When you first encounter Professor Daniel Lyons standing in front of your Property class, you may be intimidated by the impeccable three-piece suit, astonishing poise and brilliance, and, of course, the iconic fedora. His cold calls have left many trembling to this day. Yet, I can say definitively that Professor Lyons is one of the best professors on our campus. It’s no surprise that the school chose him to serve as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the next few years.
I sat down with Professor Lyons to pull back the curtain a bit and highlight a different, lighter, more familiar side of one of BC Law’s best.
Why Boston College Law School? Because this institution cares deeply about the student experience.
Professor Lyons shared that when you want to be a law professor, it’s like a meat market. There are thousands of people chasing a handful of coveted positions. It can include short twenty minute interviews and longer interviews with several call-backs. He recalled the interview process of one particular school that shaped his perspective and ultimately pushed him to BC.
During the interview, the hiring committee chair said, “we teach and survey students, but if your survey scores are too high and positive, then the dean will call you in for a conversation.” The implication was that if your student scores are high, then it’s because you are spending too much time teaching and not enough on scholarship.
The opposite perspective is true at BC. This is why he chose BC. Professor Lyons affirms that this sentiment has stayed true throughout his 13 years here in our community. “BC’s core identity of cultivating a sense of camaraderie is what I love about our school and community,” he said.
Professor Lyons cares deeply about the classroom experience for students, as well as his scholarship. From the student perspective, it’s clear that he is meticulously prepared and intentional about each question he poses to the class.
What drives Professor Lyons’s preparation? A fear of public speaking.
Professor Lyons admitted that he had a fear of public speaking. He uses an approach that he picked up from Supreme Court Litigator and Georgetown Professor Randy Barnett, who said, “Yeah I’m nervous arguing in front of the Supreme Court, but I allow that nervousness to drive myself to prepare better.”
Given that virtually everyone has some level of fear of public speaking, he advised that “law school is a safe place to address the weaknesses to be a more rounded advocate rather than play to your strengths.” In what he called “exposure therapy,” students can seize on the opportunity in school to address any fears or insecurities. He joked, “it’s better to do it now then in front of a judge while representing a client.”
But what’s behind this academic and professional exterior? A family man with a collection of future hobbies.
At the core of Professor Lyons’s identity is a husband and father. Before all of the academic prestige, congressional testimonies, and law review articles is a deep commitment to his wife and three children. In fact, if you are fortunate enough to enroll in one of his courses, it’s likely you’ve seen pictures from family vacations that somehow tie to the cases in class, or heard funny stories about his children trying to catch leprechauns, or caught a glimpse into other aspects of Professor’s Lyon’s life outside of BC. In all of it, his family is at the center.
Besides grading exams and reading law review articles about telecommunications, what else does Professor Lyons do for fun?
He admits that his greatest hobby is collecting future hobbies, such as filling his library with books to read at some point, or buying DVD movies to watch (not streaming, but actually buying the physical DVD discs), or imagining making craft beers one day with his already-purchased beer-making kit. Hopefully, he will enjoy these hobbies someday.
Aside from these aspirations, Professor Lyons loves walking with family around his Newton neighborhood and nearby woods next to the BC Law campus. He serves as Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts, in which each of his sons participate.
When asked about his favorite activity, he excitedly named visiting Treehouse Brewery and BT Smokehouse in central Massachusetts. He advised that the best experience is to pick up some BBQ from BT’s and take it to Treehouse Brewery to eat. His wife Crystal Lyons, who is also a professor at BC Law, happened to be present at our conversation and confirmed that this is the only way to do it. Other fun family traditions include hikes, games at Fenway, and the annual trip to Sullivan’s on Castle Island for deep fried seafood.
In addition, Professor Lyons shared that he loves this area because there is always something to do by just getting in the car and driving away from the city. Particularly, he mentioned the beautiful rural escapes in New Hampshire and Vermont, just an hour away.
On a personal note, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be Professor Lyons’ student twice over (Property and Administrative Law) and highly encourage current and prospective students to take his courses. If not, you can catch him at his annual holiday study break for 1Ls on campus, snag an invitation to Thanksgiving, which he hosts for students who cannot get home for the holiday, or bid to attend his annual BBQ that he offers during the PILF auction. And, of course, when you see a guy in a three-piece suit, donning a sharp fedora, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to one of BC Law’s greatest professors.
Travis Salters is a second-year student at BC Law, and Vice President of the Impact blog. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.