Twenty years ago yesterday—September 10th, 2001—I was five and a half years old growing up outside of Boston. That day, my mom and I went to the nearby Chestnut Hill Mall (having since been gentrified and recast as The Shops at Chestnut Hill) to try and find myself a new pair of shoes for the new school year.
Plumbing the depths of my foggy and halcyonic recollections of late 1990s and early 2000s Boston, I recall a Stride Rite on the second floor of the mall—our destination that day. I wistfully remember Stride Rite, a Boston-based children’s footwear chain, for its sand tables, toys, and vivid atmosphere. It was, in essence, everything that shopping as a kid usually was not—fun.
I recall picking out a pair of light-up sneakers—second only to Heelys when it came to the playground hierarchy of kids’ footwear.
I couldn’t wait to get to school and showcase my shoes, banging them against any object in sight to activate the lights.
There’s something strange about thinking back to that time. Much is made by historians, sociologists and journalists about the profound effects and transformations that the attacks and aftermath of September 11th, 2001 had on our country, and our world.
For those who aren’t aware, I like to take on new challenges (like joining this blog, for example). As if 1L year isn’t busy enough, right? One of my favorites this year is the Just Law Podcast, which we launched in November 2020. We’ve put out ten episodes so far, with more great content coming before the end of the semester.
We have a great team. One of the toughest things (other than launching a podcast in the middle of a worldwide pandemic) is saying goodbye to good people, and this year we will be losing our 3L friends, Co-Hosts Lea Silverman and Kevin O’Sullivan, and Executive Producer Mark Grayson. These three helped found the podcast and were the main drivers in getting it off the ground, long before I came in. Suffice it to say, replacing them will be impossible.
But Joanna Plaisir and I will continue on, and our hope is to add new talent for next year to help us expand the podcast marketing and production team, as well as assist with interviews. We want to build Just Law for the long term, and hope to make it part of the fabric of BC Law, just like the Impact blog. Next year we’ll be in the studio (we hope) on campus, ready to record more great episodes for everyone out there listening. So if you’re a current or incoming student and have podcasting or sound mixing and engineering experience, and you want to get involved, email us at email@example.com and let us know. And check out Just Law on Captivate, or your favorite podcast platform.
In February of 2019 I was a senior in college in my final semester. I was also an intern at NBC Sports Boston—an awesome opportunity that I really enjoyed. I’ll admit it—I’m a huge sports fan. Not just in the sense that I watch a lot of games, but in the sense that I have a framed, autographed photo of Patriots running back James White scoring the game winning touchdown in the greatest comeback in NFL history (Super Bowl LI, which I attended) mounted in my living room. This photo is next to David Ortiz’ #34 jersey, which is next to an autographed Tim Thomas hat, next to an autographed team photo of the world champion 2007-08 Boston Celtics.
Are you getting the picture?
So it goes without saying that I was beyond thrilled when I actually got to help cover Super Bowl LIII—the final championship of the Brady-Belichick era, a run of success so long it stretched back from when I was in preschool, to when I was getting ready to graduate from college. It was a fitting ending on a number of fronts.
But in the back of my mind, I knew trouble was on the horizon.
When I was in college I ran a media business that I started in high school. Sponsorships, 8 figure view counts, verified checkmarks, even a Play Button award and a congratulatory letter from the CEO of YouTube—I had all of it.
But as time went by, I started to realize that something was very wrong. When I would scroll through analytics, trying to catch on to the latest trend or find what factors were making certain online content do well, I started noticing a different type of trend—a disturbing one.
I am pleased to announce the launch of Boston College Law School’s podcast Just Law.
I am 1L Tom Blakely and will be hosting the show alongside 3Ls Lea Silverman and Kevin O’Sullivan, and fellow 1L and Section 3er (the best section) Joanna Plaisir.
We are very much appreciative of our tremendously talented editor and producer 3L Mark Grayson, and the institutional support from Boston College, specifically Director of Marketing and Communications Nate Kenyon.
Note: Identifying information has been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned.
There come few more humbling experiences in life than getting destroyed at a video game by an 8 year old. In my heyday, I knew my way around a PlayStation controller. But times have changed.
I was sitting in a room on 10 NW, the ward of Boston Children’s Hospital reserved for surgery and orthopedic patients.
It was my first night as a volunteer at the hospital.
There are many reasons one gets involved in community service. For many, school and work requirements, as well as retreats and other social events will often prescribe the rolling up of one’s sleeves and getting out there. Many people also enjoy the intrinsic reward and benefit of making a positive difference in the world around them.
But my reason was different.
October of 2019, just one year ago, feels like a different world.
I had just received my LSAT score as I was sitting at a car service shop with my laptop, waiting for an oil change and completing my first law school applications. I remember the poorly formatted sinkhole that is the LSAC website, and obsessing over every comma and margin—imagining some doomsday scenario in which a tweedy and officious admissions officer made a decision based on some typo I had neglected or word I had misused.
I figured that after a few months of apprehensively refreshing my Outlook junk folder (where all my law school emails automatically went for reasons I’ve never been able to determine) I would start receiving admissions decisions. I imagined flying from place to place, attending admitted students’ weekends and trying to figure out what the next chapter looked like for me. I also imagined where I would be a year later, attending class and getting to know new people.
Waiting for those decisions proved difficult. I spent my downtime watching movies. This helped me take my mind off of the admissions message boards that I scrolled through each day, examining the auguries’ of my peers’ decision results to try and predict how I might fare.
In an old World War II movie I watched, there was a scene in which a pilot regaled his buddies about the travails of “flying blind” through dense cloud cover and fog across the English Channel. The phrase stuck with me. It perfectly described where I was at, and what little I knew about what was on the horizon.