assistant Dean for Career Development & Public Service Fiona Hornblower and Assistant Dean for Development & Alumni Relations Terry McManus to continue meeting with alumni and employers in major markets across the country. New York City is one of the most sought after destinations for our graduates, so we are always working to deepen our relationships with employers there.

Manhattan skyline at NightWhile in New York, Assistant Dean Hornblower and I had the opportunity to meet with several major law firms to update them on recent developments at the school and discuss how we can best partner with them. I am delighted that Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy plans to return to campus to recruit our students next fall; additionally I look forward to welcoming Milbank partner Jay Grushkin to the law school next spring where he will be a guest lecturer in my Secured Transactions class. I am also thrilled that Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom will be a sponsor for our new 1L Lawyering Lab this coming January.

We continue to work also on expanding opportunities for our students interested in public sector employment. For the second year in a row, we will be participating in the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Program, under which BU Law will fund a student working in an under-resourced public defender’s office for a one-year period. And we look forward to announcing in the near future a matching challenge from the University to ensure post-graduate fellowship funding for the next several years.

Generally, one of our challenges has been developing a database that will serve our students and alumni by allowing our Career Development & Public Service Office to search for alumni by, for example, geographic location and area of practice. To help create that database and to update our information, we are sending out an alumni survey in December. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. I hope you will take the time to fill it out and share your thoughts.

I am happy to report that this year’s issue of our alumni magazine, The Record, will be arriving in mailboxes in the next few weeks. This issue features stories on alumni and their impact on social issues including civil rights and women’s rights in the Middle East. The cover story discusses how BU Law is moving initiatives forward to better prepare students for the practice of law in the 21st century. The magazine will also be available online at bu.edu/law/record2014. If you are not on the mailing list, you can email lawalum@bu.edu to request a copy.

With the opening of the Sumner M. Redstone Building, 2014 has been a very special year at BU Law. Thank you for helping make this long-awaited project a reality and best wishes from all of us at BU Law for a happy holiday season and a wonderful 2015!

California Deanin’

With the dedication of Boston University School of Law’s Redstone Building officially complete and the fall semester well underway, I traveled to California in October to visit alumni and employers. California is the second largest geographic area from which our students come and one of the most common work destinations for our graduates. It is critically important that we strengthen our relationships with the region’s employers and with our alumni who are now living and working out West. Our larger strategy is to continue to work to ensure that our students and alumni have a strong community of professional and social connections associated with BU Law. Each day, we see examples of how this community makes a difference, particularly in this challenging and evolving employment environment.

Accompanied by Fiona Hornblower, Assistant Dean for Career Development & Public Service, I visited leading employers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley. I shared with them how we are preparing our students to graduate from BU Law with both the critical knowledge and lawyering skills that they need to be effective attorneys in a rapidly evolving legal environment. I was proud to update them on several of BU Law’s initiatives, including our 1L Lawyering Lab, our online Business Fundamentals course, and our Accelerated 3-Year JD/MBA degree program. In return, the firms gave us their thoughts on how we could partner with them to make our students even more competitive for the most coveted positions.

Myself, Assistant Dean Fiona Hornblower, and Nate O'Connell from the BU Law Alumni Office

Myself, Fiona Hornblower, and Nate O’Connell

While in California, I had the opportunity to meet individually with some alumni in the area and also to attend two alumni receptions. Jonathan Zepp (’01), Director of Entertainment Content Partnerships for YouTube hosted a reception at the Google/YouTube offices in Beverly Hills. In San Francisco, BU Law alumni gathered at the Aventine Parlor Bar. It was wonderful to hear how our alums are applying their law school educations and tapping into the BU Law alumni network throughout their careers. I also heard a lot of positive feedback about the Sumner M. Redstone Building from West Coast alumni who were in town for reunion. I hope that all of our alumni will be able to make a trip to Boston to tour our new building!

Alumni at our San Francisco reception

Alumni at our San Francisco reception

My trip to California was a great way to reconnect with and learn more from our alums in that great state. Our goal is to build formal alumni networks on the West Coast like we have in New York, Washington DC, and Chicago.

I hope that all of our alumni, regardless of location, will be ambassadors for BU Law with their employers. Please do connect with the Career Development & Public Service Office (lawcdo@bu.edu) to learn how you can help strengthen the BU Law network for students and alumni. Please also keep an eye out for the new Alumni Survey, which you should receive soon—and complete it so we can continue to serve you better!

I am now looking forward to traveling to New York November 4 – 6 for more employer and alumni visits. It can’t all be sunshine and palm trees!

Dedicating the Sumner M. Redstone Building & Welcoming the Future of BU Law

Heartfelt thanks to all of our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends who joined us at the dedication of the new Sumner M. Redstone building and at Alumni Weekend events. It turns out I wasn’t the only one excited about the new building—over 300 people came to the building dedication to celebrate its official opening!

Richard Godfrey ('79), Jacquelyn Rex ('15), President Brown, Judge Lynch ('71), Daniel Koh, and myself at the ribbon-cutting

Richard Godfrey (’79), Jacquelyn Rex (’15), President Brown, Judge Lynch (’71), Daniel Koh, and myself at the ribbon-cutting

The event was the culmination of all of the generosity and support that has poured in from the University and our alumni and friends. Each and every individual who has helped us get to this point has contributed not only to this beautiful new building, but also to the transformation of our school.

Special thanks, of course, to Sumner M. Redstone. His generosity is a tremendous vote of confidence in BU Law, and we have no intention of letting him down.

We were thrilled to have First Circuit Chief Judge Sandra Lynch (’71) with us to speak about the importance of legal education. Judge Lynch compared the remarks made by then Supreme Judicial Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes and Chief Justice Earl Warren at the prior dedications of buildings at Ashburton Place and Commonwealth Avenue. As she emphasized, one constant is the importance of legal education in upholding our democratic system and BU Law’s role in graduating future leaders of the nation and, indeed, the world.

President Brown spoke about what the new building means to Boston University, telling the audience that our school stands “at the center—the heart—of the University.” We are also thankful to Mayor Marty Walsh and his chief of staff, Daniel Koh, for proclaiming September 19th Sumner Redstone Day in the City of Boston.

Richard C. Godfrey (’79) emphasized the significance of the event, saying, “This is a once in a generation moment. This is the place where we will teach students what the law is, and what justice is. . . . [And] [n]ow we have a law facility that supports the aspirations of our students and the incredible faculty we have at the School.”

Jacquelyn Rex (’15) also spoke at the dedication, telling alumni and friends what the new building means to our students and how they have been using the new spaces. Since students arrived on campus last month, they have been enjoying the brand new classrooms, the café and lounge, and all of the new gathering spaces.

Christine Marx, Dan Rubinstein, Lt. Commander Jacob Romelhardt, Linda Skinner, Irving Picard, and myself.

Christine Marx, Dan Rubinstein, Lt. Commander Jacob Romelhardt, Linda Skinner, Irving Picard, and myself.

On Saturday night we packed the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for our Annual Reunion Gala Dinner and Silver Shingle Awards Presentation. As always, our award winners were outstanding representatives of the best of the legal profession and BU Law. See the Silver Shingle Alumni Awards recap for their bios.

I am thrilled to see the students enjoying all of the new spaces and am looking forward to a spectacular first year in this new building. I hope you will make time for a visit when your schedules allow.

Celebrating the Brand New Sumner M. Redstone Building

The wait is over—the Sumner M. Redstone Building is officially open! That’s a statement that we have been waiting to exclaim for over 20 years now, and it feels wonderful to finally be able to say it!IMG_1449

We’ve spent the last year watching with anticipation as the Skanska construction team erected the building, and put the final touches on it so we could open in time for fall semester classes. The furniture is now in place, the classrooms are equipped with all the right technology, and the new lockers are ready to hold the students’ heavy law books. You might have seen some photos of the building on our social media sites, but as you’ll find out, the building is even more beautiful in person.

From the bright and open atrium, to the beautiful views of the Charles River, to the brand new Student Commons and café, this is a whole new BU Law, and we can’t wait for our community to see it!

We constructed this building as part of our “Thinking Forward” initiative to revitalize our legal education—and that’s exactly what it was designed to do. With its state-of-the-art classrooms, spacious study areas and gathering spaces, the building not only gives students the physical facility that will enhance their education, but it will make the BU Law community stronger.

REDSTONEThis summer, we’ve seen prospective students tour the building and some of our current students coming by to wander through it. We’ve even seen some of our recent graduates come back to use the new spaces to study for the bar exam. We hope it brought them luck!

We’ve been dreaming of this day for over two decades so you can understand why we can’t wait to show it off. We will be hosting the dedication ceremony at the Redstone Building on September 19th at 2:30 pm as part of Boston University’s Alumni Weekend. I’d like to invite our students, alumni, and all members of the BU Law community to join us for this momentous event that marks the transformation of our campus and of our school. It’s an important milestone in our school’s rich history, and I hope you can join us.