Take a handful of BC Law students and ask them who their favorite professor is—odds are at least one of them will say Professor Cassidy. Don’t get me wrong, we have so many great professors at BC Law, but between teaching criminal law, professional responsibility, and evidence, most students have had the pleasure of taking a class with Professor Cassidy at least once.
That said, it isn’t just a matter of variety. Beyond the wide breadth of classes he teaches, Professor Cassidy also keeps students enthusiastically engaged with his breakdown of complex legal topics and lighthearted anecdotes.
I sat down with Professor Cassidy to ask him about his own law school experience, career, and favorite things about BC Law.
1) Have you always wanted to be an attorney? Growing up did you think this is where you would end up?
I decided I wanted to be an attorney in the 9th grade when I read “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I was inspired by how lawyers could give voice to the voiceless in our society and be an instrument of change. I didn’t know any lawyers, except those I caddied for at the golf club. My parents were blue collar workers.
2) What was your favorite thing about law school? Least favorite?
I pretty much hated law school. Harvard Law School in the early to mid 1980’s was not a happy place to be. Several faculty who focused on Critical Legal Studies had left for other schools or had been denied tenure. Back then HLS was nicknamed the “Beirut on the Charles” because all the faculty were at war with each other. Very few of them had a student-focused perspective on their responsibilities.
3) Why did you go into teaching?
When I was a prosecutor I taught as an adjunct at Suffolk (Trial Practice) and Harvard (The Government Lawyer). I fell in love with teaching. The students kept me young, and I was always learning.
4) Why did you choose to teach at BC Law specifically?
I remember taking my bar review course at BC Law in Newton in 1985. I had never stepped foot on the BC Law campus before then (although I had been to the Chestnut Hill campus, because many of my friends from high school had attended BC as undergraduates). The cherry trees were in bloom and the flowers were coming up as I parked my car next to the chapel. The bell in Trinity was chiming. The campus was glistening. As I walked to Stuart House, I literally remember thinking “wow, this would be a sweet place to teach someday.”
I practiced law for eleven years in Boston before coming to BC Law. Whenever I met a BC lawyer in my practice, they would talk about how much they enjoyed law school and how many friends they made. Since that hadn’t been anywhere near my experience in law school, this made a deep impression on me that BC must be a special place
5) From your perspective, how has BC Law changed over the years?
The faculty and staff have grown (particularly the size of the staff). So it isn’t the small community I joined in 1996. It is harder to get to know everyone very well and still feel like an intimate community. But the students remain great. They are smart, generous and kind.
6) What is your favorite class to teach? Why?
Evidence. Students watch movies and television and have a general sense (albeit often inaccurate) of what happens in a courtroom. But until you take Evidence, judicial decisions about when and how facts may be proven remain a complete mystery to most people.
7) If you could teach any class what would it be?
I would love to teach a year-long, six credit Evidence course to a small group of about 30-40 students. At the end of each unit the students would engage in simulations trying to admit or keep out certain pieces of evidence, based on the doctrinal concepts we had just learned.
8) What is your favorite BC-related story or memory?
Pat Parlon was the Executive Assistant in the Dean’s Office for over twenty years. She died in late December, 2021. Pat and I were very close–we worked together in state government before we both came to BC. Pat was the lifeblood of this place–she was very competent, efficient, and generous. If you wanted to figure out how to get something done at the law school, you went to see Pat. She had a great sense of humor and was extremely kind. I think we all miss Pat terribly.
9) If you were not doing all that you do now, what would you be doing?
I would be an advertising executive. I love commercials. A really, really good one is just as entertaining as the programming. I try to figure out what demographic they are shooting for and what themes they are pursuing. Advertising would tap into my creative side.
10) What is your favorite thing to do outside of school/work?
I like to be outdoors–golfing, skiing, hiking, biking. That is why I love New England. There is something really fun to do in every season!
Devon Sanders is a member of the Class of 2022, a new BC Law graduate, and president of the Impact blog. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.