Delivering BU Law’s Educational Offerings to a Global Audience

In collaboration with BU’s Digital Learning Initiative, we have just launched our first MOOC (massive open online course) in Legal Risk Management for Multinational Enterprises. Developed and taught by Babak Boghraty (’89), an instructor in both our Executive LLM in International Business Law Program and our JD program, this course meets CLE requirements in a number of states.

I encourage our alumni and their colleagues who represent companies doing business overseas to consider registering for the course. It is designed for a wide audience of lawyers, accountants, and other professionals involved in transnational business operations to learn how to identify, analyze, and manage legal risk in the global marketplace.

At BU Law, we are increasingly using technology to offer law courses to our own students, as well as working professionals interested in legal topics. We are focusing our first MOOC on compliance because it is a fast-growing field with significant demand in the US and abroad. Additionally, our Executive LLM Program has just added a new concentration in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance offered entirely online in conjunction with the Master of Science in Administrative Studies program at BU’s Metropolitan College (MET).

With the launch of our MOOC and other online programs, we continue to find ways to use new technologies to deliver our educational offerings to an increasingly global audience of students.

In 2011, we launched a first-of-its-kind Executive LLM Program in International Business Law, where students learn in a blended format of residential and online courses. In 2012, our Graduate Tax Program launched a fully online enrollment option. We now offer 25 online tax courses, with over 80 students enrolled in the online program.

Beginning with the JD class that entered just this fall, all students are required to take or test out of an online Introduction to Business Fundamentals class. We developed this course because of feedback we heard from alumni at a 2013 retreat that stressed the importance of basic business knowledge for all new lawyers, regardless of practice area or setting.

Regardless of where you work or live, a BU Law course is now only a click away on your computer or tablet!

Dedicating Our New Law Library and Celebrating Our Alumni’s Accomplishments

Matthew Lee ('16), former BU Law Dean William Schwartz, Samuel Fineman, myself, and President Brown

Matthew Lee (’16), former BU Law Dean William Schwartz, Samuel Fineman, myself, and President Brown

Thank you to all of our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends who joined us last month for a very special Reunion & Alumni Weekend. More than 100 visitors toured the newly renovated law tower, marveling at the transformation of our law school’s 50-year-old home. Fittingly, we paid homage that day to our law school’s distinguished history with the dedication of the Samuel M. Fineman Law Library in honor of former BU Law Dean William Schwartz and his wife Bernice.

At the ceremony, Samuel Fineman (JD’72, LLM ’87) recalled how he had first met Dean Schwartz (DGE’52, LAW’55, GRS’60) when he was a first-year law student, and how that first meeting turned into a lifelong friendship. As I listened to Sam express his admiration for Bill and Bernice Schwartz, I felt privileged to share the stage with the man who served BU Law as a professor for 25 years and as dean from 1980 to 1988.

Dean Schwartz speaking to the crowd

Dean Schwartz at the Fineman Library Dedication

In his remarks, Dean Schwartz recalled his days as a BU Law student and faculty member when the school was still located on Beacon Hill, and the excitement of the law school community when it first moved to BU’s Charles River campus. At the time, the tower housed both the Schools of Law and Education, with separate entrances and elevators for each. Today, we have Dean Schwartz to thank for convincing former BU President John Silber that the law school should occupy the entire tower.

Our student speaker, Matthew Lee (’16), thanked Sam Fineman for his generous gift to the law school and spoke about the importance of the new library to all of our students. BU President Robert Brown likened our law library to a crucial building tool that will help our students and faculty pursue critical legal scholarship.

President Brown, Christopher Strang ('05), Lt Col Robert Chatham ('95), Delida Costin ('95), Therese Enders, and myself

President Brown, Christopher Strang (’05), Lt Col Robert Chatham (’95), Delida Costin (’95), Therese Enders, and myself

On Saturday night, we held our Reunion Gala and Silver Shingle Awards Ceremony at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. I was honored to present the Young Lawyer’s Chair to Christopher Strang (’05), founding partner at Strang, Scott, Giroux & Young, and the Gerard H. Cohen Award to Therese Enders, senior program coordinator for our Office of Clinical and Advocacy Programs. After dinner, I was delighted to present Silver Shingles to USAF Lt. Colonel Robert Chatham (’95) for Service to the Community, and to former Pandora and General Counsel Delida Costin (’95) for Service to the Profession.

Silver Shingle Awards at the Museum of Fine Arts

Silver Shingle Awards at the Museum of Fine Arts

I was particularly grateful to be able to honor President Brown with a Silver Shingle for Service to the School. He was instrumental in planning and financing our new home, convincing Sumner Redstone to make the lead gift, and ensuring that the university provided the resources that were needed to transform the law tower into the modern law school facility that it is now.

At the moment that I thought the awards presentation was complete, I was sincerely surprised and deeply touched when President Brown announced that the law school was presenting me with a Silver Shingle for Service to the School. It is an honor for which I am very grateful, and one that I accept on behalf of every member of the BU Law community who has helped make the law school the outstanding institution that it is today.

Our Beautiful New Law School

We have reopened the law tower after a total renovation, and it looks beautiful! From the completely refurbished Barristers Hall on the 1st floor to the modern classrooms on the 4th floor, from the spacious courtrooms on the 6th and 7th floors to the sleek career development interview rooms on the 8th floor, we are still marveling at the transformation of the 50-year-old law tower.

The sixth floor hosts the largest moot courtroom in the complex.

The sixth floor hosts the largest moot courtroom in the complex.

Even the exterior looks brand new: every window has been replaced, all the concrete surfaces have been repaired and cleaned, and the once-faded red and green panels have been restored to their original colors.

Now that the tower has been renovated and “re-attached” to the brand new Sumner M. Redstone Building on the lower five floors, we have a spacious, modern law school that houses all of our classrooms, courtrooms, faculty and administrative offices, law libraries, and law journals.

The Butler Atrium and McCausland Commons have become popular gathering places for students and faculty. And the 15 group study rooms located throughout the law school will provide many options for students preparing for classes and exams in the coming years.

My office is now located on the 11th floor, along with the Development & Alumni Relations Office. And our faculty have moved into their new offices on floors 13-16. I invite you to attend our open house on Friday, September 25 at 11 am to take a tour of our entire law school complex, which encompasses the Redstone Building and the law tower.

I also encourage you to join us that day at 3 pm for the dedication of the Samuel M. Fineman Law Library in honor of former BU Law Dean William Schwartz and his wife Bernice. Our students benefit immensely from being able to study and conduct research in this modern new library.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the fundraising campaign for our new law school facility. We couldn’t have done it without you! I’d also like to recognize the excellent work of the Bruner/Cott architectural firm and the Skanska construction team. They designed and built a beautiful new home for BU Law, which we will enjoy for many years to come.

Best of Luck to the Class of 2015

Thank you to our graduation speaker Senator Edward Markey and our newest alumni and their families and friends for a wonderful Commencement ceremony. The Class of 2015 is the first to graduate from our brand-new building and they have made us proud. For the last three years, they have brought their passion and intellect to their studies at BU Law and to their service of our community.

With their diplomas officially in hand, the Class of 2015 will pursue new opportunities around the country and the world.  I would like to share with you the plans of just a few of our newest alumni.

Many of our graduates will enter into private practice in cities around the globe. While some will remain in Boston and around New England, others will launch their careers in cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Diego. At least one graduate will be providing legal services in the military as a member of the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Others will be working for the federal government in civilian roles in organizations like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

John Travis

John Travis

Several of our new graduates have earned prestigious fellowships. John Travis has been awarded a two-year fellowship from the Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC), which places law graduates with leading nonprofit immigration legal services organizations in New York. He will work with Catholic Charities in Manhattan, primarily on asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, removal defense, and U-visa cases.

Kate Lebeaux

Kate Lebeaux

Kate Lebeaux received a fellowship from the Department of Justice Attorney General’s Honors program, the largest and most prestigious federal entry-level attorney-hiring program of its kind. She will spend two years as a fellow at Boston Immigration Court where she will perform legal research and draft bench memos and decisions for deportation cases for seven immigration judges.

Other members of the Class of 2015 will be working in district attorney and public defender offices around the country in cities like Brooklyn, Miami, West Palm Beach, Manhattan, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas.

As you know, we recently began a fundraising initiative to help fund students to work full-time for a year providing legal services to a non-profit organization or government agency. I can’t thank you enough for your response. As a result of your generosity, eleven students were awarded BU Law Public Service Fellowships:

  • Kyra Berasi – Center for Reproductive Rights, US Policy and Advocacy Program, Washington, DC
  • Dena Birkenkamp, William and Patricia Kleh Fellow – Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, Immigration Law Project, Minneapolis, MN
  • Caitlyn Byers – Disability Law Center, Boston, MA. She is the recipient of the N. Neal Pike Fellowship, which sponsors a fellow to work in the field of disability rights.
  • Margot Finkel, Lisa G. Beckerman Fellow – New York State Attorney General’s Office, Labor Bureau, New York, NY
  • Emily Fridman, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Fellow – Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Malden, MA
  • Danielle Hites, Yanan and Dan Schwartz Fellow – International Justice Resource Center, San Francisco, CA
  • Kerry Sheehan, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Fellow – Public Knowledge, Washington, DC
  • Gillian Stoddard Leatherberry, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Fellow – Legal Aid Society, Employment Law Unit, New York, NY
  • Hannah Tanabe, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Fellow – Greater Boston Legal Services, CORI & Re-Entry Project, Boston, MA
  • Mike Tartaglia – Sixth Amendment Center, Boston, MA
  • Diona Vakili, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Fellow – BU School of Law Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, Boston, MA
  • Nicole Wolfman, Gerard H. Cohen Fellow – Committee for Public Counsel Services, Public Defender Division, Brockton, MA

We look forward to the Class of 2015’s keeping in touch with us and wish them all the best in their new ventures.

From Ferguson to New York to Baltimore: How BU Law Is Responding

The tragic death of Freddie Gray, and the ensuing riots in Baltimore, are affecting our law school community on many levels. A number of our students come from Baltimore and dozens of our alumni live and practice in the city. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to not only uphold the law and put justice and truth at the center of our society, but to be a resource for those struggling to understand how these events continue to happen in the United States.

I am proud that our faculty, staff, and students are taking part in the discussion on social justice and are passionate about responding to, and examining how, the issues evidenced by tragedies and unrest in Ferguson, MO, New York City, and Baltimore affect the entire country, and specifically, the legal profession. These are complex times, and it is the obligation of BU Law to take on that complexity as we prepare students to lead in the legal profession.

This year, the BU Law community came together at a number of events to voice opinions, fears, and questions. BU Law was well represented at university-wide events, such as the “We are Ferguson” discussion hosted by BU Dean of Students Kenn Elmore, “BU #Standtogether,” February’s Black Lives Matter Symposium, and the Vigil for Ferguson held on Marsh Plaza. Our community was present at protests and debates on police accountability; community policing; prosecutorial discretion; and civic responsibility.

The Black Law Students Association hosted the “Know Your Rights” training session in the Redstone Building, and the BU Law ACLU held a dynamic program titled: “Black, Brown, and Targeted: Police Accountability in Boston.” Faculty, staff and students came together for the “Safe Space for Ferguson: Study Break to Break the Silence,” as well as a Legacy Series Forum on “Grand Juries and Race,” addressing prosecutorial discretion, the grand jury process, and federal regulations affecting the process.

In addition to these events, BU Law faculty contributed to the national dialogue with their expertise. Professors Jack Beermann and David Rossman wrote FAQs explaining the grand jury process and federal civil rights statutes to help our community better understand the legal issues in the cases in Ferguson and in New York. Professor Beermann, who was interviewed by the International Business Times about the Ferguson case, opened a class session that featured Assistant US Attorney Theodore Merritt talking about the federal charges that are considered in these types of cases.

Through these efforts, our students and the larger BU community continue to express their concerns and ask the questions weighing on our minds. We will continue to host events to discuss these complex matters. We will continue to challenge and assess the status quo through legal analysis, faculty research and in-class discussions. We will continue to bring national leaders to campus to explore issues of social justice and the role of lawyers as social engineers. And BU Law will continue to engage with the community through our clinics, our externships, our alumni, and our networks to do our part in ensuring the legal system is a just one.

Professor Rossman has authored a FAQ regarding the events in BUnitedBaltimore, and one of our students has taken the lead to plan “BUnited for Baltimore” this Friday, May 8, where students can share their thoughts and listen to guest speaker and Professor of Ethical Leadership, Dr. Walter Fluker. We encourage students to talk to each other and to our faculty and staff about their concerns. BU Law’s response to these events, and the deeper issues that are at the root of them, will continue as it is our mission and our responsibility to meet the needs of the students and an ever-changing world.