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!

#ProudtoBU and to Collaborate with MIT


Kelvin Chan’s banner at the corner of Comm Ave and the BU Bridge.

If you have visited our campus lately, you may have noticed the #ProudtoBU street banners along Commonwealth Avenue. The banners feature BU students and their unique accomplishments. Representing the School of Law is Kelvin Chan (’16), a 3L student who worked in our Entrepreneurship & Intellectual Property Clinic this past year.

Since we opened this clinic at MIT last fall, Kelvin and seven of his fellow BU Law students have provided legal guidance to more than 75 MIT students. Our students have worked on a wide range of issues related to intellectual property, contract, and corporate law. In part as a result of their work, their MIT student clients have started a variety of successful ventures, including a platform for analyzing commercial maritime logistics, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention, and a start-up that enables customers to request a personal chef visit their home.

Later this month, the Entrepreneurship & IP Clinic will welcome its first two summer fellows: Malavika Lobo (’17) and Alexandra Noymer (’18). We are grateful to the Boston office of WilmerHale for making a generous gift in support of the clinic’s summer fellows program.

We are also pleased to announce that this clinic is now headed by a new director, Jerry O’Connor. He replaced Eve Brown, who stepped down to start her own firm. Jerry comes to BU Law with more than 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney, primarily representing technology entrepreneurs and providing general corporate representation.

In the fall, we will be opening our second clinic with MIT: the Technology & Cyberlaw Clinic. Our students will advise MIT students on laws related to technology and the Internet that may affect their innovation-related activities. Starting July 1, this clinic will be headed by Andy Sellars, who is currently an attorney at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

While the school year may be winding down, our two clinics with MIT are gearing up for a busy summer and preparing for a productive fall!