As cliché as it sounds, it is hard to imagine life beyond or before Covid-19. As the world begins to tip-toe back to normal, many find it hard to imagine what this new “normal” will even look like. Some, myself included, find it difficult to even begin to picture what a post-pandemic world will be, as social distancing and isolation have completely taken over in the past year.
Although the pandemic that has forced us apart from one another in so many ways, in other ways it has brought our community closer than ever before. Take BC Law’s Food Pantry Effort, for example, a working group that has helped organize the donations of hundreds of pounds of food to local organizations.
We spoke with student leader Andrew Fishman about the work of the group and how he hopes to impact the surrounding community.
Tell me a little bit about how this working group got its start.
Lots of discussion lately about rankings. How important are they, really? For better or worse, most students (and alumni, for that matter) pay attention to where their school falls in the US News & World Report annual list.
The latest US News Best Law Schools ranking was released this week, and BC Law moved up two spots to #29, improving its overall score from 63 to 67. Yay! BC also moved up in a few specialty categories: Tax (#14), Clinical Training (#24) and Environmental Law (#24).
There was more controversy than usual this year, with US News initially releasing a new diversity ranking and then recalculating it and then pulling it off their site entirely. Further, they had to recalculate their overall ranking just a day before it was released, removing a metric on librarian’s “ratio of credit hours of instruction.” Apparently there was more than the usual tinkering with the methodology this year, adding some new measurements of average debt, and reworking how library resources are measured.
Maybe it’s just me, but they don’t seem to have hit a home run with all these changes. So does this mark the beginning of the end for US News rankings dominance? Probably not, but stay tuned.
Read more about the ranking in the BC Law Magazine story.
Devon Sanders is a second-year student, and vice president of the Impact blog. Reach her at email@example.com.
The one year-mark of the Covid-19 shutdown that forced BC Law to fundamentally change its operations came and went last week. This pandemic-focused world has created realities that none of us could have ever predicted, simultaneously shutting doors and forcing new opportunities to emerge in their wake. The only thing that has remained constant over the past year is the uncertainty of what the near-future will bring.
BC Law has done its best to adapt. A unique example of this is the emergence of the Covid Relief Housing Clinic earlier this semester. What began as a Summer 2020 effort to help people in the greater Boston area receive unemployment benefits has transformed to a semester-long clinic opportunity, addressing urgent legal issues regarding housing and upholding the original goal to meet the timely legal needs of those within our community.
I spoke with Professor Ana Rivera, who runs the clinic, to discuss the creation and utilization of this new addition to BC Law’s Experiential Learning Center.
1. When and how did the idea emerge for this clinic?
The idea for a clinic focused exclusively on housing came to me in the fall 2020, when the federal and local moratoria on evictions were scheduled to expire. There was a great concern that the number of eviction matters would spike exponentially, as workers in the retail, hotel, and restaurant industries continued to struggle either to find new work or to receive unemployment insurance benefits. It seemed right from a social justice perspective to divert resources to this particular problem. I contacted WATCH CDC, a family, housing, and adult education advocacy organization in Waltham, MA, with which our Civil Litigation Clinic has collaborated in the past, and proposed a partnership with BC Law to identify and provide legal assistance to Waltham tenants facing housing insecurity as a result of Covid-19. Having such an intimate relationship with tenants in Waltham, WATCH, through its executive director Daria Gere, was acutely aware of the need and embraced the opportunity. With the support of Professors Judy McMorrow and Renee Jones, the idea was realized.
As we began the second full semester under the hybrid in-person and online model this week, I found myself thinking back to the beginning of my first semester as a 1L. As a chatty person, I filled much of the first few weeks of law school trying to meet and talk to my fellow classmates, learning about their general backgrounds. Everyone was so overwhelmingly interesting that I felt I would be learning new things about the people in my section well into the rest of the year.
Looking back, I felt a pang of longing for those first few weeks. I had taken these passing conversations and small talks for granted, thinking there would always be time to chat with the people who filled the seats in my classes and the halls of the school. I would have never guessed that I would be taking remote classes in my apartment, only seeing my classmates through a computer screen.
But at the same time, in the midst of the strained communication and connection that we all have faced over the past year, I found myself longing to understand people better: to connect and learn about others in ways a simple conversation likely would not yield.
The newest issue of BC Law Magazine features five students’ personal admission essays. These narratives not only reflect students’ passions, tribulations, and motivations, but masterfully display how events in the lives of these students have both defined who they are and propelled them to become who they want to be. These essays, and the students who wrote them, present a sense of connection to the BC Law community, as we learn about some of our fellow students and what motivates them to pursue a career in law.
You can read the personal admission essays here. You can also check out the entire Winter 2021 edition of the BC Law Magazine on their website.
On December 10, the BC Law community lost a cherished member. Triple Eagle Kevin Curtin (Law ’88) passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack.
I didn’t know him personally, but I do know that his contributions to BC Law and beyond were tremendous. Mr. Curtin had served as Alumni Board President and an adjunct faculty member, but that just scratches the surface. BC Law Magazine just posted a story filled with faculty, staff and alumni reflecting on his influence. He was also active internationally, helping on rule of law issues in Uzbekistan, for example. Here’s another Magazine story on his work around protecting the rights of Turkish detainees after a coup.
Mr Curtin also wrote a guest blog a few years ago here on Impact, when he was Alumni Board President, called “Remember the Why,” which speaks to his love for the School and for the profession:
My dad, Jack, was a ’57 Boston College Law School graduate. He passed away a year and a half ago. I thought of him a lot at Commencement—how proud he would have been of these young graduates, poised at the threshold. Jack Curtin’s own father graduated from Boston College in 1923, the first in his family to achieve a college degree. My mother’s uncle, Msgr. William J. Daly, graduated Boston College in 1916. My brother Joe graduated BC Law in 1990. Both my sisters are Boston College graduates. My wife and brother-in-law are BC law graduates. I have three degrees from Boston College and teach at the Law School myself. It’s a humbling pedigree.
But the Boston College bond extends far beyond blood. Watching this year’s commencement and seeing so many splendid young men and women celebrating as a community reminded me that we really and truly are one big family. As Professor James Repetti ’80 remarked, being a member of the BC Law community means you will never be alone. The entire community of students, faculty and alumni, stand behind you and with you always.
The entire post is well worth the read. Rest in peace, Mr Curtin.
Devon Sanders is a second-year student and VP of the Impact blog. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the decade and a half since its start, The Boston College Innocence Program has amassed an astonishing reputation for its work in innocence advocacy and wrongful convictions. Bolstering an impressive record, BCIP both represents innocent individuals and works with policymakers regarding legislative reform, quite literally changing lives every step of the way.
This year in particular, BCIP has secured an impressive amount of exonerations and releases, using new evidence and instances of misconduct, with three major victories in 2020 alone:
We are witnessing a critical moment in our nation’s history. Over the past few months, we have found ourselves looking inward at the traditional pillars of society, re-evaluating their fairness and justness.
A new organization, the BC Law Chapter of the People’s Parity Project, aims to evaluate and disable injustices within the legal community from the inside out. Writing a guest post today are organization leaders Daniel McLaughlin and Will Petrone, discussing court reform and the organization in general. If you are interested in getting involved with the BC chapter of the People’s Parity Project, contact email@example.com.
Before we came to law school, many of us probably thought that the law and the legal system were inherently fair, and judges and justices were non-political. But as law students, we have some insight into the system, and as we’ve progressed through our law school careers, many of us have been surprised to see that judges are human. And importantly, the judiciary is not as insulated from politics and biases as we had once thought. These days, the Court is clearly politicized, and right now in particular, it is dominating the news cycle. Although most Americans think that the next president should fill the seat, Senate Republicans, representing less than half of the U.S. population, have confirmed Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Conservative justices now have a 6-3 majority, and are posed to threaten a woman’s right to choose, the Affordable Care Act, and so much more.
Fortunately, law school’s peek behind the curtain allows us a sliver of hope. Court reform is possible, and it would make sure that the death of one justice does not pose such a drastic threat to civil rights, our environment, and health care for all. It would also help to make sure that courts are not able to block the progress the majority of this country believes is necessary and wants to see. With the election so close at hand, it’s all the more important to advocate for these reforms to the candidates who seek to secure our votes, and channel our frustrations with the current system into momentum for change.
Today I am hosting a guest blog by Phil Privitera ‘95. You can reach him through the firstname.lastname@example.org email.
At a recent Somerville Redevelopment Hearing — with only selected information in front of them and public input filtered through administrators promoting the public project — an all-white Somerville Redevelopment Board voted in favor of a plan to take and relocate minority immigrant businesses, as well as residential tenants, in order to make a vacant parcel behind them more attractive for a yet-to-be-named, possible developer in the future.
The start of a new school year is a hectic time. Figuring out new classes, learning brand-new material, and readjusting to the school-year schedule can be a bit overwhelming. I have been finding myself jotting down dates, searching my emails for important information, and panic-texting a classmate or two to make sure I am not missing anything.
In an attempt to quell the chaos, I put together some pertinent administrative information for the semester. Whether it’s knowing when the next shuttle is arriving to get to school or having resources to learn more about different BC Law departments, this guide has helped me keep everything in one place.
Guest blogger Rita Muse ’15 comes from a line of BC Law graduates. Her grandmother, Judge Mary Beatty Muse, graduated in 1950, her aunt, Patricia Muse, in 1990, and her cousin, Julie Muse-Fisher, in 2005. Her uncle, Christopher Muse, though not a BC Law grad, has been a longtime adjunct professor at the Law School. He and Rita’s grandfather, Robert Muse were instrumental in the release of the wrongly convicted Bobby Joe Leaster. Their engagement with Leaster in the 1980s had a lasting impact on the Muse family, including on Rita, who, as a law student, helped to free another innocent man.
Bobby Joe Leaster: A Remembrance
By Rita Miuse ’15
When Bobby Joe Leaster spoke to BC Law students and faculties, his story was the same but his message never got old; he was wrongfully convicted of murder and unjustly imprisoned for almost 16 years, but he dealt with injustice in his own profoundly special way. This past April 26, one of BC Law’s favorite guests and a beloved citizen of Boston, passed away from the severe burns he suffered in a home fire three weeks earlier.
Bobby Joe Leaster, with his lawyers, Robert and Christopher Muse, teaching Judicial Youth Corps students in the courthouse where he was convicted.
This is my remembrance of the person who motivated me as a student, inspired me as a lawyer, and became a friend of my family, two of whom, my grandfather Robert Muse and my uncle Christopher Muse, a longtime adjunct professor at BC Law, helped to free Bobby Joe.