“In Times of War, the Laws Fall Silent”

Over winter break I watched The Pianist. As the film opens, the main character is playing live on the radio in 1939—just as Warsaw is being bombed by Germany. With the bombs falling, the pianist rushes home. His family is Jewish, and his sister is a young lawyer.

The bombing continues for days. The family is relieved when France and Britain announce that they have declared war on Germany, but no nation comes to their rescue, and before long Warsaw is under the umbrella of one ideology. The pianist and his family, who are forced to wear blue Star of David armbands and are not allowed to work, eventually are relocated to a Warsaw ghetto. The pianist is separated from his family by a friend serving in the Jewish Ghetto Police. It is a heartbreaking moment as the rest of the family—including the pianist’s sister—are shoved into a cargo train and sent to their certain deaths.

That scene and the sister’s character arc have haunted me this entire semester. Although the movie is primarily focused on the pianist, I wanted to know more about her, what she was thinking—as an attorney, she must have agonized over the supposed legal justifications as the Jewish population lost their jobs, then their homes, until finally they were transported to the Treblinka extermination camp. What I found so frightening (and chilling) about the sister is that despite being a lawyer, she was unable to protect her family. Under the circumstances, what could she have done?

Everything was moving so fast. In a time of war, Poland’s civil society and its institutions were collapsing. The moment was bigger than one person, one attorney, or one Jewish woman.

But it still haunts me. And I have not been able to shake that feeling.

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Why I Am Marching for Science

On Saturday, April 22, thousands of people in cities and towns throughout the United States and around the world will be marching to show public support for science. There will be a march on the Boston Common from 1-4 PM. I hope you will join me!

I am marching for science because I believe we need a scientifically literate society. There are profound scientific issues facing our civilization. These issues include the acceleration of automation, developments in artificial intelligence and gene-editing technology, the race to find cures to diseases, adaptation to a changing climate, and the expansion of humanity’s presence in the solar system. We need a scientifically literate society to confront these challenges and so many more. We need a scientifically literate society so that we can openly innovate and build new industries that will create the opportunities of tomorrow. And we need leaders who will enact evidence-based policies and pull us towards a higher enlightenment.

As law students and future lawyers, we know that the legal profession is a noble one that is committed to defending and searching for the truth. Science too is a noble pursuit.

The words of Ibn al-Haytham particularly resonated with me:

“Finding truth is difficult. And the road to it is rough. As seekers of the truth you will be wise to withhold judgment and not simply put your trust in the writings of the ancients. You must question and critically examine those writings from every side. You must admit only to argument and experiment, and not to the sayings of any person. For every human being is vulnerable to all kinds of imperfection. As seekers of the truth we must also suspect and question our own ideas as we perform our investigations, to avoid falling into prejudice or careless thinking. Take this course and truth will be revealed to you.” —Ibn al-Haytham, who was a scientist during the Golden Age of Science in Muslim civilization and who understood the scientific method 200 years before the Enlightenment reached Europe

Here is more information about the March for Science in Boston:


BC in DC Spotlight: Cynthia Gonzalez

Author’s Note: Boston College Law School offers students the opportunity to do a full-time semester-in-practice in Washington, DC.

This fall I am working as a Law Intern at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. My other classmates from BC Law are working in various federal agencies and nonprofits, including the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the US House of Representatives. Throughout the semester, I will be highlighting all of our experiences.

Here is the first in our BC in DC Spotlight series—on Cynthia Gonzalez!

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BC Law Students at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Hi everyone! I have the pleasure of hosting a guest blog from Jovalin Dedaj, BC Law ’16. Jovalin and Cristina Manzano, BC Law ’16, recently argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

As a law student, I knew that my legal education would involve reading cases, outlining cases, and studying cases. I certainly did not know (nor did I expect) that as a BC law student, my legal education would also involve arguing a case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Jovalin Dedaj ’16 and Cristina Manzano ’16 at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

When Professor Kari Hong joined the BC faculty in 2012, she brought with her an extensive background in immigration law and appellate work. One of her first initiatives at the law school was setting up the Ninth Circuit Appellate Project (NCAP), a clinic devoted to representing indigent clients in the Ninth Circuit who face immigration consequences for various criminal convictions. I first heard about the clinic as a first-year law student and remember thinking to myself what an intimidating experience it would be to argue a case before a U.S. circuit court of appeals without even having graduated law school! Two years later, the feeling certainly returned the morning of our oral arguments.

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Muslim & American

Six years ago, I found myself in a situation on Capitol Hill that I could hardly believe was happening.

I walked through the tunnels of the Capitol Building, passed by the Speaker’s lobby, and descended down a series of stairs to approach the room HC-5. I took my shoes off, said my salaams to the other men and women entering the room, and sat down near the front. “Allah hu akbar.” The muezzin started the call to prayer.

More people continued to enter the room. Among them were Congressional staff, officials from various federal agencies (including the Department of Defense, the State Department, and Department of Health & Human Services), and members of the press. The man that sat on my right looked a bit confused, but eager to start the prayer. The man that sat to my left looked familiar, but I could not put a name to the face. Meanwhile, the call to prayer continued. The room was almost at capacity and nearly all eyes kept turning to the man sitting to my left.

As the muezzin ended the call to prayer, the khatib took the microphone and started the brief sermon. He gave his blessings and then introduced two men. The man sitting to my left was Congressman Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to Congress. The man sitting to my right was the U.S. House of Representatives Chaplain, the first Roman Catholic priest to serve in that position. After a brief introduction, the Congressman and House Chaplain sat back down next to me. I was overwhelmed with emotions. “Allah hu akbar.” Everyone stood in unison as the Friday prayer began.

That’s when it hit me.

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1L Summer Internships

“You’ll never know if you don’t try.” That’s what my mom said to me when I thought about applying to NASA’s General Counsel’s office. After a few chuckles with my dad about the prospect of me actually landing a job at NASA, I sent in my application. A few weeks later I was invited for an interview.

I utilized the resources at BC Law to prepare for the interview including a mock interview with Career Services, intensive research on Bloomberg with the Law Librarians, and chatting with Professor Mary Bilder (my Property professor) about her father’s paper on mining Helium-3 on the moon. All of these resources helped me prepare for the interview and eventually land the internship at NASA.

I hope you’ll consider these tips and resources to expand your 1L summer internship search:

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Movember at BC Law

Gentlemen around Boston College Law School are rocking the mustache to celebrate Movember and raise awareness and funds for men’s health.

The Movember Foundation is a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $650 million and funding over 1,000 programs focusing on testicular cancer, prostate cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity.

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Journey to Mars

The first humans who will step on Mars are walking the Earth today. 

Our national ambition put astronauts on the moon, cured diseases that were once thought incurable, and revolutionized our society and economy. But that was in the last century. We are in the second decade of the twenty-first century, and we have a lot more work to do.

For the first time since the Apollo Moon landings, NASA will be sending humans beyond Earth’s orbit. Our journey to Mars is already underway.

To carry out this journey, it will require a great deal of effort, patience, and investment.

How does this impact lawyers in the twenty-first century? The technology that is being developed to get astronauts and rovers to Mars will have an impact on industries in the United States and around the world. Some of us may be drafting the legislation that will govern new industries. Others may be litigating against the emerging industries. International agreements between spacefaring nations may increase. And the commercialization of space flight and exploration can have all sorts of legal implications.

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On Campus: Pixar’s Chief Legal Counsel James Kennedy

Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the rest of the characters from Disney Pixar’s “Toy Story” took the entertainment industry by storm. In 1995, the creative minds at Pixar Animation Studios successfully developed a feature-length computer animated film. I was five years old when I saw my first Pixar movie and I’ve watched nearly every single Pixar movie after that. These films tend to be universally loved.

Last Monday, the BC Law community welcomed alumnus James Kennedy, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel of Pixar Animation Studios. The Business & Law Society hosted the event in collaboration with Career Services at Boston College Law School.

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Space Law?

Martian rights. Asteroid mining disputes. Inter-galactic treaties.

Someday an attorney will work in these practice areas, but sadly that day is not today. So much of what humans do out there – in space – is governed by laws grounded right here on Earth.

This past summer I had the honor of working as a Law Clerk at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of the General Counsel.

Yes, NASA has lawyers! From environmental legal issues to contracts and international agreements, NASA attorneys work on a wide range of matters enabling tremendous leaps in research and development and advancing our nation’s exploration of the cosmos. NASA is a United States government agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Thumbs up at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland

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