Sometimes We Have To Miss Class

BC Law professor Mike Cassidy shared the note below that he received from a student. “I ask students in Evidence to inform me in advance if they need to miss a class,” Professor Cassidy wrote. “I do this so that I can keep an eye on students who may be experiencing problems or simply falling behind. I received this email on Wednesday evening October 30, 2018. It was one of the most compelling and engaging excuses for missing class that I have received in 22 years of teaching.

“I sincerely hope that Ben becomes a litigator after graduation. He clearly has the skills of an advocate.”

We at Impact thought it was a shame that such an eloquently written plea wasn’t shared with the world–and so, with Professor Cassidy’s and Ben’s permission, we are posting it here:

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Lest We Forget: A Trip to Ellis Island

This year Boston College gifted its students and faculty an extra day of reprieve on Columbus Day weekend, creating a new, four-day “fall break.” I took advantage of the extra time by heading down to visit my father in New York City, where we decided to spend a morning visiting Ellis Island and the immigration museum there. We set out with high hopes that were, unfortunately, chastened by missed opportunities.

Stepping off the boat at Ellis Island, you walk up to the main building that houses the exhibits and the only one that the standard ticket gets you into. The museum opens with a walk through the nation’s immigration history, beginning before Jamestown and stretching to the 1890s, when Ellis Island opened. The Trail of Tears, the Slave Trade, the mix of cultures that produced the likes of Jazz are all addressed. The history is deep and serves as a proper warm up to the story of the island itself, but, as my father pointed out, they might as well just hand you a book when you step off the boat. Displaying few artifacts, the exhibit doesn’t engage its visitors. You mostly step precariously around others, trying to stay out of their line of sight. I found myself gazing at the floor, which is a beautiful white tile, and wondering if it is original (it is).

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3 of My Favorite Places in Boston to Get Books (not the law ones)

Contrary to popular belief, you can make a decent amount of time to pleasure read in law school. During 1L, a stereotypically time-crunched period, I saw my reading productivity sky rocket. It was a way to reclaim some sort of agency over the knowledge I was consuming. In the beginning of the first semester I read two of Woodward’s Nixon books (All the President’s Men, which left me yearning to know the ending, told in The Final Days), and over the course of winter I finished a trilogy of sorts that addresses the white, conservative discomfit with America’s direction (White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, which offers a macro, historical perspective, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, which takes a more personal look at Louisiana in particular, and, of course, Hillbilly Elegy, micro, personal perspective).

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An Update from New Orleans

I have the privilege of spending my summer in New Orleans, working on indigent capital appeals. A lot of my day is spent in the organization’s library, digging into criminal law research questions. I’ve also had the opportunity to join an attorney at a status conference for a federal civil suit challenging the heat conditions on death row, and to visit some of our clients there.

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This is my house for the summer, a carriage house converted into a studio. A few things about New Orleans: it’s humid (imagine living in the moment when you step out of a hot shower), the streets flood (past your ankles), the cockroaches are prolific (and big), and it’s one of the most amazing cities I’ve been in.

I’m looking forward to the next eight weeks here, learning more about the city and meeting more incredible attorneys who are dedicating their lives to saving those of others.

What Are We Up To This Summer?

Exams are wrapping up, we’re finishing those last spot checks of final papers, and most importantly, getting ready for our summer jobs. Here’s what some of the Impact bloggers are up to this summer.

Brianna: I will be working this summer at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in Washington, D.C. PEER is a national nonprofit that fills the unique niche of serving the public employees who protect our environment. PEER works with government agency employees to address environmental wrongs while protecting their identities and also provides free legal help for those who suffer retaliation from their supervisors after blowing the whistle themselves. PEER advocates for strong scientific integrity policies and procedures and has an array of ongoing policy and public education campaigns. As a Legal Intern, I will assist the Senior Counsel, Executive Director, Staff Attorney, and Field Directors in litigation, working on tasks that could range from complaint drafting to discovery to settlement negotiations or trial prep. PEER’s cases often involve federal legislation such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. I will also conduct initial intake interviews with public employees who contact PEER and legal research to explore any potential environmental law and ethics violations that these callers raise.

Marcus: This summer I’m going to be at Ropes & Gray, a stronghold law firm, splitting my time between their Boston and NYC offices. I’ll be doing corporate work, rotating between their various corporate departments.

Christina: I will be doing a judicial internship at Riverhead Justice Court on Long Island, New York, for Judge Allen Smith.

Erika: I am interning at Hurwitz, Richard & Sencabaugh LLP this summer. They are a small firm that does some licensing and business law. I’ll be doing research and perfecting my memo writing.

Jae: I am joining the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force as a summer legal intern. The Strike Force (a division of the Office’s Energy and Environment Bureau) investigates/prosecutes polluters that harm or pose a significant threat to the state’s environment, natural resources, or the health and safety of the public. I came to law school to study environmental law, and could not be happier.

Jorge: This summer I’ll be working as a Legal Intern at TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from travelers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features with seamless links to booking tools that check hundreds of websites to find the best prices. The sites operate in 47 countries worldwide, reaching 350 million unique monthly visitors and 290 million reviews and opinions covering more than 5.3 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The in-house team handles a majority of TripAdvisor’s legal matters including: Contracts, SEC Reporting, Compliance, Corporate Governance, Intellectual Property, Litigation, Mergers and Acquisitions, Employment Law and International Matters. As a legal intern, I will be assigned projects across these diverse legal areas to maximize my exposure. This business setting provides a unique outlook on the implications of the law because, in a sense, we are the client.

Alex: This summer I’ll be at the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans, LA, working on death penalty appeals. CAP is a non-profit contracted by the state of Louisiana to handle all indigent death penalty appellate cases. I’m excited to be in a new (albeit humid) city and to explore the South on weekends.

Is It Too Early To Start Thinking About The Bar?

I love to plan ahead. Predictable structure gives me a sense of peace unachievable even through the best vinyasa practice. But during my first couple years of law school, an important part of why I’m here has been mostly absent from my obsessive planning. For those of us hoping to practice at some point after graduation, we have to pass the bar.

It’s been easy to push thoughts of the notoriously difficult test aside with classes, exams, papers, law review, externships and clinics taking up so much time and mental space. But whether we are consciously aware of it or not, the bar is there, hanging over everything else that we do in law school. Are there things I should have been doing to prepare, even during my 1L year?

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And May It Please The Court…

I’m pleased to host a guest blog from 3L Jenny Moore, one of the winners of last year’s Grimes Moot Court Competition, describing her experience in the competition and on a moot court team.

Around BC Law, the dawn of Spring means the annual Grimes Moot Court Competition is reaching its conclusion: two teams vying to be champion in front of three distinguished judges. Grimes is BC Law’s internal moot court competition. Pairs of 2Ls spend a month writing a brief on a hypothetical appellate dispute, and over a month facing off once a week at oral arguments. Last year, my partner, Brooke Hartley, and I took it all home.

Participating in Grimes was one of my favorite parts of law school. Preparing for argument and arguing in front of the judges was unlike anything I had ever done before. I had always enjoyed public speaking but never felt the nerves beforehand until Grimes. Each week I was incredibly nervous right before my argument, but as soon as I got going and received questions from the judges, my nerves would turn into straight adrenaline. I enjoyed the challenge of being on my toes and trying to answer difficult questions in the most effective way possible to win the argument.

Brooke and I were pretty surprised each week when we would advance, and it was always exciting to see how the next round of judges would put us to the test. The day of the finals was one of the most nerve-wracking days of my life, but it will always be a special memory that we got to argue in front of such a distinguished panel, especially Merrick Garland.

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Our Woman of the Year

I am pleased to host a guest post from co-presidents of the Boston College Law School Women’s Law Center, Liz Dwyer and Stacey Kourtis.

The Women’s Law Center aims to impact both its student members and the entire BC Law community by providing networking opportunities with women in the legal community, maintaining strong ties with women alumni for mentorship, and by providing a forum for discussion about women’s issues at BC Law and beyond. For us, the WLC has served as a supportive and engaging group here at BC Law. We’re proud to be members of the Women’s Law Center where we have both had the opportunity to meet wonderful women at BC Law, alumnae, and faculty.

Every year, the Women’s Law Center at BC Law  chooses one alumna who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to advancing an area of the legal profession and recognizes her as the WLC’s Woman of the Year. This year, the Women’s Law Center nomination committee chose to present the 10th Annual Woman of the Year Award to Josephine McNeil ’87.

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Guess Who is Teaching My Class?

A couple weeks into my 1L year, on my drive into school, I heard a report on public radio about a recent Supreme Judicial Court (the Massachusetts state supreme court) decision. The court had found that black men might have a reason, even if they were not guilty of a crime, to run from the police. Even as a greenhorn law student, I could tell that this sort of decision was radical. When I got to school, I printed the opinion, pushed Torts, Contracts, and CivPro to the side, and raced through it.

Citing to a study conducted by the Boston Police Department, which found that black men are more likely to be stopped and questioned by police officers, and repeatedly so, the court noted that a black male, “when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity.” This was the outcome I hoped to (but did not often) see in judicial decisions. I looked at the opinion’s author, Justice Geraldine Hines. The first black woman to serve on the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court, she had worked in civil rights and defense before joining the bench. It seemed like the coolest career possible, and controverted the typical image of a judge as a stuffy old white man. Maybe if I was lucky, I thought, one day I would get to meet her.

That day would come sooner than I thought.

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