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.

The Future of Legal Education

Last week, I participated in a webinar with a panel of leaders in the law, including attorneys from private firms and corporations, CLE providers, and bar associations. The panel, brought together by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, discussed the future of legal education and how we should train the next generation of lawyers. We discussed what qualities characterize a good lawyer and how law schools can best prepare their students for their first legal jobs.

1L Lawyering Lab

1L Lawyering Lab

Though the panelists came from a variety of backgrounds, we all agreed that not only are the traditional skills of analytical thinking and problem-solving important, but so too are the “soft” skills – now more than ever. One panelist from the corporate sector stressed the importance of a lawyer’s ability to generate trust, which depends critically on their relationship-building skills. I emphasized the importance of resilience, self-possession, and civility. And now, more than ever, technology is rapidly changing how lawyers practice in a wide variety of ways. As law schools, we must consider how best to respond to this new reality and equip our students to be adaptable throughout the long arc of their careers.

One of the topics discussed was how best to transition students from law school to real-world practice. I am proud to say that at BU Law, we are thinking critically every day about how best to balance our traditional excellent training in analytical and theoretical thinking with the market demand for practice-ready lawyers. BU Law has been a national leader in developing experiential learning opportunities for our students throughout their three years, enabling them to obtain meaningful legal experience before beginning their first jobs.

In their first year, students participate in the 1L career conference where they hear from alumni practicing in a wide range of settings, including some non-traditional ones. After the conference, each student is paired with a Career Development Office advisor and faculty mentor. Together, the team works to help achieve the student’s educational and career goals. During intersession, we require all 1L students to participate in an intensive one-week “Lawyering Lab,” which helps students build basic skills like client counseling, negotiation, and contract drafting, through a simulated business transaction. And our Transactional Law program and externship (including Semester-in-Practice) and clinical offerings provide upper-class students with broad-ranging opportunities to gain hands-on legal experience that will serve them well in their future careers. The goal of all of these programs is not only to give students the opportunity to think about the different ways in which they can practice law, but also to help them evaluate their skill sets by identifying areas of expertise as well as those in need of improvement.

Indeed, we have heard from alumni and employers that mastery of certain basic business skills is one area in which new graduates from all law schools need to improve. In response, we have created an online business fundamentals program, covering topics like understanding financial statements, capital markets, and valuation of risk. All students must either “test out” of the course or complete it successfully in order to graduate.

Additionally, we believe that the future of legal education will feature more training in compliance and regulation. There is a significant demand in the US and abroad for lawyers with an understanding of the new compliance paradigm. We hope to offer our students the opportunity to learn the basic skills that will enable them to identify, analyze, and control compliance risks in various commercial and financial contexts.

In this ever-changing legal and education environment, we must continually strive to stay on top of the latest innovations, trends, and challenges so that we can give students of the law the skills they need to succeed from day one on the job. And we can only do this by continuing to value the deeply analytical and theoretical training we have always provided while also realizing the promise of our theme of “thinking forward” by creating even more innovative programs.

Welcoming the BU Law Class of 2018

With February over and March finally here, we can now look forward to not only the coming of spring but also to welcoming our admitted students to BU Law.

Dean at Reception

Boston Alumni & Admitted Students Reception

This past month, I attended an alumni and admitted students reception at Goodwin Procter in Boston. The reception gave these students an opportunity to speak to some of our faculty members, who represent one of the top faculties in the nation, and to our Boston alumni. After all, who better to tell prospective students all about BU Law than those who have experienced all the School has to offer? Our alumni are an invaluable resource to students, offering insight into BU Law courses, clinics and externships, and careers.

At the event, I was pleased to report on the success of our very first 1L Lawyering Lab, which gave first-year students an introduction to “real-world” lawyering skills that are applicable to a wide range of practice areas. I was also delighted to talk about how much our students enjoy the beautiful new Redstone Building and to give an update on the law tower, which is currently undergoing a complete renovation and will be finished and just-like-new by the fall!


NY Alumni Panel & Admitted Students Reception

Last month, The Clearing House in New York hosted a panel for alumni and admitted students on the entertainment industry and the law. New York has the second largest concentration of BU Law graduates of any state in the country, with some of our alumni working at large firms, corporations, public interest organizations, and even the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees! Our alumni serve as proof that though you’ll get your degree in Boston, you can begin your legal career in New York, DC, or any state in the country.

I will be in San Francisco on March 12th for another reception with alumni and admitted students. I always enjoy catching up with our alumni around the country and I look forward to meeting more of our impressive admitted students.

Later this month, we will host our Preview Days and welcome our admitted students into the BU Law family. I look forward to meeting the new members of our community who, I have no doubt, will continue BU Law’s legacy of pushing the boundaries of the legal field and becoming the best in the legal profession.

BU Law was recently ranked #19 on the National Law Journal‘s list of “Go-To” law schools with new graduates working in the largest law firms. Additionally, 16 BU Law alumni were promoted from associate to partner at the 250 largest firms in 2014, the 11th most associate-to-partner promotions among all law schools according to the NLJ rankings. This year, our faculty was ranked #2 for the Best Law Professors and #7 for Best Classroom Experience by The Princeton Review. We just learned that BU Law is #26 on this year’s U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation’s law schools, rising one spot from our #27 ranking last year.

While these external rankings change from year to year, our commitment to providing our students with the best possible legal education never wavers. We offer a rigorous curriculum, stellar faculty, extensive clinical and externship opportunities, and new programs such as the 1L Lawyering Lab, Business Fundamentals course, and Transactional Law program, all of which are focused on helping our students be successful in their first legal job and throughout their professional career.

BU Law Students and Alumni Are Ready and Willing to Help Those in Need

Public service has always been a part of BU Law’s legacy. Our students, faculty, and alumni demonstrate their commitment through clinical work, pro bono projects, public service fellowships, and through their own lives and careers. On March 5th, at a reception for our alumni and admitted students at the DC law office of Covington & Burling, I will have the honor of presenting BU Law’s Washington DC Public Service Alumni Award to Deborah Mayer (’97), Director of Investigations for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics and Commander in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Like Deborah, many of our current students want to pursue careers in public interest law. Even in the face of employment challenges and societal issues, our students are ready and willing to step in and help those in need.

Demonstrating our commitment to public service, President Brown has issued a $1,000,000 matching challenge for Post-Graduate Public Service Fellowships at the School of Law. These fellowships help graduates launch their desired careers while supporting struggling courts, organizations, and agencies. Please join us in supporting our Public Service Fellows and the important work they are doing in our communities.

At BU Law’s Human Trafficking Clinic, just named one of the nation’s most innovative law school clinics by The National Jurist, students assist victims of sex and labor trafficking. In 2013, our students helped publish the first-ever human trafficking guide for Massachusetts attorneys, which gives lawyers the information and tools to navigate the challenging legal issues faced by victims.

Next month, dozens of our students will travel to cities across the country on pro bono service trips during their spring break to work on legal issues that disproportionately affect low-income individuals. Whether they spend the week working in Detroit, Newark, New Orleans, or other cities, they will devote themselves to meeting the legal needs of under-served communities.

And in April, our students will host the annual Public Interest Program (PIP) Auction to fund grants for students working in unpaid public interest or government summer internships. Last year, PIP raised enough money to provide grants to 80 BU Law students. I hope that you will attend this great event and bid on the auction items! See you there!