Watch BC Law Students Argue at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals!

As part of BC Law’s Center for Experiential Learning Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, four of our third-year law students prepared briefs and argued today in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of indigent clients.

In the Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, supervised law students prepare briefs and argue immigration cases brought by indigent clients who would otherwise be without counsel. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in San Francisco and hearing cases arising from Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona, screens pro se cases and selects those that present important issues that deserve further development. Past cases have included asylum, withholding, Convention Against Torture claims, questions relating to immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and issues of statutory interpretation that present questions of first impression to the Court.

The Court schedules the opening brief to be filed in October, the reply brief in January, and oral argument before a panel of sitting judges in April of the same academic year. Students travel to the court hearing to present oral argument. The Court then issues its decision based on the merits of the individual cases.

Students develop and apply numerous skills, including client communication, legal research, brief writing, and oral advocacy.

These students have been preparing all year for this day, and you can watch their arguments here:

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Bending Gender Perceptions in the Legal World

Author’s Note: Kelsey Gasseling (KG) is a 1L at BC Law and a member of LAMBDA, the LGBTQ affinity group at BC Law. 

When I was 17 years old I went on a gender pronoun boycott. After coming out of the closet and realizing life could go on somewhat normally (no fire and brimstone, much to my Catholic school-kid surprise), I started to analyze what made me, “me.” I had the fortune of being a white teenager from the Pacific Northwest, with a supportive mother and access to a vibrant LGBTQ youth center. This gave me a relatively safe space to explore my identity outside of the conventional male/female binary. Today, I find myself confronting a new set of questions revolving around gender norms in the typically more conservative Boston legal market.

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Of Our Fallen Professor, Justice Antonin Scalia

A shockwave disrupted the country on the afternoon of February 13, 2016, when we learned that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had passed away unexpectedly at the age of 79. The fascinating political and legal ramifications of Justice Scalia’s sudden death are yet to unfold, but what is certain is that American law students have lost a brilliant and consequential legal instructor. Continue reading

Disgrace on Stage

Since I came to Boston College Law School in the Fall of 2013, the dialogue on campus about race and culture has moved front and center. This semester, part of that continuing dialogue has included BC Law’s promotion of Disgraced, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Muslim-American Ayad Akhtar. Huntington Theater Company summarized the play:

In Disgraced, high-powered New York lawyer Amir has climbed the corporate ladder while distancing himself from his Muslim roots. When he and his wife Emily host a dinner party, what starts as a friendly conversation escalates, shattering their views on race, religion, and each other.

As an American who was raised Muslim, I am acutely aware of how rare it is to find a central, three-dimensional depiction of our community in the mainstream media. The closest I can recall was the short-lived TLC reality show All-American Muslims, which went just eight episodes before succumbing to backlash from bigoted interest groups, cowed advertisers, and low ratings.

Even President Obama, in a touching speech during his recent historic visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, briefly mentioned our conspicuous absence in mainstream storytelling:

Part of what we have to do is to lift up the contributions of the Muslim-American community not when there’s a problem, but all the time. Our television shows should have some Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security because it’s not that hard to do. There was a time when there were no black people on television. And you can tell good stories while still representing the reality of our communities.

So of course, I was excited to learn that Disgraced even existed. There is much to explore about the Muslim-American story, especially given how fundamentally it changed after 9/11. Since then, Muslim-Americans have been forced to reconcile our identities, both privately and publicly, in the wake of every atrocity carried out in our name. It has been distracting, dehumanizing, and exhausting to endure, not to mention frightening.

Finally, Disgraced was one of us earning the chance to share our story, truthfully and unapologetically; to humanize ourselves in a way that only great art can, warts and all.

I headed into Huntington Theater feeling optimistic and hopeful.

I left feeling betrayed, ashamed, and angry.

Spoilers ahead.

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On Campus: A Dialogue on Gun Rights & Gun Control (Audio)

As a 3L at BC Law, I am always impressed with our student body’s desire to engage each other on tough and important issues of law and society. Whether we are discussing matters of constitutional law, diversity and inclusion, corporate governance, criminal justice, health care, civil rights, or any number of issues, our student groups love to spark extracurricular debate and discussion.

One such group is the American Constitution Society, an organization dedicated to developing progressive leaders in the legal field. Yesterday, the BC Law chapter of the ACS hosted an event entitled “ACS: A Dialogue About Gun Control & Gun Rights” featuring Michael Ball ’18 and myself. This was a highly-structured dialogue that was intended to be educational, productive, and intellectually honest. Gun rights and gun policy are a sensitive issue, and our goal as a progressive student group was to make sure that we enter that policy sphere with as much education on the subject as possible.

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A Semester in a Shrinking World: Jumping Borders

The world is shrinking. For me, it started shrinking the day I stuck one of those free AOL floppy disks into my computer. Instantly (sort of), I was connected to the World Wide Web and debating the latest episode of Doug with a kid named “PorkChop69” living halfway across the country. It was the beginning of a life without borders.

porkchop

Porkchop, the World’s Greatest Dog with the World’s Coolest Doghouse.

Fast forward to 1L year at BC Law, when I took an elective course called Globalization. There, I learned that the legal field is perhaps the most crucial player in our increasingly global world, whether from the perspective of international relations, corporate law, environmental law, immigration law, or human rights law. As our artificial borders continue to dissolve, it’s the lawyers who write the rules.

When the first-ever BC Law Paris Exchange/Summer Externship program was announced at the beginning of my 2L year, I jumped at the opportunity to experience the world of international law for myself. Continue reading