Experiencing Change of Different Kinds

bu-law-graduatesJust four short weeks ago, I had the honor of celebrating commencement with hundreds of graduates and their families and friends. It was a day to recognize the effort and achievements of our students.

This joyful event represented a time of change, with our graduates preparing to move from the familiar environment of our law school into what can be an unfriendly world. As they embark on their next adventures, BU Law graduates will be called upon to use their newly minted lawyering skills to make the world a better, more just place.

This will require integrity and leadership driven by humility, restraint, and action in the service of principles bigger than ourselves. Through my commencement remarks, I hoped to leave our graduates with several calls to action. You can view all of our commencement speakers on the BU Law website.

I know that our newest alumni will change lives and lift the spirits of those around them. I can’t think of anyone who better exemplifies the ability to inspire others and make a difference than my dear friend and colleague, Professor Mark Pettit, who passed away on Friday, June 8 after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.


Professor Pettit inspired thousands of students in his forty years of teaching at BU Law.

Professor Pettit lifted the hearts of many with his humor, love of teaching, and genuine care for the well-being of each and every one of his students and colleagues. His passing brings change that is very hard to accept right now.

Countless people, including me, consider Professor Pettit a role model, for his expertise, academic and professional experience, and leadership—to the legal field and to the University. His work was widely recognized, including, for example, by his receipt of the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1993, a Silver Shingle Award for Service to the School in 2001, and the Michael W. Melton Award for Excellence in Teaching during this year’s commencement ceremony.

Experiencing change can mean different things. As we mourn the loss of our beloved colleague and friend, we can seek to navigate this change by honoring Professor Pettit in all that we do. We can remember and adopt his attitude of compassion toward others, his commitment to sharing a deep knowledge of the law through teaching, and his approachability, modesty, and sense of humor that he shared with us each day.

We were incredibly fortunate to have him here with us at BU Law for more than 40 years. Please take a moment to read more about Professor Pettit here and sign our guestbook.

Sending off the Class of 2018

As we near BU Law’s 145th Commencement, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the Class of 2018 and wish them all the best as they embark on what I know will be diverse and successful legal careers.

Since joining BU Law, the Class of 2018 has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to community—not only here at the University, but in Boston and beyond. As students, many actively engaged in pro bono work and advocacy through student groups and nonprofit organizations. Others devoted their time and talent to BU and MIT student entrepreneurs, encouraging and supporting innovation here and across the country. In recognition of that ingenuity and service, a number of local and national organizations have celebrated members of this class:

Following Commencement, our graduates will begin their legal careers by pursuing many different opportunities. They will join law firms here in Boston as well as in New York, Dallas, Palo Alto, Chicago, Washington, DC, and even as far away as Hong Kong. Others will begin clerkships with, among others, the state supreme courts of Delaware and Nevada; superior courts of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire; the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

New alumni will enter public service as public defenders, with District Attorneys’ offices, and the US Army JAG Corps. Three will join government service through competitive honors programs with the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Some of the Class of 2018 will follow their passion for justice to nonprofit organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Wherever our graduates are headed, I am confident that they will continue to represent the very best of the BU Law community. Please join me in congratulating members of the Class of 2018 on their accomplishments and wish them well as they begin their legal careers.

If you have openings in your organization, please do let us know by emailing lawcdo@bu.edu. We have terrific new alumni who are seeking their first pathway into the profession, and there are no better mentors than our alumni!

Support BU Law on Giving Day

BU Giving Day 2018On April 22, 2018, alumni from schools across Boston University will join with parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the University to participate in Giving Day. I encourage you to take this opportunity to support BU Law.

Last year, the School of Law came in second among schools in dollars raised behind the College of Arts & Sciences, a school nearly seven times our size! The 306 donations totaling nearly $180,000 set a school record for single-day gifts. Let’s make this year even more successful than 2017!

This year, for every gift made to any fund at the law school, Susan Banks (’84) and Matthew Lynch (’84) will contribute “bonus funds” to the School of Law Fund. Faculty and staff donations will also be matched* by an anonymous staff member. For JD alumni celebrating your class reunion in June, and LLM alumni celebrating in September, consider making a reunion gift on Giving Day. Your financial support will benefit law student scholarships and many other important initiatives.

I hope you will make a gift to the School of Law on BU Giving Day. You can also encourage your fellow alumni to get involved by helping us spread the word on social media!

*Up to $6,000


A Community Committed to Public Service

BU Law's 2018 Shapiro Lecture, presented by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson emphasized public service in his 2018 Shapiro Lecture.

We recently welcomed Bryan Stevenson to BU Law to deliver the annual Max M. Shapiro Lecture. A noted public interest attorney, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author of Just Mercy, Stevenson spoke to our community about his efforts to seek justice for inmates on death row. His inspiring work brought to mind the importance of emphasizing public service in all areas of the law.

The BU Law community is deeply committed to public service. From our Public Interest Scholarships to our Pro Bono program and the great work our clinics do to support indigent clients in need of legal counsel, the opportunities for our students to use their legal training to serve the common good are everywhere. This week, as part of our Spring Break Pro Bono Service Trips program, students are traveling to Jena, Louisiana to work with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, to Detroit, Michigan to work with Michigan Legal Services, and to Puerto Rico to serve with Ayuda Legal Huracán María, an organization helping islanders recover from last year’s devastating hurricane. Other students are volunteering locally or with organizations in their home states.

Our support for public service work doesn’t end at graduation. Every year we award a small number of Public Service Fellowships to new graduates working in the public sector. The funding we provide extends for a full year, helping the fellowship recipients launch their public service careers. Alumni have been instrumental in helping to fund this program as well as our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). Young alumni (10 or fewer years since graduation) working in public service may apply for LRAP funds to help them pay their educational debt.

Each spring, we highlight the important work of an alum in government service in the District of Columbia with the DC Public Service Award. I was delighted to honor Charles Curtis (’65) with this year’s award. Charlie has had a long and distinguished career in both public and private practice, spending years with the Department of Energy before becoming founding president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit organization devoted to advancing nuclear security. Similarly, each fall we honor an alum with the Victor J. Garo Public Service Award. This fall, we recognized Hon. Ronald E. Richter, who dedicated his career to serving children and families as a judge on the New York State Family Court as well as with the Jewish Child Care Association.

It is my hope that, like these alumni, BU Law students will carry the lessons they learn about the importance of public service throughout their careers. The good they do as students, and continue to do as alumni, embodies the best of BU Law and the ideals of the legal profession.

Introducing the Corporate Counsel and Small/Mid-Size Law Firm Externship Programs

As part of our continuing efforts to expand experiential learning opportunities for students, we introduced two new externship programs during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Each semester, the Corporate Counsel Externship Program, led by Cecily Banks, places second- and third-year students in the corporate counsel offices of for-profit and nonprofit corporations in Greater Boston. In these placements, students earn academic credit while gaining hands-on legal training. Students also enroll in a 2-credit seminar in which they learn about the role and work of corporate counsel.

Supervising attorneys in the corporate placements teach students the day-to-day practical and strategic aspects of being an in-house lawyer for a business client. Students learn about the company’s business and its approach to risk management, as well as how to communicate effectively, produce a top-quality work product, provide advice, and solve problems.

Participating companies this year include: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston University Office of General Counsel, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Eaton Vance, Eversource Energy, HubSpot, Intarcia Therapeutics, Marsh & McLennan Agencies, MFS Investment, MPM Capital, National Grid, Natixis Global Asset Management, Nuance, Partners HealthCare, Pegasystems, Spartan Race, State Street Bank, Stewart Title Guaranty, Syros Pharmaceuticals, TOAST, Trip Advisor, and Wayfair.

The Small/Mid-Size Law Firm Externship, led by Sheila Bridges, provides students with the opportunity to work in small and medium-sized law firms for academic credit. The accompanying seminar focuses on a range of topics unique to legal practice in these firms, with a particular emphasis on developing the skills necessary for successful lawyering in these settings. Students gain a foundational knowledge of smaller firms and learn how to cultivate mentors, seek and respond to feedback, obtain challenging assignments, and measure progress on professional development goals.

These new programs complement our Affordable Housing, Health Law, Independent Proposal, Judicial, Legal, and Legislative Externships. If you are interested in providing students with an externship opportunity, please contact Adrienne Smith, associate director of clinical & trial programs, at ans@bu.edu.