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.


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.

What Does a Law School Dean Do?

People often ask me: What exactly does a law school dean do? The answer is: MANY THINGS! Here’s a slightly irreverent look at a representative day for me:

7:45 a.m. – Starbucks
Pick up a venti iced non-fat caramel macchiato topped with coffee instead of espresso.

8–9:30 a.m. – Attend the Deans’ Council meeting
Meet with the Provost and my counterparts from the other 15 schools and colleges at BU to discuss University-wide policies that affect our individual units. If I don’t have a Deans’ Council meeting, chances are I have a meeting with the leaders of the Student Government Association or a Dean’s Management Committee meeting—in which all of the associate and assistant deans and department heads at LAW gather to facilitate updates and communication across functions at the law school.

9:30–10:00 a.m. – Check email/return phone calls
Drive from the Questrom Business School where Deans’ Council meetings are held to the law school. Take some time to reply to emails and return phone calls.

10:30–10:50 am – Class preparation
Make sure that all materials are organized and ready for class.

11:00 a.m.–12:25 p.m. – Class
Teach Secured Transactions to a class of upper-level students. It’s a great topic and very useful to many students in their careers. If I don’t have class, there may be time to visit an alum downtown, hold a faculty meeting, or prepare for University meetings (usually about the budget).

12:30–1:00 p.m. – Lunch
After class, I like to grab lunch in the McCausland Commons (aka the Café) on the second floor of the Redstone building. 

1:00–2:00 p.m.
Meet with one of our many faculty committees addressing, for example, the curriculum, student life, new programs, and searches for new faculty.

2:00–3:00 p.m. – Open Office Hours for Students
Meet with students who have questions from class or other items to discuss.

3:00–4:00 p.m. – Participate in a conference call
Some part of each day is usually spent on the phone with, for example, the Executive Committee of the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar (I am chair-elect of the Council), UnitedLex (a company with which we have a contract to offer a legal residency program to new graduates), my co-authors on our Copyright in a Global Information Economy casebook.

4:00 p.m. – Starbucks. Again.
Pick up a grande mocha light frappucino to remain caffeinated.

4:15–5:30 p.m. – Check email/return phone calls

5:30–7:00 p.m. – Events
Participate in law school, University, or alumni events.

7:00 p.m. – Go home!
Drive home. Be sure to prepare for the next class and to check the calendar to see what the next day will bring. Pack, if travel is involved! (This fall, I will be traveling to Chicago, London, New Orleans/Baton Rouge, and New York for ABA meetings, lectures, and alumni visits).


A Note from Dean O’Rourke

Dear BU Law community,

In recent months, we at the law school have developed a protocol for when we send messages to the entire community. We did this because we know that students would often like to hear from us about current events but, at the same time, we are simply not equipped to be a news organization or constant commentators on current events. And we know of the danger of email fatigue: the more we email, the fewer who will read our communications. Under our new protocol, we will communicate on current events when BU or BU Law is implicated directly because a student, faculty or staff member or alum is involved, or when the event is one of such magnitude that it shocks the conscience or is a natural disaster that causes serious harm. Generally, when we do comment, it will be via the BU Law Facebook or Twitter accounts. At the same time, however, in light of the gravity of recent events and my desire to update you on a new committee at the law school, I decided an email would be appropriate.

Certainly, the shootings this week in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas are events that shock the conscience and that occurred in areas in which many members of our community live and work. Unfortunately, there is little I can add to statements I have made in the past when similar events have occurred. I would ask a few things, however. First, please keep all who have lost their lives and their families in your thoughts and prayers. Second, let us not compound the tragedy by becoming immune to it. It is far too easy to lose hope when violence erupts again and again and again. It dishonors the victims and their memories if we fail to keep trying to put an end to senseless loss of life.

I’m writing also to let you know that as a result of our conversations last year, we have set up a Committee on Community & Inclusion, chaired by Professors Ron Wheeler and Laila Hlass and whose membership consists of Professors Lawson, Leonard, and Pita Loor and administrators Assistant Deans Liz Cerrato and Alissa Leonard and Associate Director for Diversity & Inclusion Brenda Hernandez. The Committee will be seeking input from students shortly after school starts again. Our goal is for BU Law to be a community in which the most controversial issues can be discussed from all sides civilly and respectfully, and in which we equip our students with the tools to make positive change. In that vein, a heartfelt thank you to all of our affinity groups and student organizations and Office of Student Affairs for all the events they held last year that did just that.

This is a hard time. And a contentious election season looms, adding to a feeling of great unease. It is the case that all great nations eventually decline, usually because internal forces break down the shared vision the society once held. We can ask whether the US is any different. It’s a difficult question especially in the heat of the moment when it feels as though society is coming apart at the seams. But I choose to believe that we can make a difference, we can be a better people and nation, and that we have to begin by thinking the best of people and treating everyone we meet with the respect and dignity their very existence demands. Out of small steps come great leaps forward and we all can make a difference.

I look forward to seeing you again soon. In the meantime, I wish us all reasons to hope and a renewed commitment to justice in our nation.


BU Law Responds to Tragedy in Orlando

We extend our deepest sympathies and expression of support to our students and alumni in Orlando, Florida. This weekend’s horrific attack has shocked and saddened the entire BU Law community. We are deeply pained by this violent act of hatred that appears to have targeted the LBGTQ community. Oppression and violence in any form denigrate the rights and freedom of all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

We will keep the entire Orlando community in our thoughts and prayers, as we continue to reaffirm our commitment to equality and justice under the law for all.

Here in Boston, there will be a citywide vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting at 6 p.m. today at City Hall Plaza.

Good Luck to the Class of 2016!


U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz

Thank you to our graduation speaker, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and our newest alumni and their families and friends for a wonderful Commencement ceremony. We heard inspiring words from Ms. Ortiz, who is the first Hispanic and the first woman to serve as the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

Some of our 2016 graduates will follow in Ms. Ortiz’s steps and become government lawyers, working for the Food & Drug Administration and the Government Accountability Office. Others will provide legal services in the military as members of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Many of our graduates will enter private practice with New England law firms, while others will launch their careers in New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and Houston. Several members of the Class of 2016 will join district attorney and public defender offices in Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York.

Two graduates, Corrylee Drozda and Jasmine Gomez, will begin post-graduate fellowships in the fall. Drozda has been accepted into the US 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 clerk in the San Antonio Immigration Court.

Gomez is a recipient of a Democracy Honors Fellowship from Free Speech for People, a national advocacy organization dedicated to amending the US Constitution to overturn the US Supreme Court’s rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and Buckley v. Valeo. She will join their Legal Advocacy Program in Boston.

Additionally, eleven graduates were awarded BU Law Public Service Fellowships:

  • Lauren Bentlage – Health Law Advocates (Boston, MA). She is the recipient of the N. Neal Pike Fellowship, which sponsors a fellow to work in the field of disability rights
  • Christian BerchildCahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Post-Graduate Fellow, Chicago Legal Clinic, Immigration Unit (Chicago, IL)
  • Jade BrownCahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Post-Graduate Fellow, Greater Boston Legal Services, Consumer Law Unit (Boston, MA)
  • Jessica Burnett – Yanan and Dan Schwartz Post-Graduate Fellow, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (Westminster, CO)
  • Ting Yan Chiu – Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Post-Graduate Fellow, Greater Boston Legal Services, Asian Outreach Unit (Boston, MA)
  • Mary-Anne Gilbert – Lisa G. Beckerman Post-Graduate Fellow, Casa Myrna Vazquez (Boston, MA)
  • Michael Gregory – Richard M. Belanger Post-Graduate Fellowship, Capital Appeals Project (New Orleans, LA)
  • Violeta Haralampieva – William and Patricia Kleh Post-Graduate Fellow, Refugee Solidarity Network (New York, NY) and Refugee Rights Turkey (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Brittany Kerr – Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Post-Graduate Fellow, Greater Boston Legal Services, Criminal Offender Record Information Unit (Boston, MA)
  • Chloe Noonan – Gerard H. Cohen Post-Graduate Fellow, Lawyers Committee for Better Housing (Chicago, IL)
  • Alexandra Tucker – Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP Post-Graduate Fellow, Center for Family Representation (New York, NY)

We look forward to keeping in touch with the Class of 2016 and wish them all the best in their new ventures!