Responding to the Tragedies in Las Vegas and Puerto Rico

We extend our deepest sympathies and expression of support to our students from Las Vegas and all BU Law alumni who live and work there. The mass shooting that killed more than 50 people attending an outdoor concert on Sunday evening has shocked and saddened the entire BU Law community. Our Student Affairs Office is reaching out to individual students from the Las Vegas area to offer resources and assistance.

We also send our thoughts and prayers to all members of the BU Law community and their families who have suffered so much during this year’s hurricane season. Many of us watched San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a BU alum of the College of Arts & Sciences, deliver a heart-wrenching plea for more assistance for the island that is still largely without power. This week, we are encouraging the BU Law community to support the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico by making a contribution or writing to legislators. I have pledged to match student donations up to $1,000.

It certainly seems inadequate to offer thoughts and prayers and frustrating to feel so helpless in light of so much suffering. Moreover, our efforts are always under-inclusive: Mexico remains devastated by an earthquake, the US Virgin Islands by Hurricane Maria, and many other nations outside our hemisphere by natural disasters and terrorist events. At the same time, we cannot allow the overwhelming nature of tragedies around the globe deter us from focusing particularly on those that hit closest to home. It is difficult to fathom the anguish that the residents of Puerto Rico and Las Vegas are experiencing right now. We will do what we can to help, and continue to train the next generation of lawyers knowing that they will bring the same care and concern to their clients and the world that they show daily for their colleagues at BU Law.

Honoring ‘Singing Professor’ Mark Pettit

Professor Mark PettitProfessor Mark Pettit, known to many generations of BU Law students as the “Singing Professor,” is taking a leave of absence this semester while he is being treated for cancer. As a tribute to him, we are asking alumni to email lawalum@bu.edu to submit their recollections of his song lyrics and other memories for a scrapbook that we’re compiling for him.

Professor Pettit, who has served on our faculty for the past 40 years, has taught thousands of law students in the areas of contracts, evidence, and consumer law. In 1993, he was recognized with a Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest teaching honor for faculty at BU.

But for many of you who have taken his contracts classes, you might recall the Pettit song classics, “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Nose,” “Breach It,” “Smoke Ballin’” and “Statute of Frauds.”

We have missed Professor Pettit’s inimitable teaching style this semester. He has been a dedicated faculty member who has been educating and entertaining law students for four decades. Please feel free to send your thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement to Professor Pettit at mpettit@bu.edu. And enjoy this performance by a group of our current students who wanted to pay tribute to the legendary Singing Professor with a song of their own.

Responding to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

We extend our deepest sympathies and expression of support to our students and alumni in Texas, who are being affected by Hurricane Harvey. The massive flooding in the Texas coast including Houston caused by this torrential storm is displacing thousands of people from their homes. We are reaching out to all of our students from Texas and will continue to monitor the situation there.

While we can’t always predict when or where a disaster of this magnitude is going to strike, we can always extend our support and sympathy to those who have been affected by it. On behalf of the BU Law community, we send our thoughts and prayers to all the residents of the Gulf Coast and to their friends and family members. Likewise, we extend our best wishes and deepest gratitude to first responders and rescue workers, and pray for their safety. Finally, as the long road to recovery begins, we will look for ways to assist.

Updated September 6:
In response to questions about how we can best support Houston-area law school communities, please consider donating to the funds below.

Please indicate that your gift is for the Hurricane Harvey Funds.

Updated September 11:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, we are thinking about our alumni in the southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean islands, and reaching out to all of our students from the affected areas. Like Hurricane Harvey, this storm has caused significant destruction and displacement for many people. We hope that everyone has been able to stay safe during these storms and is able to prepare for future ones.

We are also thinking about our alumni and students from Mexico in the wake of the devastating earthquake there. We wish them safety in the aftershocks and during rebuilding and extend our deepest sympathies to all who have lost loved ones in these most recent natural disasters.

Advancing Justice Since Day One

Wall Mural at BU LawSince our law school was founded in 1872, many of our graduates have distinguished themselves as public servants working tirelessly to advance justice and as legal pioneers fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised. In honor of a select group of these alumni, we have installed an 11’ x 25’ mural on the second floor of the Redstone building that depicts 11 graduates whose careers personify this theme of advancing justice. This floor-to-ceiling illustration by artist Daniel Hertzberg is located just outside McCausland Commons.

I invite you to visit the law school and see the mural in person. Its vibrant colors reflect the optimistic energy of the law school community and the diversity of the generations of students who have been educated at BU Law. It is also a visible reminder of the efforts of our alumni over the past two centuries to work toward the advancement of justice and equality.

The mural was installed on August 18, less than a week after the tragic events in Charlottesville revealed how much work we still have left to do on this front. I hope that the stories of the alumni pictured in the illustration can provide inspiration for all of us. Some of them include:

Emanuel Hewlett (Class of 1877), the first African American graduate of BU Law stood before the US Supreme Court in 1896 and argued that his client, an African American man charged with murder had received an unfair trial because the state uniformly excluded African Americans from serving on juries. More than a century later, Justice O. Rogeriee Thompson (Class of 1976), the first African American to serve on the US First Circuit Court of Appeals, vigorously dissented in a 2011 case that granted police officers qualified immunity to search all members of a mostly Hispanic visiting soccer team for items allegedly missing from a white home team’s locker room.

Lelia Robinson (Class of 1881), the first woman to graduate from BU Law, was denied admission to the Massachusetts bar because of her gender, but successfully lobbied the state legislature in 1882 to pass a bill authorizing women to take the bar exam and practice law in court. It wasn’t until the 21st century, however, that Massachusetts elected its first female attorney general Martha Coakley (Class of 1979).

The ideals of a free and democratic society require constant effort to maintain. For nearly 150 years, our alumni have been working to advance justice and ensure that all members of our society benefit from the rights enshrined in our US Constitution.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017, Reunion Classes, and Award Recipients!

May and early June have been busy at BU Law. We celebrated Commencement in May and reunion classes from the 5th to the 50th and beyond in June. We concluded our reunion activities with a gala dinner at which we honored alumni and one staff member for their contributions to the School of Law, community, and profession.

Commencement

BU Law Commencement 2017On May 21, the School of Law graduated 216 JD students and 246 LLM students at a ceremony marked by the optimism for the future that new graduates inspire each year. We owe particular thanks to our Commencement speaker, Boston Red Sox CEO/president emeritus Larry Lucchino (Hon.’08), who gave our new graduates terrific advice. Mr. Lucchino told the graduates to be versatile in their careers because their legal training would be applicable “to a wide spectrum of task, jobs, and roles,” and then pointed to himself as “Exhibit A.” Peppering his remarks with anecdotes from his student days at Yale Law School and his early years in legal practice, he encouraged the Class of 2017 to pursue their own unique paths:

No one in the history of mankind has ever had your exact set of abilities, your same attributes, your talents and tastes and urges. None occupied the identical point in time or space so none can share your particular point of view. No one sees as you see, hears as you hear, feels your emotions, and thinks your thoughts. The road your life takes has never been travelled before. 

New Graduates Begin Their Careers

Our graduates will be pursuing many different opportunities. At this time, about 70 percent of our newest JD alumni have secured their first post-graduation positions. Many of our 2017 graduates will begin their careers with law firms—in Boston, Bridgeport, Grand Rapids, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Providence, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan, and Washington, DC, to name a few. Others will shortly begin work in-house at companies including Ernst & Young, General Electric (GE), KPMG, PwC, RSM, and State Street Corp.

A number of new JD graduates will be engaged in public service—joining, for example, public defenders’ offices in Los Angeles and Miami, and district attorneys’ offices in the Bronx and Santa Clara County. Other graduates have secured judicial clerkships at the state supreme courts of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, and the US Bankruptcy Court (MA).

Four graduates will begin post-graduate fellowships with the US Department of Justice, Equal Justice Works, and GE. They will be working for the Port Isabel Immigration Court in Texas, the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, Kids in Need of Defense in Boston, and GE’s Legal Counsel department. Additionally, six graduates have been awarded BU Law Public Service Fellowships to work at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (MA), Center for Reproductive Rights (NY), Asylum Access Malaysia, Health Law Advocates (MA), and CARB-X (MA).

If you have openings in your organization, please do let us know by e-mailing lawcdo@bu.edu. We have terrific new alumni who are seeking their first pathway into the profession, and there are no better mentors than our alumni!

Reunion and the Silver Shingle Awards

June 9–11 was Reunion Weekend at the School of Law. The events included tours of the school, class-specific cocktail receptions, and the Silver Shingle Awards. We were honored to present Silver Shingle Awards to Bob Butler (LLB’55), Service to the School; Annapoorni Sankaran (’95), Service to the Profession; and Veronica Serrato (88), Service to the Community. We also presented Kevin Saunders (’07) with the Young Lawyers Chair, and Alissa Leonard, our assistant dean for admissions & financial aid, with the Gerard H. Cohen Award.

BU Law's 2017 Silver Shingle Awardees

Left to right: Alissa Leonard, Annapoorni R. Sankaran (’95), Kevin M. Saunders (’07), Robert T. Butler (LLB’55), Dean Maureen O’Rourke, Veronica Serrato (’88)

Visit our website to read more about the event and browse photos from the weekend.

Congratulations again to all, and best wishes for the summer!