Dedicating the Sumner M. Redstone Building & Welcoming the Future of BU Law

Heartfelt thanks to all of our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends who joined us at the dedication of the new Sumner M. Redstone building and at Alumni Weekend events. It turns out I wasn’t the only one excited about the new building—over 300 people came to the building dedication to celebrate its official opening!

Richard Godfrey ('79), Jacquelyn Rex ('15), President Brown, Judge Lynch ('71), Daniel Koh, and myself at the ribbon-cutting

Richard Godfrey (’79), Jacquelyn Rex (’15), President Brown, Judge Lynch (’71), Daniel Koh, and myself at the ribbon-cutting

The event was the culmination of all of the generosity and support that has poured in from the University and our alumni and friends. Each and every individual who has helped us get to this point has contributed not only to this beautiful new building, but also to the transformation of our school.

Special thanks, of course, to Sumner M. Redstone. His generosity is a tremendous vote of confidence in BU Law, and we have no intention of letting him down.

We were thrilled to have First Circuit Chief Judge Sandra Lynch (’71) with us to speak about the importance of legal education. Judge Lynch compared the remarks made by then Supreme Judicial Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes and Chief Justice Earl Warren at the prior dedications of buildings at Ashburton Place and Commonwealth Avenue. As she emphasized, one constant is the importance of legal education in upholding our democratic system and BU Law’s role in graduating future leaders of the nation and, indeed, the world.

President Brown spoke about what the new building means to Boston University, telling the audience that our school stands “at the center—the heart—of the University.” We are also thankful to Mayor Marty Walsh and his chief of staff, Daniel Koh, for proclaiming September 19th Sumner Redstone Day in the City of Boston.

Richard C. Godfrey (’79) emphasized the significance of the event, saying, “This is a once in a generation moment. This is the place where we will teach students what the law is, and what justice is. . . . [And] [n]ow we have a law facility that supports the aspirations of our students and the incredible faculty we have at the School.”

Jacquelyn Rex (’15) also spoke at the dedication, telling alumni and friends what the new building means to our students and how they have been using the new spaces. Since students arrived on campus last month, they have been enjoying the brand new classrooms, the café and lounge, and all of the new gathering spaces.

Christine Marx, Dan Rubinstein, Lt. Commander Jacob Romelhardt, Linda Skinner, Irving Picard, and myself.

Christine Marx, Dan Rubinstein, Lt. Commander Jacob Romelhardt, Linda Skinner, Irving Picard, and myself.

On Saturday night we packed the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for our Annual Reunion Gala Dinner and Silver Shingle Awards Presentation. As always, our award winners were outstanding representatives of the best of the legal profession and BU Law. See the Silver Shingle Alumni Awards recap for their bios.

I am thrilled to see the students enjoying all of the new spaces and am looking forward to a spectacular first year in this new building. I hope you will make time for a visit when your schedules allow.

Celebrating the Brand New Sumner M. Redstone Building

The wait is over—the Sumner M. Redstone Building is officially open! That’s a statement that we have been waiting to exclaim for over 20 years now, and it feels wonderful to finally be able to say it!IMG_1449

We’ve spent the last year watching with anticipation as the Skanska construction team erected the building, and put the final touches on it so we could open in time for fall semester classes. The furniture is now in place, the classrooms are equipped with all the right technology, and the new lockers are ready to hold the students’ heavy law books. You might have seen some photos of the building on our social media sites, but as you’ll find out, the building is even more beautiful in person.

From the bright and open atrium, to the beautiful views of the Charles River, to the brand new Student Commons and café, this is a whole new BU Law, and we can’t wait for our community to see it!

We constructed this building as part of our “Thinking Forward” initiative to revitalize our legal education—and that’s exactly what it was designed to do. With its state-of-the-art classrooms, spacious study areas and gathering spaces, the building not only gives students the physical facility that will enhance their education, but it will make the BU Law community stronger.

REDSTONEThis summer, we’ve seen prospective students tour the building and some of our current students coming by to wander through it. We’ve even seen some of our recent graduates come back to use the new spaces to study for the bar exam. We hope it brought them luck!

We’ve been dreaming of this day for over two decades so you can understand why we can’t wait to show it off. We will be hosting the dedication ceremony at the Redstone Building on September 19th at 2:30 pm as part of Boston University’s Alumni Weekend. I’d like to invite our students, alumni, and all members of the BU Law community to join us for this momentous event that marks the transformation of our campus and of our school. It’s an important milestone in our school’s rich history, and I hope you can join us.

Best of Luck to the Class of 2014

Let me begin with a big thank you to all of our students and their families and friends for making this year’s Commencement ceremony a wonderful and special one. I am both amazed by how fast this year flew by and immensely proud of this bright and passionate group of students who are now officially law school graduates with their diplomas in hand. The members of the Class of 2014 will now embark on their own diverse legal careers around the globe, and I thought I’d share with you the plans of just a few of these outstanding new alumni.

Each year, the School awards a few Public Interest (PI) Scholarships to select members of the incoming class that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to serving the public. I am pleased to report that the Class of 2014 PI Scholars have made a significant contribution to our community over the last three years and that all have accepted post-graduate positions with public interest employers. They are:

Elizabeth Hasse

Elizabeth Hasse

  • Jessica Bettencourt, Legal Aid Society – Criminal Division, NYC
  • Matt Bruenig, National Labor Relations Board – Honors Program, Washington, DC
  • Alex Conlon, Bronx Public Defenders, Bronx, NY
  • Sohani Kahn, Legal Aid Society – Criminal Division, NYC
  • Elizabeth Hasse, Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellow at Tahirih Justice Center, Houston, TX

A second member of the Class of 2014, Elizabeth McIntyre, also received an EJW Fellowship to protect the educational and health care rights of low-income children in Boston Public Schools. Elizabeth recently received the J.D. 2014 Pro Bono Award, given to the J.D. student completing the most pro bono hours during three years at the School of Law.

lucy sun

Lucy Sun

Many of our students will enter public service with the government upon graduation. Lucy Sun, for example, was selected for the Massachusetts Attorney General Office’s 2014 Fellowship Program. She will launch her legal career there under the direction of Massachusetts Attorney General and BU Law alumna Martha Coakley (’79).

The School of Law awarded 11 students the annual BU Law Public Service Fellowships, which give students the opportunity to work full-time for a year providing necessary legal services to a non-profit organization or government agency. They are:

  • Jessica Ziehler – Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Office of the State of Florida Public Defender, West Palm Beach, FL
  • Lauren Shryne – Greater Boston Legal Services, Consumer Law Unit, Boston MA
  • Chelsea Lewis – New York City Transit Authority, Office of the General Counsel, New York, NY
  • Lisa Gilbert – MTA New York City Transit Authority, Office of the General Counsel, New York, NY
  • Irene Burga – Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Santa Monica, CA
  • Anna Gurevich – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Office of the General Counsel, Boston MA
  • Orla Thompson – New York City Transit Authority, Office of the General Counsel, New York, NY
  • Dianna Michelle Martinez – Immigrant Rights Clinic, BU Civil Litigation Program, Boston, MA
  • Lys Runnerstrom – Twentieth Judicial District Attorney, Boulder, CO
  • Elena Noureddine – Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR Project), Boston, MA
  • Emily Crim – Greater Boston Legal Services, Elder, Health & Disability Unit, Boston, MA

Additionally, Katelyn Kramer received the N. Neal Pike Fellowship, which sponsors a fellow to work in the field of disability rights. Katelyn will be serving the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association’s Family Law Unit in Boston.

Serving the country in another way, two members of the Class of 2014 have been selected for the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Congratulations, Ethan Chae and John McSwiggin, on your commissions!

I am pleased to announce that Thomas McCants will be our inaugural Gideon’s Promise Fellow (click here for a description of BU Law’s new partnership with Gideon’s Promise). The Atlanta-based nonprofit places graduates in under-resourced public defenders’ offices with funding provided by law schools. Thomas has accepted a position in Augusta, Georgia.

Other members of the Class of 2014 will be judicial clerks, transactional attorneys, intellectual property associates, and assistant district attorneys. They will be working in private practice and the public sector, in fields from health law to finance, and in locations from Boston to Tokyo and beyond.

Wherever our graduates are headed, I am confident and proud that they will continue to represent the very best of the BU Law community. Please join me in congratulating the Class of 2014 on their accomplishments and in looking forward to their professional success.

A Passion for Public Service at BU Law

The Boston University School of Law community has always exhibited a profound passion for and commitment to public service. Members of our faculty are dedicated to inculcating in students an appreciation for the importance of public service, and our students find their own areas of interest by participating in one or more of the many programs available at BU Law.

Just a few weeks ago, during spring break 2014, sixty-two BU Law students traveled to nine cities on pro bono service trips. Students provided legal assistance at a variety of nonprofit organizations in Boston; Biloxi, MS; Harlingen, TX; Los Angeles; Detroit; New Orleans; and other cities around the country. Students worked on a broad range of legal issues – from claims arising from Hurricane Katrina and the Deep Horizon oil spill to challenges to mortgage foreclosure actions to death penalty and immigration detention cases, just to name a few!

From left to right: Matthew Kugizaki ('12), Jodie Koo ('16), Cullan Riley ('16), and Nick Levenhagen ('12)

From left to right: Matthew Kugizaki (’12), Jodie Koo (’16), Cullan Riley (’16), and Nick Levenhagen (’12) with me in Los Angeles

On my own “spring break,” I traveled to Los Angeles and San Diego, meeting with alumni in LA and Orange County, and attending an ABA meeting.  I was delighted to have dinner with our two 1L students working in LA as part of our pro bono service trips.  We were joined by two young alums – one in large firm practice and one working for a public interest organization at a job he obtained as a result of BU Law’s post-graduate fellowship program.

The public service work students perform while at BU Law inevitably continues when they leave the law tower, and we are always proud to recognize alumni for continuing to demonstrate their passion for public service. In February, we honored three of our distinguished alumni that have gone above and beyond in their public service work: Betsy Plevan, Seymour James, Jr. and Glenn Lau-Kee have all served or will serve as presidents of the New York City or State Bar and have all excelled in promoting the ideals of public service through their practices and bar association activities.

We are also delighted to be honoring alum Nina Zolt (’76) at our upcoming DC Public Service reception on April 9 at 6pm at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Rotunda.  Nina has spent the last 17 years helping children around the world develop and refine their reading skills. Her organization, In2Books, pairs adult volunteers with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders who read and exchange ideas about books online.

Another upcoming event focused on public service is the Public Interest Project Auction on April 3 at 6pm at the GSU Metcalf Ballroom. PIP raises money to fund law students who are pursuing public interest work during the summer. Additionally, at the BU Law Year End Pro Bono Celebration on April 7 at 6pm in Barristers Hall, we will honor alumni Avner Shapiro (’94) and Angela Gomes (’05) for their commitment to pro bono and public service. We will also recognize our 3L and LLM students who have completed the pro bono pledge.

To top it all off, I am proud to announce that two of our 3Ls, Libby Hasse and Elizabeth McIntyre, were recently named Equal Justice Works Fellows. Beginning in the fall, Libby will be working at the Tahririh Justice Center in Houston, TX, while Elizabeth will be working at Greater Boston Legal Services.

These students and alumni epitomize the spirit of BU Law and the best of the legal profession.  We are grateful to their contributions to improving the nation and, indeed, the world, through public service.

Honoring BU Law’s New York Alumni and Welcoming Our Admitted Students

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Viacom, a company founded by our lead building donor, Sumner M. Redstone, and led in part by General Counsel Michael Fricklas, a class of 1984 alum of BU Law. Viacom hosted a reception to honor three of our most distinguished alums and to welcome admitted students to BU Law.

It was wonderful to see our alumni engaging with admitted students and welcoming them to the BU Law community. We were also happy to have our Assistant Dean of Admissions, Alissa Leonard, our Assistant Dean for Career Development & Public Service, Fiona Hornblower, and Professor Khiara Bridges on hand to answer questions and represent the best law professors in the country!


Glenn Lau-Kee (’74), Michael Fricklas (’84), Dean Maureen O’Rourke, Betsy Plevan (’70) and Seymour James (’74) at the BU Law reception in New York City

At BU Law, we take tremendous pride in providing our students with the best in legal education and preparing them for today’s competitive legal market – and our alumni are living proof of this. We were thrilled to have our New York alumni with us as living proof of the careers made possible by their hard work and BU Law education.

I was also delighted to honor three prominent alums who have made leadership contributions to the bar associations of New York. All three honorees are pioneers in the law community and we are proud to call them our alumni:

Betsy Plevan (’70), a partner in the Labor and Employment Department at Proskauer Rose, has established herself as one of the country’s top attorneys in employment law.  She is a true trailblazer and an inspiration for women in the law. Betsy was the third woman to hold the office of President of the New York City Bar Association, and the first to serve as a member of the firm’s seven-person Executive Committee.

Seymour James (’74) is the Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice division at the Legal Aid Society of New York. Seymour was the third African-American President of the New York State Bar Association, and in that position advocated for criminal discovery reform and the importance of addressing human trafficking in NY.  At the Legal Aid Society, Seymour litigated the major case of Earley v. Murray, which declared the New York Department of Corrections’ post-release supervision policy unconstitutional.

Glenn Lau-KeDSC_6988e (’74) is the current president-elect of the state bar. When his term begins in June, he will be the first Asian-American to hold this position. As a partner at Kee & Lau-Kee, a firm founded by his father in 1956, Glenn has been a strong advocate for greater involvement by the Asian American community in the New York bar.

It was wonderful to show our admitted students the diversity of the BU Law alumni base:  Our honorees came from diverse backgrounds and diverse practice settings.  What united them was their BU Law education.

As we move forward, we must never forget that diversity was a founding value of Boston University, and it is one of the great strengths of our country.  It would be a great help to us if all of our alumni would encourage outstanding diverse candidates to law school to apply to BU Law to honor our heritage and to make us an even stronger school as we move deeper into the 21st century.