Meeting the Class of 2020

At this time of year, I have the opportunity to meet many of our admitted students and alumni at receptions hosted by law firms and companies around the country. In the past few weeks, I’ve joined with our alumni to welcome admitted students at receptions hosted by Choate Hall & Stewart LLP here in Boston, as well as Coach, Inc. in New York City. Later this week, I’ll be in Los Angeles to meet with students and alumni at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

I am grateful to each of these organizations for hosting our events and hiring our students. When the future members of our law school community join us later this month for BU Law Admitted Student Preview Days, they will have an opportunity to experience everything that BU Law has to offer.

Before they arrive, most of them will already know that The Princeton Review has again ranked our faculty #1 on its list of “Best Professors.” While these external rankings vary annually, our commitment to making BU Law the best place to be a law student remains constant.

It’s why we continue to introduce new programs like our Lawyering Skills Program, in which first-year students will take courses that simulate real-world legal disputes in order to gain hands-on training in legal research and writing, oral advocacy, contract drafting, negotiation, and client counseling. It’s also why we hire top faculty like Associate Professor Ahmed Ghappour, a cybersecurity expert and visiting assistant professor at UC-Hastings Law, who will be joining us in the fall.

Last year, we welcomed a first-year class of 257 students from a pool of more than 4,800 applicants. At this point, we are on pace to exceed last year’s number of applicants. Thank you for all you do to help us recruit the students who will one day join the outstanding community of BU Law alumni!

Welcoming the World’s Intellectual Property Scholars to BU Law

Boston University School of Law has long been known for its excellence in intellectual property law. We have some of the country’s most respected IP scholars on our faculty, a program that is regularly ranked in the Top 10 by U.S. News & World Report, and two clinics with MIT in our Entrepreneurship, Intellectual Property & Cyberlaw Program.

This year, we will award the first Michael Fricklas and Donna Astion Prize in Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law to one or more deserving students with a research interest in either or both of these fields. We are grateful to Michael Fricklas (LAW ’84) and his wife Donna Astion (SAR ’82) for endowing this prize.

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Professors of Law Michael Meurer and Paul Gugliuzza

On February 10–11, BU Law will host the Works in Progress Intellectual Property Colloquium. This conference features more than 80 presentations by scholars from around the world on all facets of IP law, ranging from product design protection to the patent/health law intersection to the scope and limits of software copyright. WIPIP was co-founded by Professor Michael Meurer, and Professor Paul Gugliuzza is chair-elect of the Organizing Board.

On February 24, the Journal of Science & Technology Law will hold its symposium, “Bridging the Gap Between the Federal Courts and the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.” This day-long event will explore the impact of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) on the relationship between the federal courts and the administrative bodies tasked with implementing the AIA.

In March, BU Law will kick off its 2017 Intellectual Property Speaker Series. We will hear presentations from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Professor Peter DiCola, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Co-Directors Molly von Houweling and Peter Menell, Burns & Levinson LLP Partner Stephen Chow, and Northwestern University JD-PhD fellow Erik Hovenkamp.

We are honored to welcome many of the world’s top intellectual property scholars to BU Law this semester. And we look forward to hearing their thoughts on legal developments in the IP field.

Balancing the Values that Make Us Uniquely American with the Need to Protect Ourselves from Terrorism

As Dean, I have always viewed it as my role to remain as politically neutral as possible. Regardless of what party is in power, I will always stand for the Constitution and the values it represents. This country has been very good to me: I don’t think that there are so many countries in the world where the daughter of parents who were not college graduates and the granddaughter of immigrants (on my mother’s side) could become the dean of a top-tier law school. While it has never been perfect, through the great arc of history, it has always felt like we were moving toward fuller realization of our constitutional vision.

After September 11, 2001, we became painfully aware of an irony—the very freedoms that we take for granted like the freedom to travel and the relative openness of our borders can be used against us in the most heinous ways. Particularly since that time, we have been struggling to balance the values that make us uniquely American with the need to protect ourselves from terrorism. I have no doubt about two things: (1) that the President of the United States, regardless of party, views keeping the nation secure as an extraordinarily high (if not the highest) priority; and (2)  if any one of us were to see the daily threat matrix put together by the intelligence agencies, our hair would very quickly turn gray.

With all that said, though, I have to ask, if we betray our fundamental values in the name of safety, in the end, what will we have gained? How do we know when we have gone too far?

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Google’s search page on Monday, January 30, 2017 featured Fred Koramatsu.

Last Friday’s Executive Order concerned me for many reasons. Suffice it to say that regardless of whether the President has the power to make such changes in this way, it struck me as new policy that disregards the lessons of history in a potentially very dangerous way. There is a reason that Google today has Fred Korematsu on its front search page. Enough said for now.

There are certainly lessons here for lawyers. The one that springs to my mind is to think before you act and also think before you react. Get the facts. Consider the ramifications of your actions before you take them. Then re-think. This is particularly important if you ever have the chance to act on an international stage. There’s an old saying, “America sneezes, and the world catches a cold.” In my most recent international trip in October, when I visited alumni, they had two comments that I found quite interesting, both of which were expressed matter-of-factly, not with a partisan hue. The first was, “When was America not great?” and the second was, “You always under-estimate how much the rest of the world depends on a stable United States.”

Jack Beermann, Gary Lawson, Jay Wexler, and Karen Pita Loor spoke at the Faculty Insights on the Trump Administration event last week.

Jack Beermann, Gary Lawson, Jay Wexler, and Karen Pita Loor spoke at the Faculty Insights on the Trump Administration event last week.

We will continue to announce various panels (like the one we held last Friday) that will address some of the legal aspects of both this and other controversies. For many of you that will seem like not enough; for others, too much. In the meantime, maybe think back to your own experience with immigration. Unless you are a Native American, there are immigrants in your family. What are their stories?

My maternal grandmother came to the United States from Austria-Hungary (now Slovenia) around the time of World War I. I don’t know if she’d be considered a refugee under today’s standards. I do know that it took 2–3 months to arrive here and most of that time was spent in steerage. It was also a time when you had to have a job lined up and a sponsor before you could enter the US. Her uncle in Bridgeport, CT was her sponsor. When she arrived, she knew three English words—“coffee” and “apple pie.” She taught herself English from the newspaper. Eventually, she moved to Poughkeepsie where she worked in a button factory. She had three children, one of whom died around the age of 3. My mother and my uncle—who served in the United States Navy in World War II—spent their lives making sure their children had more opportunities than they did. When my grandmother died at the age of 92, she still spoke English with an accent. I’ve mourned my mom for the last year but I know whenever I look in the mirror, I see her and my grandmother, and I wish I had their strength and courage. I like to think it added something to our country.

These issues are not simple. They never are. But remember what I told you at orientation, “The law is a noble profession.” You will have the ability to help us come closer to our constitutional vision. Never forget that and never stop believing that a democratic system of checks and balances can work. You will have the opportunity to see that it does.

Paying Tribute to Our Active Military and Veterans

Next week will be an important week for our country as we elect a new President of the United States. While Election Day looms large, I encourage us to reflect on what follows three days later—Veterans Day. At BU Law, we support our students who are veterans through the Yellow Ribbon Program, and educate law students preparing to enter the service as military lawyers.

Billy Wilson ('18)

Billy Wilson (’18)

Among our current students are veterans Billy Wilson (’18) and Kenneth Meador (’18). Billy served nine years in the Marines as a helicopter pilot who flew missions in Afghanistan and the South Pacific. As a 2L student, he is active in the BU Veterans Association, as well as the International Law Society, Legal Follies, and Older Wiser Law Students (OWLS).

Kenneth enlisted in the US Army in 2002 and served three tours in Iraq as a combat medic before returning home to Oklahoma to attend college on the GI Bill. After his first year at BU Law, he earned a prestigious Rappaport Fellowship, which enabled him to complete a summer internship at the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services.

Kenneth Meador ('18)

Kenneth Meador (’18)

Many of our alumni have served our country, and we have been honored to recognize several of them with Silver Shingle Awards: US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert P. Chatham (’99), US Navy Lieutenant Commander Jacob Romelhardt (’05), and US Army Reserve Major General (ret.) Stephen D. Tom (’74).

Lt. Colonel Chatham is the staff judge advocate for the19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. In his most recent deployment to Afghanistan, he earned the Bronze Star for his work with the Afghan Ministry of Justice, Attorney General, and Supreme Court, as well as the US Embassy, United Nations, and European Union, to rebuild the rule of law in that war-torn country.

Jacob Romelhardt (’05)

US Navy Lieutenant Commander Jacob Romelhardt (’05)

Lt. Commander Romelhardt is the staff judge advocate for a major naval operation in San Diego, where he trains aircraft carrier strike groups in international law and rules of engagement. During his 11-year naval career, he has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, taught at the US Naval Academy, and served as criminal defense counsel in military court.

While on active duty, Major General Tom (ret.) was stationed with the US Pacific Command in Honolulu, where he served as commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a US Defense Department joint task force with the mission of accounting for Americans listed as prisoners of war or missing in action from past wars and conflicts.

We are honored that BU Law has educated both former and past members of the military. And we say thank you to all veterans for their service to our country.

Eight Judges in Two Weeks. What a Way to Start the School Year!

It has been a busy September with many distinguished members of the judiciary paying a visit to BU Law. We have been privileged to welcome eight judges to the law school in just the past two weeks.

Dean O'Rourke with Army JAG Judges

Lt. Col. Wolfe, Col. Mulligan, Dean O’Rourke, and Col. Febbo

Individual justices have joined us for book talks, a major conference, and meetings with our students, while the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals held an actual hearing in our Schell-O’Connor Moot Courtroom. Presiding over the case of United States v. Bostick were Colonel Michael Mulligan, Colonel Anthony Febbo, and Lieutentant Colonel Stefan Wolfe. After the hearing, the justices held a Q&A with our students and spoke with them during a reception in Barristers Hall.

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Judge Robert L. Wilkins, who was instrumental in the effort to build the National Museum of African American History and Culture, spoke at BU Law just a few days before the September 24 opening of the museum on the National Mall. He recounted the century-long endeavor to establish the museum and his motivation for writing his book, The Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100-Year Mission to Establish the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Prior to Judge Wilkins’ talk, Justice Robert J. Cordy, a recently retired member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, talked about his international work with judges in Russia and Turkey to establish independent judiciaries in those countries. His comments came during a panel discussion of a new book by BU Law Professor Robert Sloane and Tufts University Professor Robert Glennon, Foreign Affairs Federalism: The Myth of National Exclusivity. Professor Glennon has deep ties to BU Law, having served as the William & Patricia Kleh Visiting Professor of International Law just last year.

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Dean O’Rourke with Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers (’83)

We were also fortunate to host three judges who are graduates of BU Law.

Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers (’83), took time out of her busy schedule to have lunch with BU Law students in the law tower. The next day at our annual alumni awards ceremony, I was honored to present her with a Silver Shingle for Service to the Profession.

Judge Herman J. Smith, Jr. (’74) gave an invited talk at BU Law about his experience as an African-American judge and the interplay between the law and his Christian faith. He served as a Massachusetts Superior Court judge from 1994 to 2012 and a clinical associate professor at BU Law from 1979 to 1990.

And Massachusetts District Court Associate Justice Michael Vitali (’98) returned to campus for a conference honoring the 50th anniversary of the seminal Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. He joined another BU Law alum, Mark Schamel (’98), who is a trial attorney in Washington, DC, and FBI Special Agent Peter Kowenhoven for a panel discussion moderated by Connecticut Senior Assistant State Attorney Russell Zentner (’89).

To stay up to date on all of the events happening at BU Law, please check our Events Calendar.